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Tampa Bay took the field at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday for its afternoon practice. The Bucs sported shorts, jerseys and helmets. Temperatures were cooled off by plenty of cloud cover and a nice breeze as a huge storm worked its way across the Orlando area.
It was apparent that the Bucs knew they had little time to waste with the storm coming in. After stretching, the team went into an 11-on-11 session, which was quite unusual seeing as they usually hold individual and 7-on-7 sessions first.
Safeties Jermaine Phillips and Will Allen played well in 11-on-11s, especially when they were given the opportunity to blitz. The Bucs have been blitzing their safeties more this year than I can ever recall in a training camp. That might be a sign of things to come, especially since defense is looking for different ways to stop the run on a more consistent basis.
You can also throw Tampa Bay’s linebackers into this group. Pro Bowl LB Derrick Brooks notched a sack on quarterback Luke McCown on a blitz this afternoon. Although he didn’t notch a quarterback takedown, LB Jeff Gooch displayed some impressive speed and cover ability by breaking up a pass intended for wide receiver Ike Hilliard on an underneath route.
Rookie running back Derek Watson has really cleaned up his game after stringing together a couple of sloppy practices last week. He once again showed an ability to cut quickly and hit open holes in a hurry.
The Bucs attempted to get RB Cadillac Williams involved in the passing game early in this session, but defensive end Greg Spires prevented that from happening by breaking up a pass intended for the rookie.
After that 11-on-11 session, Tampa Bay broke off into a special teams drill. DeAndrew Rubin, Watson, Edell Shepherd, Derrick Lewis and Chris Davis returned kickoffs. Davis dropped one of the kickoffs he fielded, and it wasn’t long after that and a few other mishaps on kickoff coverage that head coach Jon Gruden expressed some frustration with this unit. “Get ready to play a game,” Gruden yelled. “There’s too much coaching going on here.”
From there, the Bucs went back to another 11-on-11 drill.
The Bucs had Anthony Davis starting at left tackle, Sean Mahan at left guard, John Wade at center, Jeb Terry at right guard and Chris Colmer at right tackle in place of Kenyatta Walker, who participated in the morning workout and was limited as a precaution.
Second-string quarterback Chris Simms received a lot of reps this afternoon, and that’s probably a sign of things to come on Friday night when Tampa Bay plays Tennessee in its first preseason contest.
Simms was on fire this afternoon, hitting wide receiver Edell Shepherd deep for a touchdown after Shepherd had split and beat the safeties. A few plays later, Simms pump-faked and found WR Ike Hilliard open down the left side of the field for a big gain.
One of the more comical moments of the afternoon practice came in the 11-on-11 session when linebackers coach Joe Barry rushed up to the line of scrimmage and moved defensive tackle Anthony Bryant’s butt (and body) over to the right before the ball was actually snapped. This was because Bryant was lined up on the guard’s wrong shoulder.
This practice was used mostly to prepare for the Tennessee Titans. Tampa Bay’s offense ran scout team for the defense, and vice versa.
That was made apparent by not only the coaches looking at sheets with plays on them before having the players break the huddle, but also with defensive tackles Bryant and Lynn McGruder lining up as offensive guards. Both players even sported white jerseys while playing on offense. After asking a few sources about Bryant and McGruder’s participation on offense, they all assured Pewter Report that the concept was for scout-team purposes only.
Tight end Nate Lawrie has really struggled in the passing game since injuring his ankle last week. He dropped a perfectly thrown pass from QB Luke McCown during the 11-on-11 drill.
The Bucs once again ran the two-minute drill, having the first-team offense go up against the second-team defense, and vice versa.
Cornerback Blue Adams really stood out during this drill. His best play came on a deep ball thrown to Hilliard down the left sideline. Adams did a great job of taking the perfect angle to cut Hilliard off, preventing him from having a chance to catch the ball.
Wide receiver Michael Clayton capped this drill off by sliding in-between two defenders in the end zone to grab a pass thrown low by QB Brian Griese for the touchdown.
Tampa Bay’s afternoon practice was cut short by about one hour due to inclimate weather in the Orlando area.
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