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The Buccaneers took the practice fields at One Buccaneer Place for a two-hour workout on Tuesday morning.
The Bucs, who sported full pads for the practice, played under sunny skies and in hot and humid conditions with temperatures in the high 80s.
Several Bucs players were held out of the morning practice, including wide receivers Antonio Bryant (knee surgery), Joel Filani (hamstring), Dexter Jackson (ankle), cornerback Kyle Arrington (groin), linebacker Matt McCoy (leg), safety Will Allen (shoulder), defensive end Stylez G. White (shoulder), tackle Demar Dotson (knee) and kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring).
Tight end Kellen Winslow was on the field, but did not practice this morning. He was not injured. The team has elected to hold Winslow, who has battled some injuries during his career, to one practice per day as a precaution.
Cornerback Aqib Talib, who missed Monday's practice due to a family matter, and WR Kelly Campbell, who was sidelined for most of training camp with a quad injury, returned to practice Tuesday morning.
After stretching, the Bucs broke off into individual units to warm-up and run play install periods.
One thing that stood out during this session was the amount of dropped passes the receivers had. Pat Carter, Mario Urrutia, Michael Clayton and Sammie Stroughter each dropped a pass during this session.
Campbell, who is fighting an uphill battle to make Tampa Bay's 53-man roster due to missed playing time, had some rust to shake off, evidenced by his two drops during warm-ups.
Those receivers weren't the only players that made mistakes at the beginning of practice. During one particular part of a play install period, offensive lineman Julius Wilson had a false start with no defenders on the field.
The Buccaneers committed a significant amount of practice time to one-on-one blocks. The defensive linemen squared off against the offensive linemen, and the halfbacks worked on blitz pick up with linebackers. There were four lanes set up with blocking pads for the linebacker to choose to rush from, and the blocker had to read and meet the linebacker to make the block a few yards in front of a quarterback marker.
In the series, linebacker Adam Hayward beat running back Derrick Ward with a big hit that flattened Ward. Linebacker Niko Koutouvides beat running back Cadillac Williams easily. Fullback Jameel Cook made a nice block on Koutouvides that knocked him off balance, and Cook maintained his push of the linebacker out of the backfield.
Clifton Smith won his matchup against safety Jermaine Phillips, and his backfield mates were revved up after the diminutive Smith made his block on the physical Phillips, who saw a few reps at safety later in the practice.
Linebacker Geno Hayes beat running back Kareem Huggins with a combination of a physical hit and speed to pull away. Williams got a victory to even out his loss when he went against linebacker Quincy Black. The fifth-year running back took on the initial hit from Black and kept the linebacker against him and held him off. Black would get some revenge on Williams later in practice.
In the pass rushing one-on-one between the defensive and offensive linemen, the defensive tackles had a very good showing. The only loss from the top four tackles was against a starter, and there was a draw. Right guard Davin Joseph had a good rep stonewalling Ryan Sims on a bull rush. After a draw in their first battle, defensive tackle Roy Miller beat center Sean Mahan when Milller got under Mahan's pads and ripped his way by Mahan to get to the marker.
Defensive tackle Chris Hovan beat starting left guard Jeremy Zuttah on two straight reps. Hovan chopped Zuttah's hands away and shed the guard to get to the marker. Both reps were two of the most impressive rushes that Hovan has made in training camp. Backup defensive tackle Dre Moore won all three of his reps. He beat guard Marc Dile on bull rushes on consecutive plays, and did the same to Mahan.
The offensive tackles played well, and the defensive ends had a poor day getting to the quarterback marker. Left tackle Donald Penn had no problem stopping right defensive end Gaines Adams' bull rush, and pushed Adams out and around on a speed rush in the next attempt. Right tackle Anthony Alabi stopped left defensive end Kyle Moore on two reps. Moore tried speed rushes around the edge, but neither attempt was effective. Moore also jumped offsides.
Moore wasn't the only one, as Black jumped offsides as well. Black took a couple of reps rushing from the right defensive end spot against right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. The fourth-year veteran Trueblood kept Black off balance and ineffective at getting to the marker.
Defensive end Louis Holmes beat rookie left tackle Xavier Fulton with a nice speed rush spin move back to the inside on his second try. The first rep between Holmes and Fulton was a draw.
In the nine-on-nine run scrimmage session the defense did a good job defending the Bucs zone-blocking scheme. Running back Earnest Graham tried to cutback towards the middle on a zone right rush, but linebacker Barrett Ruud had Graham stopped at the line of scrimmage. Black made a nice play flying into the backfield and putting a big hit on Williams to stop him on a run up the middle.
"Nice play, Quincy Black," yelled defensive coordinator Jim Bates.
The defensive tackles continued the work they displayed during the one-on-one pass rushing session. Sims did a good job of filling running lanes and making running backs improvise away from the designed play. A zone-blocking scheme cannot afford to have defensive linemen penetrate the moving wall of blockers, but that is what was happening from the Bucs defenders. Miller got through to spoil a run by running down the line and stopping Ward. Sims busted the line while falling to the ground. He was so far into the backfield that Adams tripped over Sims and fell down.
During the 9-on-9 session the offense did have a few good runs, including one where Huggins ripped off a 10-yard dash up the middle before meeting safety Donte Nicholson, who drilled the rookie for the stop.
Graham didn't have a lot of running room in Tennessee, but he found a few holes to run through during this session. He made a nice cutback to the left side and outraced Ruud through the hole for a 30-yard touchdown.
