Copyright 2009

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The Buccaneers came out in full pads for Friday’s morning practice before taking the afternoon off for a team-building activity, which will be going to the movies. Skies were overcast, but temperatures were still around 90 degrees and there was plenty of humidity in the air.

Bucs defensive lineman Greg Peterson (knee), tackle Jeremy Trueblood (back) and running back Clifton Smith (hamstring) suffered minor injuries during the workout. They are listed as day-to-day.

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) were held out of Thursday's practice. Wide receiver Antonio Bryant (back) and defensive linemen Louis Holmes (back) and Kyle Moore (shoulder) returned to practice today.

After warming up the defensive line worked on causing quarterback fumbles on strips from behind on a blocking dummy with arms, and a fake football attached to one of the arms. The defensive tackles spent time working on their hand punch coming off the ball, and getting their punch just below the pads. Linebacker Quincy Black got in some work with the ends, and defensive coordinator Jim Bates spent a good amount of time working with Black one-on-one.

The Bucs also worked him in standing up over the guards and rushing the passer. Later in practice Black put that to use in a two-on-two scrimmage between a defensive tackle and a defensive end against a guard and an offensive tackle. The defensive line used the session to work stunts on just about every rep. Overall the defensive line had the better session.

Black got in two reps lining up over the guard, and had two very noteworthy plays. The first rep saw Black getting blocked by offensive tackle Demar Dotson. At the conclusion of a gritty play, Dotson and Black got in a fight. Both players were swinging at each other repeatedly, and were connecting blows in the helmet and facemask, which was rather pointless. Teammates didn’t rush in to break it up initially, and Black and Dotson got in some good shots at each other before defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson finally broke up the fight.

“It was just a physical play,” said Dotson. “At the end of the play we had some extra physical stuff after the play. We were both just in the zone, and we’re both just trying to get better. It wasn’t anything. We’re totally fine, just a brotherly scrap.”

On the next rep, Black and defensive end Gaines Adams got the win over Marc Dile and Dotson. Black stood up over Dile to start the snap and he used his speed to juke his way to the marker in an instant.

Adams and defensive end Stylez G. White had a great showing going against guard Jeremy Zuttah and tackle Donald Penn. White would start the snap at defensive tackle, but Adams would cross in front of him to engage the guard with White coming around behind him. White got to the marker coming around with Penn missing on the switch. In the second rep, both Adams and White got to the marker by getting some leverage and lean from a stunt and pushed to the marker.

Penn had a false start or hold on the next snap and had to run a punishment lap around the football field. He ran it a pace that was slower than walking, but was pumping his arms to give the appearance of a jog, which was quite comical. It was definitely a veteran move by Penn.

The starting right side of the offensive line had a better showing than the left side. Guard Davin Joseph and Trueblood held their ground on two tries against defensive tackle Ryan Sims and defensive end Kyle Moore. On one stunt, Joseph put Moore to the ground hard, and finished the block by getting on top of Moore to keep him from getting up.

During individual drills, quarterback Josh Johnson was used in the running back drills to do handoffs, while the other three QBs were throwing to receivers on the other end of the field. It is clear that Johnson is the odd man out among the quarterbacks, even though he got more snaps today in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. That’s a shame because he played pretty well when given the opportunity today.

New Buccaneers wide receiver Mario Urrutia made his presence felt just by showing up. At 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, Urrutia is an impressive specimen that makes Maurice Stovall look undersized. Urrutia doesn’t have the best hands, evidenced by a dropped pass from Josh Freeman during the individual session, but there is no doubting his size. Bucs general manager Mark Dominik was disappointed that he had to release a similar-sized receiver in Anthony Mix during the offseason, but he found a Mix clone in Urrutia, who was a big-play machine at Louisville.

The main point of emphasis was working on the two-minute drill today on offense and defense, and that was what was discussed at length during the offensive and defensive install sessions. Luke McCown spent the day working with the starting line and the number two receivers, tight ends and backs, and went up against the starting defense. Byron Leftwich was working with the second-string line and had the number one skill position players today as he battled the second-string defense today.

The second-string offensive line consisted of James Lee at left tackle, Julius Wilson at left guard, Rob Bruggeman at center, Marc Dile at right guard and Anthony Alabi at right tackle.

The Bucs quarterbacks spent a lot of time working in the red zone and inside the 10-yard line Friday morning. Tampa Bay ran several screen passes to running backs and even had a tight end screen with the pass going to Kellen Winslow.

During the 1-on-1 period from 15 yards out, Johnson was allowed to throw with McCown and Leftwich while Freeman was on the far end of the field working with the running game with the offensive line and backs against the defensive line. Johnson threw a nice slant to Stovall, who made the catch in front of cornerback Aqib Talib.

The second-year quarterback zipped a pass into Sammie Stroughter, who was defended by cornerback E.J. Biggers on the play. Then he hit Urrutia for a touchdown on a beautiful fade pass over safety Tanard Jackson.

