Friday was the second two days of the Buccaneers' 'ramp-up' period and while the players weren't in pads, they were allowed 'spiders' and soft-shells, which is more than the 'protective shirts' they had been wearing up until this point.
It was also a full-speed practice that allowed the offense and defense to square off for the first time. Because of that, we got to see something that more closely resembled football as the team gears up for padded practices starting on Monday.
Here are the takeaways from Day Three:
- During some warm-up throws, the quarterbacks focused on ball placement, with quite a few passes coming at the back of the end zone. The receivers ranged from tight ends to running backs to assistant coaches. Quarterback Tom Bradyalmost exclusively calls tight end O.J. Howard his nickname of "Juice."
- Because the offense and defense finally got to go against one another, the defensive line practiced their formations and subpackages while the offense attempted to call out their checks and read what they were doing. Spoiler alert: Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles' defense still thrives on confusion.
- It was enough to get defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches pretty hyped all day long. He's a great energy guy talking trash and hyping up his defensive teammates.
- We got to see various formations and offensive sets today, too. The personnel groupings were all over the board as Brady and backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert commanded their respective huddles.
- Brady fired a dart to tight end Rob Gronkowski over the middle that no one was quite expecting. Made both the offense and defense go, "OOOOOHHH."
- The defense giveth and then taketh away. Immediately after that pass – we got the first interception of Brady. It was safety Mike Edwards that did the honors, making a great read and jumping a route just as Brady fired a pass off toward the sideline. Show of hands who got that one right (judging from Twitter – almost none of you did).
- Edwards wasn't done yet, almost nabbing one off Gabbert a couple plays later.
- There came a diving catch from tight end Cameron Brateas he managed to get his feet down in bounds as he was falling on the other side of the sideline. The pass came from Gabbert.
- Wide receiver Mike Evans is still making catches look easy, but what else is new? He's also still making himself available should Brady gets through his reads and not see anything open. Evans gets open.
- Despite it being his first experience with the Bucs' defense, Brady still has the calmest demeanor. He's very good at stepping up in the 'pocket' and being patient. I say 'pocket' because there is still no contact allowed so the defense can't put any real pressure on him quite yet.
- Rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. is looking anything but new already. He seems to know his assignments pretty well already in this constantly moving defense.
- Back to Brady and Gronk. The windows Brady can throw to Gronk in are TINY – defensive backs have to pull up and are almost colliding every time even in the limited defense they're allowed right now. It's wild.
- The team went through red zone situations that yielded some fun plays today. "Juice" got his hands on not one but two redzone touchdowns from Brady that earned him a, "Good job, Juice!"
View some of the photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
- Rookie right tackle Tristan Wirfs is living up to his athletic reputation and looks like he's moving well in run blocking – again not being able to take any actual contact from defenders.
- In the seven-on-seven period, there was a really great pass from Brady over the middle to Evans. He absolutely fooled the defense with wherever his head was turned and hit Evans.
- During the same period, Brady hit wide receiver Scotty Miller on a beautiful pass in stride.
- A few plays later, Brady lateraled to Miller and Miller absolutely TOOK OFF. The kids is fast, fast.
- Safety Jordan Whitehead nabbed the second interception of the day, this time off Gabbert. Whitehead found himself in the middle of the field and made the diving catch that earned the offense a little bit of a 'talking to' from Head Coach Bruce Arians.
- The third interception of the day came off a tipped pass that fell right into the hands of outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. I don't have to tell you how excited he was over that one.
- Brady fired off a long pass to wide receiver Chris Godwin that he used his crazy athleticism to go up and get, simulating what it would be like in tight coverage.
- A bomb came from Gabbert's arm all the way down the field and into the end zone. It was wide receiver Jaydon Mickens that came down with it.
- The day pretty much ended on a long corner pass to Miller after which Brady yelled, "GOOD JOB SCOOTER!"