The afternoon practice started off hot and sunny before clouds built up in the afternoon to provide some breezy and overcast conditions.
The receivers practiced the overhead catch drill again, but the results were much better this afternoon. However, the receivers continued to struggle with dropped passes. Michael Clayton, Kevin Youngblood and J.R. Russell all had drops.
The offense was working on the toss sweep play a lot this afternoon. The guards who participated in the plays all showed good athleticism and mobility.
Head coach Jon Gruden got peeved during one play when some of the players lined up incorrectly. “Listen to the quarterback!” Gruden screamed. “You’re wasting time.”
During the individual period, the offensive and defensive linemen squared off against each other in 1-on-1 pass rush/pass protection drills. Defensive end Greg Spires absolutely killed rookie right tackle Chris Colmer on a couple of rushes. That prompted senior assistant Aaron Kromer to spend the majority of the session working 1-on-1 with Colmer while Bill Muir coached the rest of the linemen. The addition of Kromer this offseason is already paying dividends.
Sean Mahan was taking snaps at right guard and earned a draw in his two-rep series against nose tackle Chris Hovan. He also proved to be very effective when pulled to the left side on running plays. Center Scott Jackson lost his series against nose tackle Jon Bradley by giving up too much ground on both reps.
Under tackle Anthony McFarland beat left guard Matt Stinchcomb in both of his matchups.
Left tackle Derrick Deese locked up right end Bryant McNeal and shut down his opponent twice.
Dewayne White beat Jackson, who was playing right guard, twice in pass rush drills, while under tackle Lynn McGruder and guard Jonathan Clinkscale split their series 1-1.
Left tackle Anthony Davis shut down Delbert Cowsette twice, while rookie nose tackle Anthony Bryant is 2-0 versus guard Chris Watten. Cowsette was also beaten twice by left tackle Lance Nimmo.
McGruder got three additional reps against Doug Buckles, but kept coming in with his pad level too low and was beaten two out of three times.
Defensive end Simeon Rice cramped up earlier in practice and did not participate.
Colmer got three additional reps at the end of the session, but lost 2-1 to defensive end Josh Savage. Colmer almost won the first matchup, but a club move by Savage at the end of the play allowed him to get past the rookie tackle. Colmer won the second skirmish by successfully reading and reacting to Savage’s spin move. Savage used a combination of speed and good pad level to get by Colmer on the third rep.
In 11-on-11 drills, free safety Dexter Jackson took away tight end Alex Smith with great coverage when Brian Griese rolled to his right on a play-action bootleg. Jackson also broke up a pass during practice. The defense opened with the starting front four and the starting secondary, but the second-string linebacking corps, which consisted of Ryan Nece (Will), Barrett Ruud (Mike) and Marquis Cooper (Sam).
Running back Derek Watson had a great afternoon with a great cutback run to the left as the offensive line and the defense went to the right.
Clayton made a nice grab against Juran Bolden on a slant pass. Bolden tried to get physical with him near the line of scrimmage, but Clayton just pushed off to get open.
The biggest hit of the day (which is unusual since the Bucs aren’t in pads yet) came when rookie strong safety Donte Nicholson was lining up receiver Edell Shepherd, who had just caught a pass, collided with cornerback James Patrick as Shepherd slipped by. Nicholson was running full speed and sent Patrick flying to the ground.
Another collision ¬- although not as violent – occurred when safety Kalvin Pearson smacked Russell and broke up a pass in the process. The ball was almost picked off by Bolden.
Defensive end Dewayne White blew by Smith for a sack, but Smith rebounded by making a nice catch on a deep crossing pass.
Tight end Will Heller messed up when he was on the field in a personnel grouping he shouldn’t have been, which resulted in the offense having to re-huddle. That drew the ire of Gruden.
The quarterbacks really stretched the field during Saturday afternoon’s practice. In fact, this might have been the most the QBs have thrown down the field since the team started training at Disney.
The play of the afternoon came when Brian Griese threw a perfect pass to running back Earnest Graham down the right sidelines for a touchdown. Graham ran a “rail” route out of the backfield and was covered downfield by cornerback Kevin Arbet. Arbet went to break up the ball, missed and watched as Graham raced towards the end zone.
Griese also threw a perfect pass to WR Joey Galloway down the sideline for a touchdown, which got the crowd fired up.
Chris Simms also threw a perfect pass down the left sideline, but the pass went through Galloway’s hands, which was very reminiscent of the pass Galloway dropped in Week 1 last year vs. Washington.
At the end of the practice, the Bucs practiced punt returns. Galloway, RB Ian Smart, WR DeAndrew Rubin, WR Ike Hilliard, CB Torrie Cox and RB Cadillac Williams fielded punts.