Johnson put the ball on the money in front of Dexter Jackson, who used a great swim and rip move to physically beat Arrington off the line to haul in the pass. On his next throw, Johnson put the ball right on the money to Carter in the end zone, but Biggers came over at the last minute and broke up the fade pass.

Leftwich’s pass to Antonio Bryant in the end zone was deflected by cornerback Ronde Barber. Leftwich did have a nice throw to Brian Clark, who beat Elbert Mack on an out. Leftwich was then the victim of a dropped pass by Dexter Jackson, who had beated Torrie Cox in coverage.

Leftwich overthrew Stovall in the end zone with Talib in coverage and then did the same thing to Cortez Hankton with Mack in coverage. Leftwich’s best came on his last throw, zipping the ball into Stroughter, who made a nice adjustment to the ball in front of safety C.J. Byrd.

McCown hit Hankton on a 10-yard out in front of cornerback Kyle Arrington, who has failed to make a real impact in camp after a successful round of OTAs this offseason. McCown overthew Carter in the end zone with Marshall McDuffie in coverage and couldn’t find Bryant, who was blanketed by Barber on his next pass.

McCown hit Stovall for a touchdown pass after he made a great release from safety Sabby Piscitelli. McCown’s second touchdown strike happened on the next play when he found Clark in the end zone for a score against DeAngelo Willingham.

Then the team moved the ball to the 5-yard line and Freeman replaced Johnson in the lineup for 1-on-1’s. Freeman’s best pass is easily the quick slant. It comes out of his hand quickly, effortlessly and on target virtually every time. His first pass was a slant that hit Stroughter for a touchdown in front of Biggers.

Freeman’s second pass was a dart to Carter on the right sidelines for a touchdown. Willingham tried to jam Carter and was successful initially, but didn’t stay with it long enough and Carter was able to fight through it to score a touchdown.

Freeman’s third attempt at a touchdown was thwarted when Talib broke up a fade pass intended for tight end Kellen Winslow in the right corner of the end zone. His next pass to Hankton was overthrown as Arrington had good coverage.

McCown’s pass to Stovall was overthrown with Willingham in coverage. His next pass to Winslow was incomplete as Arrington had good coverage.

McCown started to heat up as his third pass was a perfectly thrown ball to Bryant, who ran a great flag route to the left corner of the end zone and caught a touchdown in front of Mack.

“Some of them you can’t do nothing about, E-Mack,” said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris, who watched the entire 7-on-7 period. “That was one of those plays were you can’t doing about it.”

McCown then zipped a pass to Stovall, who beat Byrd on an out pattern.

During the 7-on-7 period, Julius Wilson was used as the center with all four quarterbacks participating and rotating in and out.

McCown threw high to Winslow in the end zone in between Piscitelli and linebacker Quincy Black, but the tight end couldn’t bring the pass down. McCown’s next play led him to roll out to his right and hit Clark in front of Talib after he hesitated too long and missed tight end Jerramy Stevens, who flashed open across the middle.

Leftwich threw a strike to Dexter Jackson, but he kind of showed some alligator arms and dropped the pass with Mack in tight coverage. His next throw was to Stevens in the end zone, but linebacker Geno Hayes jumped up and broke up the pass for a big stop.

Tight end Jason Pociask had a rough practice with a false start before dropping a pass from Freeman. Freeman then hit Stroughter with a slant across the middle in the end zone and the rookie receiver took a wicked pop from safety Donte Nicholson, but still hung on to the ball.

Freeman’s third pass found Stevens on a nice out route near the goal line, but his next throw to the big tight end was broken up in the end zone by Piscitelli, who also laid a big hit into Stovall’s back to break up another potential Freeman touchdown.

Freeman ended the drill on a high note with a touchdown pass to Winslow in between Hayes and Tanard Jackson.

Johnson only got two reps in 7-on-7, with Hayes breaking up a touchdown pass to Stevens across the middle on the first throw. Johnson’s second pass hit pay dirt as Stroughter scored a touchdown on a slant behind linebacker Rod Wilson.

In the 11-on-11 drills, each of the four quarterbacks took a turn with a drive down the field starting at their own 30-yard line and with 1:35 on the game clock. Freeman went first. The rookie signal caller was throwing the ball high consistently on the drive and had tunnel vision on the right side of the field while ignoring the backside of each play to the left. Freeman’s first pass was slightly beyond tight end Pociask, who tried to haul it in with an out-stretched hand.

Freeman threw his next two passes to Pociask. The first went for a first down after Pociask got open against linebacker Adam Hayward. The next attempt was dropped by Pociask and fell incomplete.

Freeman shifted focus and started to connect with Carter. The first completion went for eight yards on an out pattern, and they hooked up again in the middle of the field for nice gain. Freeman spiked the ball on the next down to stop the clock.

Freeman was too high on a slant to Urrutia, and had a scramble called back due to penalty. Wide receiver Sammie Stroughter caught a nice pass from Freeman for a 12-yard gain or so to the 27-yard line. Freeman’s drive ended there with 0:04 seconds left on the clock and it being fourth down.

