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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field for their Wednesday afternoon training camp practice at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex sporting shorts, jerseys and helmets.
This afternoon’s practice was held in extremely hot and humid conditions with a slight breeze. The thermometer underneath a scoreboard on the closest field read 106 degrees at the beginning of the afternoon workout. However, the cloud cover did bring a light, but steady rain toward the end of practice.
The feeling around the afternoon practice was all business as the players suited up for their last two-a-day practice of training camp. There was little chatter and no music at the beginning of practice.
Head coach Jon Gruden held the morning practice inside the Milk House to give all of his players some rest from the sun so every player was dressed out for the afternoon practice. Most of the veterans and players that are nursing injuries are normally given the second practice of the day off, but not on Wednesday afternoon.
Tight end Matt Herian, who has been nursing a calf injury for most of training camp, was the only player not participating in practice drills. Herian was seen riding the stationary bike on the sideline, which is the normal occurrence for injured players.
The special teams had a light workout at the beginning of the afternoon practice, working on blocking for punts and getting off of blocks after the ball is already in the air. Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia was pleased with the look of the special teams during the afternoon practice.
Once stretching concluded, the players and coaches broke off into different parts of the fields to work with their respective units in warm-ups.
The wide receivers worked on staying on their tippy toes moving their feet from front to back. This drill is used to keep the receivers conscious of staying on their feet and keeping their feet in bounds when catching a pass in the back of the end zone or on the sideline.
The wide receivers also worked on slant routes in the middle of the field and out routes to the sideline. Wide receiver coach Richard Mann was heard yelling at his receivers, “Quick feet and get your depth.”
In the group installation period, the Bucs ran reverse plays for the second consecutive day, this time, running two compared to the three the team ran in Tuesday afternoon’s practice. The difference on Wednesday was the formations that the offense lined up in when running the reverses.
On the first reverse, wide receiver David Boston got the handoff on the reverse in a three-tight end set, which the Bucs call their “Dawg” personnel group. Tight ends Alex Smith and Anthony Becht lined up on the right side and tight end Jerramy Stevens lined up on the left side. On the second reverse, wide receiver Mark Jones got the handoff in a “Regular” formation, which is a two running-back, two wide-receiver, one tight-end set.
Quarterback Jeff Garcia and wide receiver Joey Galloway seem to have their timing for the season down pat as Garcia and Galloway hooked up multiple times during the afternoon. Garcia showed off his arm strength two times during group installation hitting Galloway on two 40-yard go routes down the seam.
Garcia also hit Galloway with a corner route from inside the red zone in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Galloway and Garcia hooked up one more time during a defensive scout team drill on an out route to the sideline in the end zone. After practice, the QBs and Galloway threw a couple of extra passes just to ensure that the timing was there on the deep balls.
The defense had a tremendous practice on Tuesday, breaking on the ball during pass coverage and cornerback Sammy Davis showed more of that on Wednesday. Davis broke on a pass from Garcia to Boston to bat down the ball and break up a possible touchdown reception.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was seen working with rookie defensive end Gaines Adams and defensive end Greg White off to the side during a scout team defensive drill. Kiffin was working with Adams in a one-on-one fashion, teaching him how to recognize the way the offensive tackle was going to attack him and how to get off the block.
Kiffin was showing Adams how to use a swim move when the offensive tackle takes an inside move, and to use a slap or spin move when the tackle attacks Adams from the outside. With White, Kiffin was showing him how to use his hands to get the offensive tackle’s hands off of him to get to the quarterback.
During the offensive scout team session, the first team defense struggled to force the offense into check down passes, which has been a regular occurrence during training camp. However, the second team made up for that forcing nothing but check down routes during six plays that were run.
Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris was seen talking to rookie safety Sabby Piscitelli on how to read different formations. Morris was teaching the rookie the different reads on either stacked wide-receiver formations or when they are spread out wide.
As the third-team defense was running against the scout team offense, Gruden was heard yelling, “You have to cover the damn tight ends, they are wide [expletive] open.” Gruden continued when he was heard saying, “Where is the pass rush at?”
Kiffin was heard yelling at Adams after he was unable to get under the block of the offensive tackle saying, “Gaines you have got to get under that thing, you have to.”
Tight ends Keith Heinrich and Stevens made some nice touchdown receptions during the scout team offensive session. Heinrich had to go up and get a pass from quarterback Luke McCown and Stevens caught a nice reception in the back of the end zone from McCown as well.
Quarterback Chris Simms, who has struggled the entire training camp, fared a bit better on Wednesday and may have had his best practice to date. Simms threw a couple of good passes to wide receivers Paris Warren and Kyle Smith, but threw high to wide receiver Chas Gessner who went up and got the ball.
Quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett was seen working on the side with Garcia, McCown and quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on their check-off calls. He was also working with all three quarterbacks with the hand signals to use when playing on the road in a raucous stadium. Simms was not among the QBs that Hackett was working with.
To end the practice working on the two-minute drill, Garcia had his pass attempt to wide receiver Ike Hilliard tipped and rookie cornerback Marcus Hamilton intercepted the pass to cause a stir from the defensive side of the team.
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