The Bucs dedicated a significant amount of Friday morning's practice to the two-minute offense and red zone play. The physical practice lasted two hours and was held in full pads.
“Today was two-minute, and you saw it executed by four different quarterbacks,” said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. “We had the opportunity to go down the field. We needed three to tie it and six to win it. We were backed up on the minus-35 with 1:35 left to play. We had two timeouts on offense, and the defense had one.
“All sorts of situations were popping up. It was awesome. Just like Sundays. We also did some more red zone stuff. We can’t throw out a stat like [scoring touchdowns 60 percent of the time] without practicing it down there. We just wanted to emphasize that.”
Morris was pleased with the play of his two young quarterbacks — Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson, who saw more playing time Friday.
“I believe Luke [McCown] and Byron [Leftwich] took the first four snaps each period, but our two young guys took most of the reps today,” said Morris. “They were good and impressive. We didn’t look like a rag-tag football team. They handled themselves well. Josh Johnson threw a slant for a touchdown. The other Josh executed a drive to help us get down there to kick a field goal. They were being careful with the ball, yet they weren’t scared or fearful. They managed the huddle.”
Leftwich, who like Freeman is a former first-round pick, takes pride in seeing the former Kansas State signal caller perform well like he did Friday.
“I’ve been through it, and there are going to be good days and bad days,” said Leftwich. “There are going to be good days and bad days for guys that have been in this league 10 years. I just try to help him understand that, to make sure he doesn’t get too low when things don’t go well, and make sure he doesn’t get too high when things go great. I’ve got him under my wing, trying to help him out, because I was in his position. I’m going to help him as much as I can.”Several players were held out of the practice, including wide receiver Michael Clayton (hamstring), WR Joel Filani (hamstring), WR Kelly Campbell (quad), center Jeff Faine (groin), running back Derrick Ward (foot), linebacker Angelo Crowell (hamstring) and kicker Matt Bryant (leg).
A few others sustained injuries during Friday's workout, including Bucs defensive lineman Greg Peterson (knee), tackle Jeremy Trueblood (back) and running back Clifton Smith (hamstring) They are listed as day-to-day.
The good news for the Bucs is three players – WR Antonio Bryant (knee), and defensive linemen Louis Holmes (back) and Kyle Moore (shoulder) – returned to practice Friday.
Bryant was impressive in his return to action, taking a hard hit from linebacker Geno Hayes near the sideline during a two-minute offensive drill. Not only did he get up from that crushing hit, Bryant hauled in a long touchdown pass down the rigtht sideline from quarterback Byron Leftwich on the very next play.
“I was more than okay with [Geno’s] hit,” said Morris. “I was more interested in why Bryant didn’t step out of bounds in the two-minute drill. You let the guys go live they can get a little animated and forget the situation. I kind of went over there and ripped him for that since the clock kept rolling. I was mad at him for about a second until on the next play he went yard and scored. I gave him a hip bump on that one and moved on. I was trying not to ride the rollercoaster of emotions.”
The Bucs cancelled their special teams practice, which was scheduled for Friday afternoon, for a team function. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris is taking the team to the movies.
Tampa Bay is scheduled to hold two practices Saturday. The players will have the day off Sunday.