Saturday morning brought a different energy to Buccaneers training camp as we got our first taste of full speed. The coaching staff built in a live-tackling period for the very end of practice, which also included goal line work. It's a situation that's a favorite of Head Coach Bruce Arians because of the energy it ends up bringing.
This morning's practice did not disappoint.
It had been a 'chippy' morning already, with offensive and defensive players entering the period of camp where they're tired of hitting each other, as Arians puts it. But up until this point, though contact has been allowed, it was never full speed. Judging from the buzzing not only from the crowd, but the players themselves, they had been itching for a live tackle period and will now get an off day on Sunday to recover.
Here are a few more things that stood out from Saturday morning:
-The best drills in pads are one-on-ones and the Bucs did an entire period of positional battles. On one field were the wide receivers and cornerbacks. Herb Miller recorded a nice pass breakup on a downfield pass intended for Scotty Miller. It was as the defensive linemen were switching fields and they watched the whole thing with his teammates shouting, "I see you, Herb!" after the play.
-Wide receiver Mike Evans absolutely snatched a ball away from cornerback Carlton Davis even though Davis was all over him.
-Caught a rep with both outside linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul and Joe Tryon going against three offensive linemen. Let's just put it this way – if both of those guys are coming, you may as well just get out of the way while you can. 1pn1s herb pass breakup linemen Called over i see you herb on Scotty
-In 11-on-11 drills, quarterback Tom Brady hit tight end O.J. Howard on a long slant as Howard got behind his defender. The 35-40-yard pass may have been the longest pass play we've seen to Howard yet and the crowd in the stands loved it.
-Wide receiver Jaydon Mickens caught a swing pass in the backfield but was immediately met by two defenders, including rookie inside linebacker K.J. Britt, who tried ripping the ball out immediately. Mickens even exchanged some words with defensive tackle Rakeem Nuñez-Roches, who was in on the stop, and let's just say there's quite a size difference there that makes it less than advantageous for Mickens to poke the bear.
-Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski on a fan-favorite slant over the middle. The safety on Gronkowski didn't look to be playing tight enough but it's hard to do on a guy that size.
-Wide receiver Scotty Miller is continuing his focus on contested catches, leaping up over the middle of the field to grab a pass in traffic. He was immediately met by safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who helped Miller back up after knocking him out of the air.
View some of the photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
-In the red zone period, Brady had a beautiful pass to the back corner of the end zone where wide receiver Mike Evans was waiting for the score. He made the grab easy and the crowd went wild, having a front row seat for the whole thing.
-Quarterback Blaine Gabbert had a great pass to tight end Tanner Hudson who stretched out to make the grab but was able to stay on his feet and continue across the goal line for the score.
-Brady got the better of the defense on a play action throw to Evans on a quick slant. The defense bit on the run and Evans was open for the score.
-Tryon spoke earlier this about his liking for defending the run, not just getting after the passer, and he showed it as he met the running back behind the line of scrimmage for a tackle for loss.
-Kicker Ryan Succop was six-for-seven on field goal tries during the kicking period. His only miss wasn't a miss at all but a blocked kick by cornerback Jamel Dean, who showed his value on special teams with that play today.
-Quarterback Ryan Griffin ripped a long pass intended for rookie Jaelon Darden but it was broken up downfield as cornerback Carlton Davis came in with safety Ross Cockrell. Davis knocked the ball away as Cockrell knocked into Darden.
-The last period of the day marked the first live-tackling period of training camp. The first play, it was Davis again, this time playing the run, who brought down running back Leonard Fournette hard at the line. Fournette was a little fired up after that, which marked the start of a high-intensity period.
-Running back Giovani Bernard seemed to take that personally on the next play as he nabbed a short pass and then fought his way through multiple tackles to get a first down, despite inside linebacker Devin White making first contact – and hard. The crowd was yelling and Bernard even had the defensive coaches impressed.
-The live tackling period then moved to the goal line where Fournette tried to jump the pile but the defense vehemently denied him with some shoving back and forth after the whistle.
-The next play, running back Ronald Jones tried this same thing but this time, jumped a bit higher and ended up flipping into the end zone. It was super impressive – and well, just see for yourself.
-The last play with the first-team offense was a touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski, who was somehow left wide open in the back of the end zone with all the pressure focused up front.
-Overall, the live period ended practice on a high-energy note before the players go into their off day tomorrow.