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It looked as though the warmer temperatures, earlier practice (9:45 a.m. start) and third day of practice began to take its toll on Bucs head coach Jon Gruden’s South team players Wednesday.
Some of the players, notably the wide receivers, running backs and offensive linemen, looked fatigued during Wednesday morning’s workout. At the end of the practice, Gruden acknowledged as much and stressed to his players to get some much-needed rest before taking part in their last practice, which is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday morning’s practice featured special teams coverage drills and interception return drills. These drills were almost identical to the way the Bucs run them during mini-camp and training camp, and linebackers coach Joe Barry and defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin helped to keep the intensity level up by running up and down the field with the players.
Perhaps the most interesting part of practice came when Arkansas’ Matt Jones, who is trying to make the transition from quarterback to wide receiver/tight end, fielded kickoffs for the South team. He doesn’t have speed to return kickoffs in the NFL, but he certainly has the hands. So far Gruden has been impressed with what he’s seen from Jones.
“He’s caught a lot of people’s attention,” said Gruden. “If there’s three of four guys who have been the talk of Senior Bowl this year he’s definitely one of those guys. He made two unbelievable catches today, one of which was a one-handed grab in the end zone. You’d have to look at a lot of film to find a play like that. He’s just got to get himself physically prepared to play wide receiver or tight end. It’s a different type of running. He’s a great kid and understands football. He’s got great talent.
One player who didn’t display soft hands was Tennessee running back Cedric Houston, who failed to field a kickoff cleanly and dropped two passes during passing drills.
Two players that had solid outings during Tuesday’s afternoon workout — USC defensive tackle Mike Patterson and Fresno State offensive lineman Logan Mankins — cooled off considerably Wednesday. However, both players’ performance still rivaled most of their teammates’ outings. They just didn’t do as much to stand out.
Auburn safety Junior Rosegreen didn’t have the impressive showing he had in the two previous practices. While Rosegreen has performed at a first-day draft level, Pewter Report has heard some whispers from several sources that there are some concerns regarding Rosegreen’s intelligence due to some alleged low test scores. One source told Pewter Report that Rosegreen will likely be drafted on the second day instead of the first due to this particular concern. He also said that some teams will not even consider drafting him.
Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers was sidelined Wednesday with a left hamstring injury he suffered during Tuesday’s workout. In other injury news, Alabama tackle Wesley Britt was carted off the field Wednesday with a hairline fracture. Also, UAB WR Roddy White and Virginia Tech S Eric Green will probably not play in Senior Bowl on Saturday due to hamstring injuries.
The quarterback play left much to be desired Wednesday. Miami QB Brock Berlin continued to struggle, tossing a interception to LSU defensive back Travis Daniels during 7-on-7 drills.
Auburn QB Jason Campbell had some trouble with the center/QB exchange. During 11-on-11 drills, he tripped and fell after taking the snap, Georgia QB David Greene also had some trouble, fumbling the snap from center during the same drill.
Although the receivers were noticeably fatigued on some plays, one player — Georgia WR Fred Gibson — had a pretty impressive showing, making some nice catches in traffic and showing some decent acceleration. Before entering the Senior Bowl, Gibson had earned a reputation for dropping too many catchable passes. However, he hasn’t shown that flaw this week in Mobile.
The biggest play of practice came on the first play of 11-on-11 drills when LSU defensive lineman Marcus Spears stuck his arm up and deflected a pass thrown by Campbell in the air. Not only did he get his big paw on the ball, Spears showed some impressive leaping ability when he jumped up and grabbed the ball for the interception.
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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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