The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field for their two-hour and 15 minute practice on Sunday afternoon in shorts, jerseys and helmets after going through the morning session in full pads.
It’s a good thing the Bucs didn’t sport full pads for the afternoon practice since it was held in extremely hot and humid conditions. In fact, the thermometer hanging underneath the scoreboard on one of the practice fields read 108 degrees as the Bucs were taking the field at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Cramping was an issue for some players on Sunday afternoon. Rookie defensive end Charles Bennett had to leave the practice early due to cramping. During an 11-on-11 full team session, play had to be stopped just before the ball was snapped after wide receiver Edell Shepherd fell to the ground holding his leg, which had cramped up.
Bucs tackle Kenyatta Walker and wide receiver Joey Galloway were once again held out of the afternoon practice as part of the team’s plan to keep them fresh and healthy.
ESPN reporters Chris Mortenson and Len Pasquarelli were in attendance covering the Bucs afternoon practice.
After calisthenics, the players broke off into positions to work with their respective coaches on individual drills.
Tampa Bay spent the first part of the practice implementing screen plays on offense. This included middle screens to tight ends Alex Smith and Anthony Becht.
Pewter Report can’t give much more detail on the screen plays than that as the Bucs certainly don’t appreciate it when we dissect particular plays in great detail. However, let’s just say that the screen plays were quite creative and well designed.
After running plenty of toss sweep plays in the first five practices of training camp, the Bucs offense began practicing a few shovel passes on Sunday afternoon. Although this play has never really led to much success for the Bucs under head coach Jon Gruden, it seems to be one of his favorite play calls.
Gruden spent part of the practice working with the wide receivers. He attempted to cover first-year WR Chas Gessner, who burnt Gruden down the sideline but dropped the pass. Gruden pumped his fist to the crowd in excitement.
On the next play, Bucs quarterback Chris Simms threw a perfect 40-yard strike into the back of the end zone for WR David Boston, but he couldn’t hold onto the pass.
The drops continued on Sunday afternoon. Edell Shepherd, who has made some nice plays and runs good routes in practice, dropped two passes during the afternoon workout, and that’s two too many for a player that’s fighting to keep his roster spot. One of the drops might have actually been partially deflected by nine-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks, who stretched out to defend the pass thrown by rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski.
Gradkowski took quite a few reps with the second-team offense this afternoon. Although this could just be part of Gruden’s plan for the signal callers, one has to wonder if Gradkowski could actually be pushing Tim Rattay for the backup job since the veteran quarterback hasn’t been impressive in camp.
One of the more humorous plays of practice came in an 11-on-11 drill when defensive tackle Chris Hovan appeared to jump offsides. Hovan stood up and started pointing at left guard Dan Buenning, who had false started. The coaches told Hovan that he had jumped early, and he responded by yelling, “No, no. You [expletive] false started.”
Several Bucs offensive players made impressive blocks and/or took good angles in practice, including guard Jeb Terry, who is doing an awful lot of pulling on running plays, and fullback Rick Razzano, who has been catching several passes out of the backfield over the last few practices.
Bucs backup left guard Toniu Fonoti made an impressive block in a full team drill when he got great leverage and pancaked linebacker Jermaine Taylor on a running play.
Tampa Bay’s defensive backs had a solid afternoon practice. Cornerback Torrie Cox made a nice pass breakup in 7-on-7 red zone drills.
Rookie CB Alan Zemaitis topped that play by jumping a QB Chris Simms pass intended for WR David Boson and intercepting it. The errant pass was probably Simms’ worst throw of training camp, but Zemaitis deserves credit for making a great play on the ball.
Despite the success of the defensive backs, Tampa Bay’s receivers still managed to make a few good plays of their own. Perhaps the most impressive play in the 7-on-7 red zone drill came when WR Michael Clayton ran a sharp slant route to get himself open in the back of the end zone for a perfect pass from Simms, which resulted in a score. After he caught the pass, Clayton spiked the ball in celebration.
After a brief special teams period, the Bucs went into an 11-on-11 full team drill.
Bucs CB Juran Bolden got off to a shaky start by coming over late to defend a pass in the flat to Boston, who hauled in the ball and sprinted up field for 15 more yards.
Simms had two really impressive throws in this session – one to Gessner and one to Becht, and both resulted in scores.
Tampa Bay is scheduled to hold a practice in pads from 8:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and its first special teams practice from 2:45 p.m. to 3:55 p.m. on Monday.
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