Three weeks into a grueling training camp in the Florida heat, the team received a bit of a break on Thursday ahead of their preseason opener on Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 16th practice of training camp was only about half speed as a means of letting players rest up and prepare for their first full-speed, full-tackle game.
We also saw a lot of the younger players and rookies get more of the reps given that they'll likely play significant reps inside Raymond James Stadium this weekend. Head Coach Bruce Arians said following practice that quarterback Tom Brady will start the game but said his snap count is yet to be determined. Brady himself said he will play as much as Arians instructs him to, though a tropical storm threatening Florida this weekend could throw a wrench into plans.
"In the end, whatever the weather is both teams are going to play in it," said Brady. "B.A. (Bruce Arians) is going to make the call for whatever he wants us to do. I'm kind of always ready to go. I love playing football. I love competing. If he said, 'Hey, you're going to play the whole game,' I'll be ready to play the whole game. It's just kind of how I feel about what I need to do for my job and if he wants [me] to play, not play, five plays, 20 plays or whatever he wants to do, we'll be ready to go."
And in their last practice to get ready to go, here were some things that stood out.
View some of the photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
-In position group drills, outside linebackers coach Larry Foote reports that Jason Pierre-Paul won their get-off contest of the day. It's a drill where two outside linebackers line up as if on the line of scrimmage with the infamous ball on a stick and the goal is to get off the line the quickest. It's played knockout-style and it was Pierre-Paul that emerged victorious on Thursday.
-In the first team period, though it wasn't full speed, Brady had a great pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski, threading the needle between two defenders across the middle of the field.
-We saw a lot of different combinations of players on both offense and defense. For instance, rookie quarterback Kyle Trask received some reps with the first team offense, presumably as a means of getting him ready to play on Saturday.
-The first play of the red zone period saw Brady lob a long ball to wide receiver Mike Evans in the end zone.
-The second pass was again to Evans, this time on the opposite side of the field in which Evans caught the ball right before the goal line and then stuck his arm out across it with the ball in his hand to get the score.
-Quarterback Ryan Griffin connected with tight end Tanner Hudson for a touchdown and you may see that quite a bit on Saturday as we've seen in preseasons past.
-The first play of seven-on-seven drills also went to Evans. It was a long ball down the sideline from Brady and yeah, it was pretty.
-Later in the period, Gronkowski had another great catch in which he muscled the ball away from safety Mike Edwards, who had stuck with him in coverage the whole time.
-And now, Camp Cam: