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The Buccaneers took the field in shells (shorts, jerseys, pads and helmets) for Tuesday morning’s training camp practice held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Bucs Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon was in attendance for the morning practice.
Temperatures were in the high 80s and low 90s, and the humidity made for extremely hot and sticky conditions.
Three offensive linemen – Anthony Davis (thigh), Derrick Deese (ankle) and Jeb Terry (MCL) – were held out of the morning workout. Davis seemed to be walking much better, but Terry is still on crutches and his leg is still mobilized. Tight end Will Heller was limited due to a bruised hip. Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland was excused from practice for personal reasons.
The offensive linemen started the practice working on footwork and eventually worked their way over to the two-man blocking sled.
The wide receivers worked on comeback routes with WRs coach Richard Mann. Former Arena Football League star Jay Gruden served as the quarterback for this particular drill. He rifled each pass at the receivers as they ran a hard route back at him. The receivers did a nice job of catching the ball during this drill.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden kept a close eye on rookie WR Larry Brackins this morning. During warm-ups, Gruden urged Brackins to really sell a fake before running a post pattern. “Be alive out there, Larry,” Gruden yelled.
The receivers and defensive backs had a spirited 1-on-1 session on the near field.
Bucs WR Michael Clayton started this drill off on an impressive note by making a great adjustment for a pass that was underthrown. Clayton, who was covered by CB Juran Bolden, managed to cut off his route short of the end zone and haul in the pass in the process and walk into the end zone for the score.
Bolden had a rough outing during the 1-on-1 session. He pulled down WR Edell Shepherd before the pass could even be thrown the receiver’s way, which would have certainly called for a pass interference penalty.
Wide receiver Derrick Lewis also flashed some playmaking ability, making a nice cut to catch a touchdown in the corner of the end zone vs. CB Ronyell Whitaker.
Rookie WR J.R. Russell got his hands on a pass thrown toward the corner of the end zone, but he tipped the ball up, which allowed CB Blue Adams to catch it for the interception in the end zone. Russell finished this drill off by making a great catch in the back of the end zone vs. safety Jermaine Phillips.
Adams was very impressive this morning, especially in this drill. He did a nice job of breaking up a pass intended for WR Derek McCoy in the back of the end zone.
Bucs WR Ike Hilliard continues to display great route-running ability. On one play, Hilliard made a nice juke move to the right and cut back to the left, losing CB Torrie Cox on his way to the end zone for a touchdown.
One can tell that CB Ronde Barber is quite polished as a cover corner. However, Barber blew a chance for an interception during 1-on1-s when he tipped a pass up in the air and allowed rookie WR Paris Warren to grab it and keep his feet in bounds for the score.
Bucs WR DeAndrew Rubin dropped a pass while being covered by Cox.
From there, the Bucs held a brief punt period, where Hilliard, Rubin, Cox and running backs Cadillac Williams and Ian Smart fielded punts. Smart fumbled the ball on one of his attempts.
Tampa Bay held a very spirited 11-on-11 session this morning. The defense was fired up, mostly because this particular drill was held as a blitz period.
The Bucs had Todd Steussie starting at left tackle and Scott Jackson starting at right guard. Dan Buenning and Matt Stinchcomb rotated at left guard while John Wade started at center. Kenyatta Walker was the team’s first-team right tackle.
The defense got off to a fast start in this drill. Linebacker Jeff Gooch blitzed off the strong side and sacked quarterback Chris Simms.
Speaking of Simms, he might have been involved in one of the more amusing plays of the morning practice. During 11-on-11s, Simms dropped back to throw on a screen play, which the defense read perfectly. Instead of making a costly mistake with the ball, Simms simply fired a pass directly at DT Delbert Cowsette’s head, which caused an incompletion. Cowsette had great penetration on the play, and it’s a good thing he had his helmet on since Simms’ pass would have probably taken his head off.
Safety Kalvin Pearson continued to display a knack for drilling the ball carrier when he popped RB Derek Watson, who had worked his way 10 yards up field before the hard hit.