Leftwich was up next and was working with the second-string offensive line, some first-team skill position players and was operating against the second-team defense. His first pass was a screen to Earnest Graham that was diagnosed well and stopped for little gain. Leftwich’s next pass was a beautiful throw down the right sideline where Hankton made a spectacular, diving, one-handed catch with Arrington in tight coverage. The play picked up 20 yards and moved the chains.

Leftwich’s next throw was a short pass to Bryant, who was trying to run out of bounds but was tackled hard by three Bucs defenders, including Wilson, who really smacked Bryant good. Undeterred, Bryant got revenge on the next play, catching a beautiful 35-yard touchdown strike down the left sidelines with Biggers trailing in coverage. The Bucs scored with 45 seconds left on the game clock. After the play, Bryant and his enthusiastic head coach leaped up in the air and celebrated in the end zone.

After the score, McCown took his turn with the starting offensive line and some backup skill position players and squared off against the first-team defense. McCown was stymied by two penalties on the drive in the two-minute drill, including a false start and a holding penalty, but still didn’t make many plays.

The drive started with a run by Clifton Smith to the right side that went nowhere, followed by a scramble by McCown after he couldn’t locate any open receivers. After a holding play on the scramble set the Bucs up with second-and-20, McCown hit Stevens with a great pass on a crossing route in front of linebacker Jermaine Phillips, who was trailing in coverage. Stevens picked up close to 15 yards before getting out of bounds on the right sidelines. In what looked like the identical play on the following snap, Stevens moved the chains on third down by catching a similar crossing pass in front of Phillips to get out of bounds with 55 seconds left near mid-field.

McCown’s screen pass to Kareem Huggins was overthrown on first-and-10. After a false start moved the offense back five yards, McCown threw an incompletion after not finding an open receiver. On third-and-15, Stevens dropped what would have been a 12-yard completion as McCown’s pass hit him right in the hands. Mack nearly had an interception off the deflection, but the officials ruled that he trapped the ball as he dove for it on the ground.

On fourth-and-15, McCown was forced to roll to his right and throw into a pass to Stovall into coverage. The pass was picked off by Talib to end McCown’s series.

Johnson took the final drive, and only had two plays. On the first play, Johnson scrambled and threw incomplete along the sideline. But the next play was a boon for Johnson. Urrutia ran a slant against Biggers, hiting him with a perfectly thrown 10-yard pass. Biggers dove to knock the pass away but came up short and was on the ground. Urrutia had nobody between him and the end zone and he raced two defensive backs downfield for an impressive 70-yard touchdown.

In the final scrimmage, the Bucs practiced red zone offense and defense. On the first play, center Sean Mahan almost snapped the ball over the head of McCown. It threw the timing of the play off and Graham had to settle for no gain.

Leftwich’s first rep was a near-disaster for the offense. He spotted Bryant running a slant towards the back of the end zone and fired the ball right into the hands of Barber. Barber only had to jump slightly to grab the ball, but he dropped the interception. The veteran was very angry with himself after that play. Leftwich did come back to connect on a slant to Winslow, who had gotten a step on Piscitelli for a good gain.

Freeman took the next rep and threw a perfect pass on a touchdown strike to Stevens, who had beaten Piscitelli. The big tight end slam-dunked the football over the goal posts. Freeman couldn’t get the offense lined up properly on the next play and he had to re-huddle the offense.

“Huddle ‘em up, Free!” yelled Morris.

The next pass that Freeman threw should also have been a touchdown. He hit Winslow on an out pattern. Winslow caught the pass backpedaling towards the sideline at the 1-yard line but went out of bounds after being pursued by Willingham. Winslow had three steps or so to reach the ball across the goal line but did not.

“Hey, Deuce,” yelled Morris at Winslow. “Get your ass in the end zone!”

Winslow nodded and jogged back to the huddle. The next play should have been another touchdown to Winslow, but Johnson’s pass was thrown too late. The defense was not set up correctly, and Winslow was wide open. Johnson lofted the ball and Hayes flew over and broke up the pass. Not only did Hayes break it up, but it was almost intercepted on a rebound. If Johnson had fired a hard pass to Winslow it would’ve been an easy touchdown.

Freeman got two more reps to close out the practice. He hit Hankton for an easy touchdown. It looked like the defense was confused because Mack let Hankton go and stayed at a spot like he was playing zone and was expecting some help from somewhere else.

Freeman tried to throw a jump ball to Stovall, but the pass was too high and went out of the end zone. Stovall could have been called for a push off on the play.

With a more extended look at Freeman and Johnson on Friday, both young quarterbacks played quite well on Friday. Actually, each quarterback had their moments in 1-on-1’s, 7-on-7’s and 11-on-11’s to end the first week of training camp practice. None of them played poorly, and the argument could be made that Johnson really shined.

Because the starting job will still come down to either Leftwich or McCown, Friday’s grade has to go to one of these two instead of Freeman or Johnson. Leftwich’s 11-on-11 session was superior to that of McCown and by virtue of his performance in the pressure-packed two-minute drill, he gets the nod today.

Leftwich 5, McCown 2

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