Senior Bowl practices resumed Tuesday, with both the North and South squads conducting their respective workouts at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
The North team, coached by the Oakland Raiders, practiced first, sporting full pads during the two-hour morning workout.
This morning's North team workout was very physical, certainly more physical than yesterday's practice, which featured the players in shells (shorts, shoulder pads and helmets).
Penn State linebacker Dan Connor had the hardest hit of practice on a pass thrown over the middle of the field during an 11-on-11 session. The hit put running back Justin Forsett on the ground in a hurry and was quite impressive.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden spent a significant time watching the wide receivers and quarterbacks from the stands. The quarterbacks – USC QB John David Booty, Delaware QB Joe Flacco and Michigan QB Chad Henne – performed much better from an accuracy and arm strength standpoint than the day before.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Henne needs to work on his accuracy, but he showed some surprising mobility on offense as the Oakland Raiders coaching staff had him run several play-action rollouts and bootlegs.
Two running backs really impressed on Tuesday. East Carolina RB Chris Johnson's speed continues to impress, and the Buccaneers are looking to add speed to the running back position. He also displayed soft hands as a receiver out of the backfield.
Perhaps the most impressive player at the North practice on Tuesday was Cal RB Justin Forsett, who was inconsistent on Monday but showed good acceleration, balance, speed and vision throughout Tuesday's workout.
Speaking of consistency, Virginia Tech wide receiver Eddie Royal followed up his impressive performance on Monday with a solid outing on Tuesday.
Michigan State tight end Kellen Davis stood out on the practice field on Monday due to his 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame. He was inconsistent during Monday's practice in terms of catching the ball. However, Davis rebounded nicely Tuesday, throwing some nice blocks in full pads and showing good mobility and decent speed for a player with such size.
Free agency will feature several talented tight ends, but Davis is a player the Bucs could invest a draft pick in to groom behind Alex Smith and Jerramy Stevens, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 29.
With Ronde Barber scheduled to turn 33 and Brian Kelly 32 this year, the Buccaneers will be in the market for a cornerback this year.
Two players – Tracy Porter (Indiana) and Terrell Thomas (USC) – made some splash plays during practice, which must have caught the eyes of Tampa Bay's coaches and scouts.
Porter intercepted Delaware QB Joe Flacco during a 9-on-7 drill and returned it for a touchdown. Thomas forced a fumble near the sideline during an 11-on-11 session later in practice.
Tampa Bay's cornerbacks accounted for seven of the team's 16 interceptions in 2007, but the Bucs are looking for more turnovers — and at least one more cornerback — in 2008.
SOUTH TEAM NEWS AND NOTES The South team, which is being coached by the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff, conducted its practice in full pads at Ladd Peebles Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Tulane running back Matt Forte (6-1, 219) showed great yards-after-contact ability this afternoon. He is a tall, upright runner, but he worked on that flaw and got his pad level down to run through several defenders during the practice.
Kentucky RB Rafeal Little also had a good day. However, Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice stole some of his thunder by turning in an awesome workout. He made some tough runs and was effective in terms of getting the ball to the outside. Little is talented, but he also has great leadership kills and is very passionate about football.
Speaking of Kentucky, quarterback Andrew Woodson is clearly the best quarterback on the South squad, but he has a slight hitch in his delivery, similar to what Jason Campbell had coming out of Auburn. The Buccaneers are more interested in the North team quarterbacks and have their eye on Delaware QB Joe Flacco.
The South team's wide receivers really struggled to catch the ball and the quarterbacks struggled to hit them in stride, which made for another inconsistent day in the passing game. LSU WR Early Doucet was the best receiver on the South squad today.
Alabama WR D.J. Hall needs to work on his route running. Texas WR Limas Sweed should have caught some passes he dropped today, but he made a spectacular one-handed grab in individual drills.
The tight ends for the South squad do not measure up to the ones on the North squad in terms of pro ability, but 6-foot-8 TE Brad Cottam, from Tennessee, has good size, but lacks athletic ability and receiving skills.
Kentucky TE Jacob Tamme proved to be ineffective in terms of in-line blocking. He might be too small to be an effective blocker at the next level.
The South squad has really been working to get Houston WR Donnie Avery the ball in a lot of different ways, including reverses. Today he fumbled a reverse, which didn't help his cause.
Newberry College guard Heath Benedict had another solid day. He showed a lot of aggressiveness and showed that he belongs in the NFL with some of the other players. At 6-foot-5, 332-pounds, Benedict carries his weight extremely well and is very strong.
The defensive line did not fare well during 1-on-1 drills today. In fact, the defensive linemen must have jumped offsides at least five times during this drill. Some of the guilty parties included Maryland's Dre Moore, Texas A&M's Brad Bryant and Hampton's Kendall Langford.
For the second straight day, Moore has been dominant up front, beating multiple guards and centers. Moore has great initial punch that jolts his opponents, which allows him to penetrate up field and get under opposing offensive linemen's pads. Moore has had a good start to his week in Mobile.
During punt return drills, Little and Troy cornerback Leodis McKelvin did a great job of catching the ball cleanly on punt returns. There were a few times when both players caught the ball on the run and showed good wiggle and burst once the ball was in their hands.
BUCS CONTINUE TO CONDUCT INTERVIEWS PewterReport.com learned Tuesday that the following players either talked with Tampa Bay or scheduled a meeting with the Buccaneers at Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice USF LB Ben Moffitt Troy CB Leodis McKelvin Missouri TE Martin Rucker USC QB John David Booty Boston College OL Gesder Cherilus USC CB Terrell Thomas
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