The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field for their Tuesday afternoon training camp practice at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex sporting jerseys, helmets and shorts.
The first five days of training camp were unusually cool, but Tuesday afternoon’s workout was held in extremely hot and humid conditions.
At one point during the practice, the thermometer located on the bottom of a nearby scoreboard read 112 degrees.
Several players, including tackle Luke Petitgout, linebacker Barrett Ruud, cornerback Sammy Davis and tight end Matt Herian were held out of practice this afternoon.
Tampa Bay linebackers Derrick Brooks, Ryan Nece, fullback Mike Alstott, guard Davin Joseph and defensive tackle Chris Hovan, were the practice captains and led the Bucs in calisthenics to start the workout.
Once the stretching concluded, the players and coaches broke off into different parts of the fields to work on individual drills.
Bucs wide receivers coach Richard Mann and head coach Jon Gruden challenged the receivers to push through soreness and the extreme heat this afternoon.
“Give me some more speed,” Mann yelled. “I need more speed.”
The receivers responded well, although WR Maurice Stovall, who leapfrogged Michael Clayton on the team’s official depth chart on Tuesday morning, dropped a pass on a slant pattern during the warm-up period.
Gruden was quite vocal during warm-ups as he watched the receivers closely. The receivers worked a lot on square outs this afternoon.
“Can we get a square out?” Gruden yelled.
Bucs WR David Boston responded by running a solid square route and making a great catch near the sideline while managing to keep both feet in bounds.
Just hours after learning that Stovall had unseated him on the team’s official depth chart, Bucs WR Michael Clayton responded quite well during Tuesday afternoon’s practice. He ran sharp routes and displayed soft hands.
Some of the receivers tested Gruden’s patience, though. One in particular was WR Chas Gessner, who apparently wasn’t moving fast enough for Gruden this afternoon.
“Come on, Chas,” yelled Gruden. “Move your ass.”
Receiver Chad Owens had one of the more impressive catches this afternoon when he managed to palm a pass with his right hand near the sideline for a catch during warm-ups.
The Bucs seem to be committed to featuring the Rocket backfield quite a bit this season. This backfield includes Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman, both of whom did a lot of perimeter running and displayed soft hands this afternoon.
Rookie running back Kenneth Darby cannot say the same. During an 11-on-11 session, defensive tackle Jovan Haye forced Darby to fumble, which allowed safety Will Allen to recover.
With veteran left tackle Luke Petitgout still out of the lineup with an ailing back, Anthony Davis has been starting at left tackle while rookie Arron Sears has been starting at left guard.
Although those two players are better run blockers than pass protectors, one can tell that the Bucs have a lot more confidence running the ball on the right side of the line behind RT Jeremy Trueblood and RG Davin Joseph based on Gruden’s playcalling. A good portion of Tampa Bay’s running plays went that way this afternoon.
Tampa Bay is also using its receivers to help establish the running game. During a 9-on-7 drill, Gradkowski took a snap from center and handed the ball off to WR Joey Galloway on an end-around.
Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia once again displayed an accurate arm. He’s also very decisive and savvy. Garcia’s experience in the West Coast offense and NFL is really paying off for Gruden, who has liked what he has seen from his veteran signal caller.
Garcia made some nice throws to Galloway, particularly on slants, during the 11-on-11 session, which featured a scout team Bucs defense.
The scout team’s job was to simulate New England’s defense. This is not an easy task, as rookie safety Sabby Piscitelli can attest to after getting reamed out by Gruden and Bucs linebackers coach Gus Bradley for not simulating the proper assignment.
“Read the card, Sabby,” Gruden and Bradley yelled.
Tampa Bay’s scout team defense did, however, manage to make some plays. Cornerback Torrie Cox made a nice breakup on a pass intended for Stovall. That irked Gruden.
“We need to make some plays, men,” Gruden yelled.
During warm-ups, Gruden would challenge his players, including the quarterbacks, by calling out a defense before the snap to see how the quarterback would react with his reads. Based on how Gruden reacted, Garcia passed with flying colors.
Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has struggled to throw the deep ball in training camp, but he got off a good one this afternoon when he hit WR Chad Lucas in stride for a 30-yard gain.
Tampa Bay QB Chris Simms received a significant amount of work with the scout team offense during 11-on-11 drills.
Unfortunately for Simms, he did not fare well.
His first pass, which was thrown down the left seam of the field, was way off the mark. On his second rep, Simms took the snap from center and dropped back to throw but slipped and fell to the turf before he could get the ball off.
During the same 11-on-11 drill, Simms was pressured by defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, which prompted him to throw an errant pass downfield and right into Allen’s hands for an interception.
Simms also had two pass attempts knocked down at the line of scrimmage during the 11-on-11 session. His final pass attempt hit linebacker Ryan Nece in between the numbers, but Nece couldn’t hold onto the ball for the pick.
Simms was finally replaced by QB Luke McCown during the 11-on-11 scout team offense session.
In Simms’ defense, he was running an offense that he’s unfamiliar with, but he did not look right throwing the football this afternoon. Not even close.
McCown was extremely sharp this afternoon, especially throwing the square out to the sideline. He placed the ball where only the receivers could get it, and he got the ball over the sideline in a hurry.
Although the first-team defense sustained a decent pass rush on Simms, Gruden urged the defensive linemen to be quick off the ball on each snap.
“Get all of the ball,” Gruden said. “Please, [defensive end] Greg White. Get off the damn ball.”
Gruden also attempted to send a message to first-round draft pick, defensive end Gaines Adams, during this session.
“Be special, men,” Gruden yelled to the defensive linemen. “Be something special, Gaines.”
The Bucs dedicated a portion of this afternoon’s practice to special teams work. Wide receiver Mark Jones and cornerback Phillip Buchanon each took turns fielding punts.
Special teams coach Richard Bisaccia had some notable praise for second-year cornerback Alan Zemaitis, who caught his eye during the punt drills. Zemaitis will need to make his mark on special teams if he hopes to make Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster.
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