The Tampa Bay Buccaneer practiced in full pads for the first time in their 2005 training camp this morning. Left tackle Derrick Deese was held out due to a foot strain while wide receiver Joey Galloway was held out for precautionary reasons. Fullback Rick Razzano and halfback Jacque Lewis were held out due to hamstring injuries.
Sunday morning’s practice was easily the hottest of training camp. Temperatures were in the low 90s and the humidity was high.
After calisthenics, the offensive line and tight ends worked on the 7-man blocking sled while having the quarterback and running backs behind them, simulating a play. The goal was to emphasize the run blocking aspect of the offense.
The two observations we’ll make from the individual wide receivers drills are that Paris Warren is a smooth player and hasn’t made mistakes throughout the first three days of training camp. He drew praise form wide receivers coach Richard Mann. Adrian Madise is an interesting prospect, but needs a lot of work on footwork and agility.
The linebackers worked on the sled today, simulating taking on linemen and tight ends in the running game.
The cornerbacks worked on breaking on passes (closing speed) while the defensive line ran dummy drills.
The quarterbacks and wide receivers were working on long ball drills and throws into the end zone. Quarterback Luke McCown was decent, but is still throwing high balls. Chris Simms had a good day throwing the football and has a much stronger arm than McCown does. When you see them throw side-by-side, that is apparent.
Wide receiver J.R. Russell caught two passes in the end zone out of bounds, which drew the ire of head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden scolded Russell on running routes with the proper depth. Russell’s straying from the proper routes drove him out of bounds. Russell later made a nice catch in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown during 11-on-11 drills. Although he made a nice grab, Gruden pulled him aside and explained to him how to run a better route on that particular play.
The cornerbacks faced the receivers in 1-on-1 red zone situations. Defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin said, “Technique is going to win for us.”
Wide receiver Michael Clayton scored a touchdown on cornerback Juran Bolden on the first play with a nice inside move. But later, Bolden would use great technique and break up a pass intended for Madise.
Ronde Barber drew a flag when covering Ike Hilliard. Barber’s bad luck continued when he got beat inside by Madise for a touchdown.
Russell scored a touchdown on Torrie Cox, but Kevin Arbet continued his good showing by shutting down DeAndrew Rubin and winning a battle for the defensive backs. Cox rebounded, and broke up a pass intended for Chris Davis.
The important thing to remember in 1-on-1 drills is that usually, the Bucs cornerbacks will have safety help over the top and in the middle of the field, and linebacker coverage underneath, so this drill is naturally geared towards the wide receivers, anyways.
The Bucs held an entertaining blitz drill on Sunday morning. Several Bucs linebackers had success getting to the quarterback during this drill, including Derrick Brooks, who served as a great example to the younger linebackers. Second-year LB Marquis Cooper is extremely fast coming in on blitzes, but he has a tough time getting around the fullback, who in this case was Jameel Cook.
Tampa Bay safeties Jermaine Phillips and Will Allen found the most success in the blitz period drill. They were both doing a great job of filling and attacking the right gaps, which caught defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s attention.
“They can’t block you, Flip,” Kiffin yelled to Phillips. “They can’t block you.”
Clayton added two more touchdowns down the right and left seams, respectively, during 7-on-7 drills.
During this same drill, Hilliard made a nice touchdown grab with safety Dexter Jackson covering him like a blanket. Hilliard isn’t the most explosive player, but he seems to make the most of the balls that are thrown his way.
Tight end Nate Lawrie, who actually saw action with the first-team offense this morning when the Bucs went to a two-tight end set, hauled in a pass for a touchdown during this drill as well. Lawrie has shown excellent hands in camp and is definitely bigger and quicker than he was as a rookie.
In 11-on-11 drills, Simms took the majority of the snaps along with McCown. Jeb Terry was starting at right guard and Anthony Davis was starting at left tackle.
Once again, Derek Watson did a great job of finding open space on a cutback run that went for a big gain. He did the same thing yesterday and it’s becoming a positive trend.
The Bucs did use their “Rocket” backfield personnel grouping this morning, but we won’t get into specifics of what the play encompassed because of strategy reasons. The result was a positive one, though.
Cornerback Ronyell Whitaker drew praise for his blitzing in run situations a la Barber. Whitaker is a tough cornerback who can blitz the pass and the run, but needs more work in coverage.
Defensive back Kalvin Pearson had a very impressive morning session. He did a nice job of filling running lanes and took good angles in coverage. He caught the attention of the coaching staff by making a great stop on Cadillac Williams on a perimeter run. Pearson is a very aggressive player against the run.
Defensive ends Greg Spires and Simeon Rice teamed to record a sack in the 11-on-11 session.
The Buccaneers got off to a great start in the field goal department over the first two days, but this morning’s practice was a disaster.
Kickers Matt Bryant and Todd France were each 1-of-3 on field goal attempts on Sunday morning, and Bryant’s only successful field goal hit the upright and went through. However, their kicking woes can also be attributed to Jeb Terry’s long snaps, which were not consistent.
Bryant was given a chance to make a 47-yard field goal before the practice cool down intermission, but missed badly to the right, which really ticked off Gruden, who watched his kickers make 2-of-7 field goal tries on Sunday morning. Gruden broke out the “Chucky” face, yelled and used some very adult language to describe his mood.
Give Bucs CB Juran Bolden credit for coming in off of the right end to get some hands up and almost block a couple of field goals this morning. Although he didn’t block them, Bolden’s long arms came very close to knocking a couple of kicks down and might have disrupted those kicking plays.