Backup RT Chris Colmer fared well during this drill, picking up a blitz from MLB Barrett Ruud and later holding off LB Bam Hardmon on a blitz off the strong side.
Bucs DT Bryan Save nearly picked off Simms after he surprised the quarterback by dropping back into coverage.
Defensive end Greg Spires pushed QB Luke McCown up into the pocket, which allowed a blitzing LB Derrick Brooks to record the would-be-sack. Despite watching McCown struggle under duress, Gruden demanded the defense apply even more pressure. “Blitz the (expletive) out of this young guy,” Gruden screamed.
Rookie G Jonathan Clinkscale struggled a bit during this period. He had a false start, which irked Gruden, who pulled him from the action for a few plays. “Come on, Clinkscales,” Gruden said in reference to what the rookie guard’s jersey read on Friday night.
Tight end Anthony Becht dropped a catchable pass in the flat during 11-on-11s. After showing some pass-catching ability in the beginning of camp, Becht’s hands have become suspect.
Gruden came away from the blitz period pleased with both the offense and defense.
“I want to see if we can blitz,” said Gruden. “Forget about getting there when you break a protection down – when you bring two strong and you have one protector and force a hot throw, that’s one thing. That’s a scheme sack. ‘Can we run over backs and tight ends and sack them anyhow? Do we have the physical fire power to be a great blitzing team? Do we have the insurance policies on offense in case they do blitz? Can we blitz the defense by picking them up flush and taking advantage of single coverage and exploiting them for big plays?’ There was some of that on both sides today with a lot of the physicalness in that period.”
After the blitz period concluded, the Bucs went to their cool down period. From there, the team went right into field goal drills.
Kickers Todd France and Matt Bryant kicked in a random order, with Bryant drilling his first two tries before moving aside and allowing France to attempt two field goals. France made his first attempt but missed his second wide left.
That turned out to be a big miss since Gruden had promised to extend the players’ curfew an hour had the kickers went perfect this morning. But Gruden decided to give Bryant a shot to extend the team’s curfew by an hour by allowing him to try a 53-yarder. Bryant ended up drilling the kick, which prompted his teammates to celebrate in dramatic fashion. Bryant went 4-of-4 on his field goal attempts this morning.
During 7-on-7 drills, Gruden reminded his players that they were preparing for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who come to town on Saturday night. “We’re playing Jacksonville right now,” Gruden said. “Play the game right now.”
Rookie tight end Alex Smith got himself open down the left sideline, which allowed QB Brian Griese to hit him in stride.
Brackins did a nice job of beating CB Brian Kelly and S Hamza Abullah down the left sideline for a big catch – perhaps Brackins’ biggest of training camp thus far.
However, Brackins caught the wrath of Gruden a few plays later when the rookie receiver hauled in a pass over the middle but allowed CB Torrie Cox to cause the fumble by knocking the ball out of his hands and onto the ground, where S Dexter Jackson scooped it up. “That’s unacceptable,” Gruden yelled as Brackins ran toward him.
Adams has really made significant progress in training camp. He was all over the field on Tuesday morning and drew praise from the defensive coaching staff on more than one occasion.
Second-year LB Marquis Cooper has made strides as well. He takes good angles and has really had a chance to show off his speed since he’s not having to think as much as he did last year. On one play, Cooper put himself in position to absolutely level fullback Jameel Cook, who had dropped a pass in the flat a few plays earlier. Linebackers coach Joe Barry reminded Cooper to capitalize on that kind of opportunity when it presents itself in a game. “That’s got to be a big-time hit,” Barry said. “You’ve got to knock that ball out.”
Cook can’t afford to slip up with FB Rick Razzano back on the field. In fact, Razzano put together another impressive practice on Tuesday morning, throwing some great blocks to open holes in the running game.
After struggling in the blitz period, McCown delivered some nice passes during the 7-on-7 session. One of those throws went to WR DeAndrew Rubin down the right seam of the field.
McCown also managed to place a pass in-between two defenders and into Hilliard’s hands for a big gain.
Tampa Bay ended its morning workout with about 15 minutes of special teams work.
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