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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field on Monday morning under hot and sunny skies. The Bucs practiced in full pads for the first time in a week.

Cornerback Torrie Cox (ankle), running back Derek Watson (ankle), middle linebacker Shelton Quarles (rest) and offensive tackle Torrin Tucker (knee) sat out practice. Tucker actually participated in Sunday’s practice, but couldn’t go this morning. The chances of him making the team are slim to none at this point. Even when he was healthy, Tucker looks flabby and out of shape and hasn’t performed well. During the first week of camp, Scott Jackson, a hard-working favorite of the coaching staff, got more reps at backup left tackle than Tucker did.

Nose tackle Chris Hovan (infection) did not attend practice this morning.

During the individual workouts, ball security was a big point of emphasis. The tight ends and quarterbacks were working on tucking the ball while another player would come and try to rip it out of their hands.

The running backs were going through the gauntlet drill where two coaches where whacking the backs with padded blocking shields, trying to force a fumble. Unfortunately, running back Michael Pittman, who fumbled twice against New York in the preseason opener, was not participating in practice on Monday. He could have used the work.

Head coach Jon Gruden wanted the players to concentrate today and this week. That was his theme. Today’s morning practice was fairly sloppy for the most part.

During the offensive installation session of practice, wide receiver Michael Clayton ran the wrong route in a goal line play. In fact, he and tight end Alex Smith ran the exact same route and were literally a yard away from each other. That drew Gruden’s ire, who screamed to wide receivers coach Richard Mann, “Can I get someone in here that knows the plays?”

Pewter Report has learned that Clayton ran the wrong route when Tim Rattay audibled in the second quarter of the Bucs vs. Jets game near the goal line. Rattay threw outside while Clayton ran inside.

Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski had a rough day throwing the football today. His passes were high and some were very wobbly. It seems like sometimes his passes get away from him. He was certainly not the crisp, precise thrower today that he was on Friday night.

The Bucs were running 1-on-1’s with the wide receivers and cornerbacks today and for the most part, the defensive backs had the edge. Cornerback Dwight Ellick had a nice pass breakup on Chas Gessner, who struggled today in 1-on-1’s. His stock might be dropping a bit after an impressive first two weeks of camp.

Rookie cornerback Alan Zemaitis got beaten badly on a comeback route by Mark Jones, but rebounded nicely on the next play by failing to bite on Edell Shepherd’s stop-and-go move and breaking up the pass. Zemaitis was locked on Shepherd and blanketed him in coverage. Zemaitis would later break up a pass intended for Paris Warren.

“Shut it down,” said Bucs defensive backs coach Greg Burns. “Way to go, Zemaitis. Way to concentrate.”

Cornerback James Patrick is beginning to make plays more regularly now. He needs to keep it up. He ran stride for stride with David Boston and turned his head at the last minute to break up the pass. Patrick would later breakup a pass intended for Mark Jones.

Rookie cornerback Justin Phinisee was alert enough to pick off a Gradkowski pass that was thrown right to him as J.R. Russell cut the wrong way on his route.

Wide receiver Maurice Stovall dominated during the 1-on-1’s. He does such a good job of presenting himself as a target and for using his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame to shield defenders away from the ball. Sometimes big receivers don’t always play big. Stovall plays huge, and is making a push to earn some playing time in a crowded wide receiver corps.

Cornerback Juran Bolden had a great pass breakup on Gessner, timing when to strip the ball out of the receiver’s hands perfectly. Gessner was very ticked off that he didn’t hold on to the ball tightly enough to avoid the strip.

Clayton ran a great sideline route and got inside positioning on Bolden to make a sensational catch. He was just able to drag his feet in bounds to make the catch legit. The crowd started to applaud for Clayton when Bolden turned to the audience and said, “What about me? Cheer for me, too!”

The crowd obliged because Bolden did have great coverage despite the catch.

Backup quarterback Tim Rattay saw a limited amount of action with the first-team offense on Monday morning. He fumbled a snap during 7-on-7 drills, but he was solid during an 11-on-11 period, where he threw several nice passes to receivers running slant patterns. But Rattay lost his rhythm later in practice when he had trouble connecting with receivers on slant patterns. However, he finished the 7-on-7 session on a strong note by throwing a perfect pass down the middle of the field to tight end Alex Smith for a big play.

Tampa Bay brought out the dummy defender for the 7-on-7 portion of Monday morning’s practice again in an effort to help quarterback Chris Simms get his passes off cleanly and find throwing lanes at the line of scrimmage. The moving dummy was sporting a Carolina Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker jersey.