Smith got past Ruud on a cutback run off the right side just be met by safety Tanard Jackson, who drew praise from defensive coordinator Jim Bates for being assignment sound and stopping the run on the play.
It's certainly not a newsflash, but Matt Bryant is in danger of not making the team due to his absence with the hamstring injury.
Bryant's competition, Mike Nugent, drilled a 51-yard field goal vs. the Titans, and performed fairly well in practice this morning.
Nugent started the session 4-of-4 on field goal attempts, drilling tries from 40, 42, 45 and 48 yards out. However, Nugent's final field goal attempt, a 49-yarder, missed wide left.
After the special teams (field goal) portion of practice, the Bucs ran a 7-on-7 red zone session. The quarterbacks produced some mixed results in the drill, which featured a lot of passing. That shouldn't come as a surprise as one of the weaknesses of a zone blocking running scheme is its ability to penetrate the end zone once inside the 20-yard line. That's why the Bucs likely will pass often once inside the red zone this year.
Although Byron Leftwich will start vs. Jacksonville on Saturday, McCown was the first signal caller to take reps in each session this morning. He also worked a lot with the first-team offense. It appears as though head coach Raheem Morris is trying to give McCown the best opportunity he can to make his case for the right to lead Tampa Bay into its Week 1 contest vs. Dallas. Right now the job is Leftwich's to lose.
McCown started the red zone session with a throw that was completed to Stroughter, but thrown behind the rookie receiver. Leftwich's first pass attempt sailed over Stevens' head and out of the end zone for an incompletion. McCown was also guilty of overthrowing one of his receivers in the end zone. His errant throw was intended for Urrutia.
From there, both quarterbacks improved. Leftwich completed a nice pass to wide receiver Maurice Stovall for a touchdown. Stovall, who turned in his best practice of camp thus far, beat cornerback Ronde Barber on the play. Leftwich came back with a beautiful touchdown pass to WR Brian Clark on a post.
McCown followed Leftwich's lead by throwing a perfect strike to Stovall, whom he hit in stride en route to the touchdown. On one of the final plays of the 7-on-7 red zone session, McCown hooked up with Stovall again, this time across the middle of the end zone for a score. Although his throw was good, Stovall's catch was even better. He managed to haul in the pass despite slipping and falling on his back in the end zone. The play rivaled some of the miraculous catches Winslow has made in camp.
From there, Tampa Bay conducted an 11-on-11 team drill. The Bucs did not run any scout team in preparation for their upcoming game vs. the Jaguars, but this drill did feature crowd noise being blasted out of the speakers on the field.
McCown started the drill with a pass attempt, but his throw to Stevens near the sideline fell incomplete after it was defended by S Sabby Piscitelli.
On the ensuing play, pass protection from the first-team offensive line, which was playing with Sean Mahan at center instead of Jeff Faine, who is believed to be healthy, broke down. That led to McCown being sacked by defensive tackle Chris Hovan.
With the Bucs facing a third-and-8 situation, McCown dropped back to throw and found Stovall on a crossing route. It did not appear Stovall picked up the first down before being chased out of bounds, but Morris decided to have the offense run another third-and-8 play.
McCown stepped up big on the play, hanging in the pocket and throwing a perfect strike to Urrutia across the middle of the field. However, Urrutia failed to bring in the pass for the reception, instead allowing the ball to bounce off his hands and into the air, where safety C.J. Byrd picked off the ball and had a nice return on the play. McCown was visibly upset with Urrutia and gave him the business while they left the field together.
In the team scrimmage portion of practice, Leftwich's first pass was way off the mark to Urrutia. Defensive back Marshall McDuffie had close coverage and the ball sailed way over head. On the same play Black rushed from end and was put down in the turf hard by Alabi.
Leftwich completed a dump off pass to Williams for about a five-yard gain before linebackers Koutouvides and Hayes met the running back. A draw to Williams on the next play went nowhere as Black looped around his blocker, and had Williams stopped at the line of scrimmage. Leftwich had his next pass broken up by Piscitelli. The throw went to tight end Ryan Purvis and the third-year safety slapped the ball out of Purvis' hands. It looked pretty close to being a fumble.
The only completion of the series went to Stroughter. Cornerback Ronde Barber came a few moments after Stroughter had turned up field for a nice gain. Stroughter ran a crossing route in the middle of the field and was wide open. On the play defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson had jumped offsides.
Quarterback Josh Freeman got two reps in the 11-on-11 session. The first play was a draw to Graham that went for seven or eight yards. The next play was a poorly underthrown pass to Urrutia. McDuffie had good coverage on Urrutia but the pass fell about five yards short and bounced towards the receiver and defensive back.
Fourth-string QB Josh Johnson continued to make the most of his limited reps in practice. He threw a nice pass across the middle of the field to Stroughter in between Nicholson and CB DeAngelo Willingham. Johnson had good zip on the nicely thrown ball for the 20-yard completion.
Three of the quarterbacks stayed after practice to get some extra work. McCown worked on scrambling and being pressured in pursuit. Quarterbacks coach Greg Olson chased the veteran quarterback, and assistant wide receivers coach Tim Berbenich hit McCown with a pad as he ran by. Johnson did some throwing, and Freeman worked on throwing check downs with Huggins.
The Buccaneers are scheduled to hold a walk-through Thursday afternoon. If their plans change and they hold a practice Pewter Report will file a Pewter Insider report.