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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held their third and final rookie mini-camp practice at One Buccaneer Place on Sunday morning.
The two-hour workout was held under sunny skies and in breezy conditions with the temperatures in the low-80s.
For the third straight day the Bucs offense sported red jerseys while the defense wore white jerseys. All the players were in pewter helmets, jerseys and shorts.
There was only one change to Tampa Bay's rookie mini-camp roster. Pittsburgh fullback Conredge Collins did not participate Sunday due to an injury.
Sunday's workout did not start off smoothly for the rookies, particularly the receivers. During warm-ups there were several dropped passes. Running back Josh Vaughan, wide receiver Amari Jackson, fullback Michael Christen and wide receiver Pat Carter were each guilty of at least one dropped pass during this drill.
After his early drop, Vaughan, who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Richmond, recovered nicely and turned in an impressive first hour of practice. He was especially good in zone cutting drills, which is the workout running backs coach Steve Logan uses the big exercise ball for.
One Bucs source told Pewter Report that Logan might win Coach of the Week at One Buc Place at the end of the rookie mini-camp, and it's not difficult to see why.
Logan, who worked with offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski at Boston College, keeps things interesting for the running backs and fullbacks and is easily the most vocal coach on the field.
In addition to the zone drills, Logan had his players run through cutting drills, which featured pads lined up vertically on the field that the players had to quickly step through before making a hard cut to the right or left at the end.
Logan also used the JUGGS machine and bungee cord again, testing the players' hands and forward lean/power, respectively.
There were plenty of dropped passes during the JUGGS drill, but Vaughan was impressive catching the football.
Another running back that stood out was Hofstra RB Kareem Huggins, who is a try-out player. The 5-foot-8, 189-pound Huggins has displayed impressive athleticism this weekend and could be signed to Tampa Bay's roster this week depending on how the team feels he fared during Sunday's entire workout.
Huggins graduated from Hofstra in 2007, so he was out of football for a year before auditioning for the Bucs. He carried the ball 428 times for 2,188 yards (5.1 avg.) and 21 touchdowns during his collegiate career.
Another tryout player the Bucs could sign at the conclusion of the rookie mini-camp is USF tackle Marc Dile (6-4, 300), who apparently has caught the team's eye this weekend. Dile was one of USF's better offensive linemen when he wasn't battling injuries during his collegiate career.
While Logan worked with the running backs, wide receivers coach Richard Mann and assistant RBs coach Tim Berbenich worked with the receivers on route running and catching the football.
Mann and Berbenich had their players working on one and double cuts coming off of press coverage. The pad/ground drills were being used to help the players cut in and out of their routes quickly.
Seventh-round pick Sammie Stroughter continued to showcase impressive footwork and route-running ability during these drills, but he needs to be more consistent. All the players did a nice job of catching the football from Richard Bisaccia, who was helping Mann and Berbenich this morning.
Bucs first-round pick, rookie quarterback Josh Freeman, missed a pass in the flat to fullback Michael Christen early this morning, but he quickly rebounded.
Freeman was sharp, but some of the receivers were not. Tight ends Ryan Purvis and Cedric Hill each dropped passes. But that didn't stop Freeman from showcasing a strong and accurate arm today.
Defensive coordinator Jim Bates spent a significant amount of time watching the defensive backs. Head coach Raheem Morris was also watching closely when the defensive backs were working on defending fade routes.
The players were using the sideline to help as an extra defender. The first set of reps had the defensive backs turning towards the ball and jumping up to intercept the pass or bat it away. The second set had them breaking up the pass once the ball came in over their heads. The receivers had to wait until they saw the receiver start to catch the pass in order to avoid a penalty.
"Play the hands," yelled defensive backs coach Joe Baker repeatedly.
Cornerback E.J. Biggers looked like the only natural pass catcher in the group. Many of the other defensive backs had bad hands. Cornerback safety DeAngelo Willingham did make a nice one-handed catch on a pass that was off the mark.
Bates spent a lot of time standing at midfield and switching his focus on the different position groups. The linebackers spent a lot of time breaking on pass routes and intercepting passes. After working on the blocking sled, the defensive tackles and ends were split apart. Both spent time working on run defense with shedding a block and pursuing to the ball.
Of the defensive tackles rookie third-round pick Roy Miller looked the quickest. Miller and Dre Moore were clearly the most polished. Moore appeared to be half a step slower than Miller.
The first string defense for the mini-camp were as follows: right defensive end Louis Holmes, Moore and Miller at defensive tackle, and Kyle Moore at left defensive end. The left outside linebacker was Jamall Johnson, Maurice Crum was the middle linebacker, and Terence Moore was the right linebacker. The right cornerback was Biggers, and Kyle Arrington was the left cornerback. At safety were C.J. Byrd and Jeffrey Jack.
Notable on the second team was Willingham at right cornerback and Marshall McDuffie at safety. A college safety, McDuffie has been seeing reps at corner as well.
After Sunday's practice concluded the players gathered on the field for a group photo. From there, Morris spent 10-15 minutes working with try-out quarterback Rodney Landers, but not as a signal caller. Morris was looking at 6-foot, 220-pounder as a defensive back after he showcased impressive athleticism during rookie mini-camp. It is unclear whether the Bucs will sign Landers to their roster, but it's possible as the Bucs plan to sign 4-5 try-out players from the rookie mini-camp.
Tampa Bay's 2009 rookie mini-camp is in the books. The next time the Bucs take the field for practice will be together (rookies and veterans) at organized team activities, which begin in two weeks.