Bucs right guard Jeb Terry had a strong 7-on-7 session at right guard. In fact, the Bucs, who had a lot of success running the ball to the left side last year, ran the ball almost exclusively to the right side of the center during an 11-on-11 session on Monday morning. Terry and Bucs rookie right tackle Jeremy Trueblood had strong outings in terms of run blocking.

The Bucs had some success running Cadillac Williams up the middle in full-team drills. One of the stars from Tampa Bay’s 16-3 preseason win over the New York Jets, fullback Carey Davis, saw a significant amount of action on Monday morning. During a 7-on-7 drill, Davis carried the ball three different times and was quite effective. He also was thrown the ball several times, and he showed soft hands with the exception of one pass he dropped.

Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber had one heck of a morning session. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin threw quite a few blitzes at the offense this morning, and Barber recorded two sacks off corner blitzes during two different 11-on-11 sessions. During a 7-on-7 drill, Barber nearly intercepted Simms. In the same session, Barber ran step for step with speedy receiver Joey Galloway down the left sideline and defended a pass thrown by Simms.

Several other defenders, including linebacker Ryan Nece and Patrick, came up with impressive pass breakups during Monday morning’s practice.

One player that tried, but couldn’t defend a pass down the sideline was Ellick, who allowed Gessner to beat him down the sideline and haul in a pass from Gradkowski.

During 11-on-11 drills, Sean Mahan got the start at center and rookie Davin Joseph got the start at right guard. When the second-teamers came in, Toniu Fonoti, who had almost always played at left guard, was getting a look at right guard while Terry played on the left side.

Near the end of the 11-on-11 drills, Gruden was critical of Fonoti and Clayton on a particular play, shouting, “C’mon Fonoti! C’mon Clayton!”

Tampa Bay dedicated a portion of the morning practice to special teams. Kicker Matt Bryant attempted all of the team’s field goals. He made 3-of-4 field goal tries during the session. His one miss went wide right.

During the special teams portion of practice, Stovall came close to blocking a few punts. Pewter Report’s prediction is that Stovall will block a punt at some point this season. The Bucs rarely blocks punts, but Stovall will be the guy to get one.

The tight ends joined the 1-on-1 pass rush/pass protection drills today. Left tackle Anthony Davis looks so much better in pass protection this year. He’s showing much more poise and patience in his pass sets. He’s playing under control this year and rarely loses 1-on-1’s against defensive ends.

Smith has also gotten better in pass protection from the tight end position and held up well in his 1-on-1’s today.

Rookie defensive tackle Julian Jenkins initially beat Fonoti on an inside rush, but lost his footing and Fonoti finished him off. Jenkins has had trouble keeping his balance when rushing the passer. On the next play, Jenkins tried to bull rush the 370-pound Fonoti and got engulfed and flattened by the mammoth guard. It’s doubtful Jenkins makes the team at this point, especially with Jon Bradley and Anthony Bryant playing better. Jenkins could wind up on the practice squad.

Terry, who seems to be steaming over the fact that he didn’t start on Friday night, had a great session in pass protection, easily shutting down Ellis Wyms twice. Terry did a good job of moving laterally and walling Wyms off from the quarterback.

Terry got two reps against Jenkins later in the 1-on-1’s and easily shut him down on both occasions. Jenkins to rush outside and got nowhere before his bull rush got neutralized.

Jackson had a great effort against defensive end Andrew Williams, but Trueblood struggled against the smaller Greg Spires, who used his low pad level to get around Trueblood on one rush. On the second rush, Spires tried to bull rush Trueblood, but to no avail as he was engulfed by the 6-foot-8, 320-pound right tackle.

Rookie Charles Bennett had some great pass rushes and easily beat tight end Anthony Becht twice. The first rush was finished off with a strong swim move. The next one featured an excellent spin move that got Bennett past Becht.

Bennett had two nice rushes against tackle Sam Lightbody, beating him with a rip move on both plays.

Offensive line coach Bill Muir spent a lot of time working with the tight ends in their pass protection. Rookie Tim Massaquoi did a great job of shutting down Williams, who had a frustrating session.

Dewayne White was rushing from the under tackle position during the 1-on-1’s and beat Joseph badly with an inside move. In a rematch on the next play, he tried to bull rush Joseph, but the rookie guard got his hands on him and shut him down.

Anthony McFarland got the best of Joseph on the very next play with a swim move. Joseph will be a good player in time, but right now, he’s still learning how to pass protect at the NFL level.

It’s obvious that the Buccaneers want to get their first-round draft pick on the field as quickly as possible, but Terry is better in pass protection at this juncture and should be starting. It was disappointing to see Terry, who has started virtually every practice at right guard, not get the opportunity to start in the preseason opener. He earned it.


This story is intended to be read by Pewter Insider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers.



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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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