Now it feels like training camp is officially here. The Buccaneers trotted out to the practice fields at AdventHealth Training Center Monday morning with one very big difference: they were in full pads.
It's the first time in 2020 Tampa Bay has been assembled in full gear. The addition gave way to more contact, which the players seemed to appreciate. Because they're still your teammates, there's still caution exercised and there wasn't a live tackling period quite yet – but there was a lot more back and forth between receivers and defensive backs, who were finally able to actually defend their pass-catching counterparts.
View some of the photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
See below for takeaways from the Bucs' first practice in pads:
- The first team period saw a long bomb over the middle to wide receiver Scotty Miller from quarterback Tom Brady that was an absolutely perfect ball. Miller had gotten behind the defenders and caught it in stride for an easy touchdown.
- Run plays got a little extra juice with contact allowed. Defensive linemen were yelling, linebackers and defensive backs coming in to play the run were energized. And the backs themselves were fighting through the line and finishing runs.
- Rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. stripped a receiver of the ball and forced a fumble. Not only that, he pivoted quickly and got back to the ball to fall on it in time for the defense.
- Brady hit wide receiver Mike Evans in stride over the middle in an extremely tight window during that offense vs. defense period. The heavy traffic didn't stop Evans from snatching the ball out of the air and turning upfield.
- Brady fired a long pass down the sideline which cornerback Carlton Davis broke up at the last second. It was nearly an interception and Davis expressed frustration at himself for not coming down with the ball.
- It didn't take long for the defensive backs to get their hands on a pass, though. It was rookie undrafted free agent Parnell Motley that got in front of his receiver to record the first interception of Brady in pads.
- Brady tossed a slant to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who just simply towers over defenders. It was an easy catch above his head. For the record, while there may be little to nothing most defensive backs can do to prevent Gronk from catching a ball like that, safety D'Cota Dixon was right there to 'knock' Gronk out of bounds had there been live tackling, which was a good sign. That, and thank goodness Gronk is a Buc and we don't actually have to defend him.
- Inside linebacker Devin White was hyping up his defense for seven-on-seven drills, "Here we go, here we go, here we go!"
- The tight ends saw a lot of action in the seven-on-seven period. It was completion after completion, which is what you want to see when there's no pressure to worry about in those drills.
- The seven-on-seven period ended with a good grab from Miller, who snatched it away from defenders in traffic. It looks like those extra 10 pounds Arians said Miller put on are paying off underneath and inside.
- Tight end Antony Auclair had one of the best grabs of the day as he leapt up in the end zone over two different defenders to come down with the touchdown. Who says he's just blocking tight end?
- While contact is allowed, there was no live tackling on Monday. It means running backs don't have to worry about being taken down, but they can be held up. Ronald Jones II had a great run where he broke free up the middle and took the ball all the way down the field.
- Cornerback Mazzi Wilkins got his hands on a pass from quarterback Ryan Griffin and knocked the ball right into Motley's hands for his second interception of the day.
- The Griffin to tight end Tanner Hudson connection is still alive. Griff threw a dart to Hudson in the end zone, who jumped up over two defenders to make the grab.
- The last play of the morning was a pass over the middle to tight end Cameron Brate that he went up and got, outmuscling multiple defenders to hang on to the ball.