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Camp Conversations, Day 21

Posted Aug 14, 2013

Even on an afternoon in which the offense failed to match its strong showing from Tuesday, Josh Freeman and the Bucs got plenty of value out of sharing the practice field with the Patriots…Plus, Tom Brady’s early exit and more from Wednesday’s session

Late in Wednesday’s joint practice with the New England Patriots just outside Gillette Stadium, Josh Freeman took the field with the rest of the first-string offense, hoping to use a two-minute drill to put a strong finish on a somewhat uneven day.  The Bucs’ offense had put together a fine outing the previous day in the first shared work between the two teams, but on Wednesday it’s shots weren’t hitting nearly as often, even in that last two-minute effort.


Afterward, Freeman knew that was okay, and not only for the obvious reason that there is no scoreboard in practice, and no standings afterward.


"The first day we were able to make some plays, get some things going,” said the Bucs’ fifth-year quarterback.  “You go back, turn around overnight, come back and they're playing different – playing different leverages, playing different things, playing tighter on their man. You definitely learn a lot about yourselves, a lot about just getting off, fighting through. Towards the end we needed to get things going in the [two-minute] drill but were unable to do so. Dan [Orlovsky] did a good job of that when he got in, but overall, this is what it's about. When things get hot, when [you are] tired towards the end of the game, end of practice, you really have to lock in, stay sharp, and be able to do your job."


Furthermore, while there are no losses on the practice field, there can be significant gains afterward in the meeting rooms.  The Bucs and their coaching staff will study the tape from Wednesday’s workouts and look for answers as to why the offense wasn’t quite able to build on Tuesday’s success.


"The results weren't good, but let me look at it [on tape] and see where the breakdowns were,” said Head Coach Greg Schiano.  "It was good work. A lot of good situational stuff."


Actually, a team can suffer a significant loss on the practice field, in terms of the depth chart.  The Patriots feared that might be the case when starting quarterback Tom Brady left Wednesday’s practice early with an apparent knee injury.  Post-practice accounts pieced together the scene, as Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn reportedly bull-rushed Patriots tackle Nate Solder, knocking Solder to the ground and into his quarterback.  Fortunately, early indications are that Brady’s injury is not serious.


Meanwhile, Clayborn continued his own comeback from a practice-field groin injury that kept him out of last Thursday’s preseason opener against Baltimore.  Clayborn is expected to play on Friday night against the Patriots and he tuned up for his first game since last September with an active practice on Wednesday.


"I think he looks pretty good,” said Schiano of Clayborn.  “He’s not 100 percent yet, but he's getting off the ball and that's his game. He's got to get off and play hard and that's what he's been doing."


Schiano and several Buccaneers discussed other topics after practice on Wednesday, as well.




Head Coach Greg Schiano


On heightened injury concerns during joint practices:

"Well, Coach [Bill] Belichick and I, we stress to our teams,  ‘Let them throw the football.’ Rush the passer, but go by him. Don't get around him. I can't tell you [about Brady’s situation], because I didn't see what happened, but I'll look at it on tape. I hope he's okay."


On tackle Gabe Carimi practicing with the first-team offense for part of Wednesday’s practice:

"[We’re] just trying to make sure we get everybody enough reps. Everything is by design. There were no injuries or anything, it wasn't forced on us."


On the variety of lineups used during practice:

"We're constantly moving guys in and out. We're going to, as we think warrants, make moves to give guys more plays in practice. There's been some moves both ways, but we're trying to figure out what's the best mix right now.


On who will start on the defensive line:

"There are no starting jobs right now. Guys are competing on the defensive front. You've got Gerald McCoy, that's a guy who is definitely starting. If AC [defensive end Adrian Clayborn] can come back healthy, then he's definitely starting. After that it's wide open."


On the possibility of Da’Quan Bowers getting increased playing time:

"Yeah, as soon as we know that he can. He needs to play situational football, he needs to play a bunch of plays in a row, but not at the cost of [production].  So, it's a double-edged sword that we're trying to make sure we are on the right edge of."


On how the team is evaluating Bowers:

"Everything is being evaluated. I told you what I wanted and what I expected but I'm not going to make it happen if it isn't there. It's got to be there. We'll see.  He's got an opportunity Friday night and we've got another game next week, so we'll just keep playing it out and see how it goes."


On the performance of cornerback Anthony Gaitor:

"I thought he's actually practiced pretty well. I think he’s playing productive football, getting his hands on people.  He got a couple penalties, too, which you can’t have, so [it’s] give and take.”




QB Josh Freeman


On his anticipated playing time this week as compared to last week:

"It's going to be similar. Considering we play these guys, what, Week Three, Week Four, we play them pretty early in the season. [We are] looking to go out, get a few series [and a] couple things accomplished. The exact number of plays hasn't been specified."


On New England quarterback Tom Brady leaving practice and how conscious a quarterback has to be at all times:

"You have to be very aware, because those guys up front are battling, guys are throwing each other left and right, defenders are coming around - they might just get off a block and be right at your feet - so you just have to keep a general awareness when you get rid of the ball, maybe step back. It kind of comes naturally, because you understand that there are people at your legs. I didn't see what happened, but I heard somebody got thrown down into his legs. I hope he's doing alright."


On handling New England's defensive pressure at practice:

"Yeah, you know they mixed it up, mixed up fronts, brought a couple different pressures that they hadn't really shown, but it's something we're going to go back, evaluate this evening, and move forward."


On if seeing different defensive looks from intersquad practices is helpful:

"No question. Like I said, we play them early on in the season, so right now it's about us. It's a good competition, and the Patriots are definitely providing that, and just continuing to work, continuing to get better with our stuff."


On if the competition and intensity would be different if it was the regular season:

"No question. The level of game planning and the amount of strategic moves that are put in place for different coverages, different pressures, it's amped up by far in the regular season, but it's some good work to just stick to your rules, trust your rules, get hats on hats in protection, and make something happen down the field."




RB Mike James


On how valuable this work against the Patriots has been:

“Oh, it’s been very valuable.  Just to get out here and compete with another team, to compete with a great organization…they’ve got a lot of great guys on defense, a lot of good guys on offense and everybody is getting their work done.  Not only that, but special teams – they’ve got a lot of great players on special teams.  It’s just been very beneficial for us.”


On still gaining value on a day when things aren’t going as well:

“Oh, absolutely.  Even when everything is clicking, this is NFL football and there’s always something to grow from.  Me myself, there are always things I can go look at, understand and grow from.  If it’s a great day or a bad day, you always can grow from it.”


On if it was a good day for him:

“It was a solid day.  I don’t call them good or bad, I just call them solid.  I take them as they come.  I want to be the same guy on a great day, same guy on a bad day.  I’ll just call them solid days and grow from each one of them, no matter if it’s good or bad.”