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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field Monday morning at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista to conduct a two-hour practice in shells (shoulder pads, helmets, jerseys and shorts).
Weather conditions were actually somewhat cooler than normal thanks to a nice breeze. However, temperatures still were in the high 80s and low 90s during the workout.
Several players were held out of Monday’s workout. Linebackers Derrick Brooks (rest) and Shelton Quarles (rest), guard Toniu Fonoti (ankle), wide receiver J.R. Russell (toe), defensive lineman Charles Bennett (hamstring), safety Will Allen (thumb) and tackle Kenyatta Walker (knee) missed practice Monday.
After stretching and calisthenics, the players broke off into their respective positions to work on individual drills. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, who normally spends the first part of practice with the quarterbacks and wide receivers, spent a significant amount of time working with the offensive linemen on Monday morning, especially when the linemen were working on the two-man blocking sled.
Tampa Bay WR Mark Jones, who has put together a solid camp thus far, was shaky in warm-ups. He dropped two passes. However, Jones made up for those two mistakes during a 7-on-7 drill by making a great catch between cornerback James Patrick and safety Steve Cargile in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
Bucs wide receivers Michael Clayton and Paris Warren also dropped passes during warm-ups. Clayton later drew a pass interference call against rookie cornerback Alan Zemaitis, who had good coverage but was called for the penalty because he never turned around to look for the football.
The Bucs conducted a 1-on-1 (wide receiver vs. defensive back) session this morning, and several players stood out.
Tampa Bay WR Chas Gessner, who has had an extremely productive training camp, ran a great route to beat safety Jermaine Phillips to the end zone for a touchdown. Gessner opened some more eyes on the practice field later during a 7-on-7 drill when he beat three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber down the left seam of the field to haul in a perfectly thrown pass from quarterback Tim Rattay for a score.
Bucs WR Ike Hilliard made a nice juke move and ran a great comeback route to get himself open to make a nice catch against cornerback Brian Kelly. However, Hilliard dropped a pass on his next turn in the rotation after he had gotten himself open against Zemaitis.
Of all of the players in Tampa Bay’s camp, WR David Boston has been one of the most impressive. He continues to catch almost everything thrown his way, and he appears to be healthy again. During a 7-on-7 drill, Boston did a nice job finding the open spot in zone coverage near the sideline and hauling in a pass before safety Kalvin Pearson could get over to the ball in time.
With Boston and Jones performing well, and Clayton, Joey Galloway and WR Maurice Stovall practically guaranteed roster spots this season, one player that could find himself in trouble of making the 53-man roster is WR Edell Shepherd, who has been inconsistent in camp. He dropped a pass during 7-on-7 drills this morning.
Tampa Bay’s running backs were impressive on Monday morning, especially in the passing game, where Michael Pittman, Cadillac Williams and Derek Watson each made impressive plays.
Tampa Bay dedicated a portion of this morning’s practice to special teams. Kicker Xavier Beitia continued to impress, drilling both of his field goal attempts. During the afternoon special teams practice, Bucs special teams coach Richard Bisaccia put Beitia in a pressure situation by having he and the field goal unit line up and kick a 50-yard field goal with the players watching making plenty of noise, To his credit, Beitia remained cool, calm and collected, and drilled the 50-yarder to remain perfect in training camp.
Punter Josh Bidwell looks poised for another Pro Bowl season. He had great hang time and distance on his punts on Monday morning. Punter Brian Simnjanovski is extremely inconsistent. He struggled during punting drills this morning.
Jones, Hilliard, Shepherd and Justin Phinissee returned punts. Each of them fielded the ball cleanly. However, Jones appears to have this job wrapped up.
Rookie tight end Tim Massaquoi continues to be Bucs head coach Jon Gruden’s whipping boy. During an 11-on-11 session, Gruden became frustrated with Massaquoi after the rookie ran the wrong route.
“When are you going to grow up?” Gruden yelled at Massaquoi.
Gruden got after Massaquoi again in another 11-on-11 drill when he ran the wrong route.
Massaquoi wasn’t the only Bucs tight end that struggled Monday morning. Matt Kranchick dropped a pass in the flat during a 7-on-7 drill.
With Walker out, Bucs rookie Jeremy Trueblood saw a significant amount of action at right tackle and fared well. First-round pick Davin Joseph saw action at right guard with the first-team offense while Jeb Terry slid over to left guard to replace Dan Buenning with the first-team offense during an 11-on-11 session.
Bucs quarterback Chris Simms was on fire Monday morning. He was deadly accurate with his passes. It’s become quite apparent that the Bucs trust Simms to throw the short-to-intermediate passes as well as deep balls.
Unfortunately, Simms didn’t get great production from his intended targets. During an 11-on-11 session, Simms threw a perfect strike into the corner of the end zone for tight end Alex Smith, who allowed the ball to bounce off his chest and into the air, which allowed CB Torrie Cox to haul in the pass for the interception.
Although he had a few nice passes, Ratty’s pass to WR Terrence Stubbs during a 7-on-7 red zone drill fell short of the receiver and was intercepted by S Dwight Ellick.
Rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski wasn’t as accurate as he had been over the past several days. Gradkowski fared particularly poor in a full-team goal line drill toward the latter part of practice, where he underthrew WR Terrence Stubbs and nearly had a pass intercepted by CB James Patrick.
Even with Brooks and Quarles out, Tampa Bay’s defense turned in another solid effort Monday morning. After getting beat down the seam by Gessner earlier in the practice, Barber rebounded by making a great pass breakup on a poorly thrown pass from Rattay.
Linebacker Jamie Winborn, who was playing on the weak side in place of Brooks, got the defense off to an explosive start in an 11-on-11 drill when he blew through the backfield and lit up Pittman for a loss.
Defensive end Greg Spires also elevated his play during the same 11-on-11 session when he sniffed out a bootleg and sacked Rattay for a 5-yard loss.
PewterReport.com did not file a Pewter Insider report for Monday afternoon since that practice was dedicated to special teams. The Bucs are scheduled to hold a two-hour practice in the morning followed by a two-hour workout in the afternoon on Tuesday.
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