After the intermission, special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who was surely livid over the missed field goals, yelled at his punt teams as they took the field. He made them come back to the sidelines and take the field again with more vigor.
The Bucs were using Mike Alstott as the personal protector on punts, which was a role that Aaron Stecker and Dwight Smith have occupied over the last few years. That seems like a questionable decision given the fact that Alstott is not a great pass blocker and gave up sacks last year in games against Washington and Denver against blitzing safeties. However, it’s not set in stone that Alstott will be Tampa Bay’s personal protector.
Speaking of punts, the Bucs had Cox, RB Ian Smart and wide receivers Edell Shepherd, Ike Hilliard and Rubin fielding them this morning. Williams dropped a punt and made himself field the very next one instead of returning to the back of the line. It was a Michael Clayton-like move. If you recall, Clayton did the same thing on Saturday morning after dropping a pass in warm-ups.
Tampa Bay went into 1-on-1 drills after special teams and an interesting matchup in pads is the offensive and defensive linemen. Defensive end Bryant McNeal got defensive line coach Rod Marinelli upset by not finishing the pass rush drill against tight end Alex Smith and not touching the pad, which represented the quarterback.
Davis battled defensive end Simeon Rice twice and lost both times. Davis looked gassed, likely because he was taking Deese’s reps, too.
Under tackle Ellis Wyms battled guard Matt Stinchcomb and that duel ended in a draw.
Nose tackle Chris Hovan beat center John Wade twice. The first time was with a quick swim move. The second rush was a bull rush that drove Wade back to the pad.
Under tackle Anthony McFarland beat right guard Sean Mahan with a quick inside move on the first rep. Mahan got the better of McFarland on the second rep and locked him up.
Right tackle Kenyatta Walker beat defensive end Greg Spires on their first battle, but lost to Spires on the second when Walker got his feet crossed up a bit. Spires and Walker also had intense individual battles. At one point, Spires ripped Walker’s helmet off.
Smith, who surprisingly saw some action on the third-team offense on Sunday morning, beat defensive end Josh Savage on two consecutive plays and demonstrated a great base and proper arm extension on the first rep. It was his best block of training camp so far. Savage isn’t a great athlete, but is a relentless hustler. He does have a dangerous club move, but seems to use it too late in the action when the play is already over. Savage also lost a 1-on-1 matchup with tight end Will Heller.
Defensive end Delbert Cowsette beat Smith on a bull rush before beating left tackle Lance Nimmo. At one point, Gruden urged Smith to help block on one play. “Work with him, would you? Work with the right tackle, Alex,” Gruden shouted.
Rookie left guard Dan Buenning looked solid and strong in pass protection against nose tackle Damien Gregory. Buenning has great upper body strength, but needs better footwork and must keep his feet moving.
Mahan, who was playing center on this series, shut down nose tackle Jon Bradley twice, taking him down to the ground.
Rookie nose tackle Anthony Bryant blew by right guard Jonathan Clinkscale with a blend of speed and power. That drew Marinell’s praise. “Be a (expletive) tank!” Marinelli screamed. “Every play! Do it every down!”
Defensive end Dewayne White killed rookie right tackle Chris Colmer on two consecutive plays. White easily spun by Colmer on the first rep, and did a double move by faking inside and then rushing around outside, which caused Colmer to hesitate and get beat.
Rookie under tackle Lynn McGruder looked bad and was flattened both times by rookie guard Doug Buckles. That prompted Marinelli to scream, “I’m tired of seeing you on the ground!”
But Marinelli had praise for McGruder as well, especially during 1-one-1 drills. Marinelli screamed to McGruder, “Nice to get some pads on your (butt). I like that (expletive).” McGruder also caused RB Earnest Graham to fumble during 11-on-11 drills.
The Bucs lines worked on combo blocks, and Walker and Mahan did a good job on Spires and McFarland on the first rep. However, McFarland and Spires won the next rep.
Bryant and Bradley got the better of Stinchcomb and Nimmo. After the last rep, Bryant yelled, “It’s hot!” as he bent over in exhaustion. That caused Marinelli to yell “Quit saying it’s (expletive) hot!”
In the final 11-on-11 session, Walker, who was flagged earlier in the day for holding on middle linebacker Shelton Quarles, was flagged for a false start and removed from the lineup. Walker was disgusted with himself and threw his helmet down on the ground as he walked back to the sideline.
Watson hit the hole hard on a running play, showing good power up the middle, while Carnell “Cadillac” Williams showed some great wiggle and juking ability. Williams also showed great pass protection skills by sticking a blitzing Jermaine Phillips at the line of scrimmage.
Free safety Will Allen got a good pop on running back Ian Smart. He also drilled Lawrie on a pass thrown into the end zone during 7-on-7 drills, which caused an incompletion and prevented points from going up on the scoreboard. Arbet had a great pass breakup on Smith.
First-year middle linebacker Jermaine Taylor plays so fast and gets great depth on his drops down the middle in Cover 2.
Bolden made a great pass breakup near the sidelines on Madise by clubbing the ball away, prompting Tomlin to say, “That’s going to be your weapon of choice.”
Cox had a nice pass breakup on wide receiver Kevin Youngblood.
On the last play of practice, White and Smith got into a wild fight that featured punches being thrown and grabbing of the facemasks. Although Gruden didn’t like the fight, insiders told Pewter Report that Smith needed to get some nastiness and was going to be challenged in practice until the nastiness came out. Several insiders Pewter Report spoke with applauded the fight and said that Smith really needed it.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: [email protected]
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