There were a few differences in Tuesday's practice for the Buccaneers. After their first preseason game, the team had a late practice Monday indoors and then returned outside not in full pads but with the addition of referees to the field. It's in anticipation of joint practices with the Tennessee Titans this coming Wednesday and Thursday before the two teams play inside Raymond James Stadium for the Bucs' second preseason home game.
Head Coach Bruce Arians has been anticipating physical practices against the different colored jerseys, so the week of practice thus far hasn't been full speed or in pads. They'll put them back on tomorrow and Thursday as starters match up with starters on the practice field. Arians also said earlier this week that he doesn't anticipate said starters playing in the actual game this week. He's not trying to push players too hard in the preseason.
But just because Tuesday's practice didn't include pads, doesn't mean there weren't a few highlights – especially offensively.
See what stood out on Day 18 of Bucs' training camp practice.
View some of the photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
-Rookie wide receiver Jaelon Darden had a day. His first catch came on a long ball down the sideline from quarterback Blain Gabbert. But it wouldn't be his last. I didn't see Darden drop a pass all day despite being thrown quite a few deep balls. Darden caught another one from Gabbert that was thrown in an almost impossibly tight window as two defenders closed in on him. But the reception was seamless. Darden also made a great adjustment on a long slant from quarterback Tom Brady a couple periods into practice, turning around at the exact right time and then continuing upfield. It seems his timing is improving no matter which quarterback is throwing him the ball.
-In seven-on-seven drills, Brady hit tight end Codey McElroy, who was a star in Saturday's preseason opener, playing the second-most snaps of any of the skill positions. In the game, McElroy made an incredible catch on a two-point play from Kyle Trask and then in Tuesday's practice, McElroy was again called upon with Brady in what ended up being about a 20-yard catch along the sideline.
-In the same period, running back Leonard Fournette got to show off his pass-catching progress. With no one open downfield, Brady checked it down to Fournette over the middle but the ball was a little high. Still, Fournette was able to reach up with both hands and make the grab in traffic, which is exactly what you want to see out of a play like that.
-Fournette wasn't the only running back showing off his hands. Ronald Jones had one of the plays of the day, catching a long ball over his shoulder along the sideline from Brady. Jones had gotten behind the defense, who likely didn't account for Jones being much of a deep threat but he showed that he has that capability and then some as he completed the catch and ran the rest of the way into the end zone.
-Tight end Cam Brate continues to work his way back into practice, getting perhaps the most reps he's had this camp. Brady hit him over the middle in the seven-on-seven period and it seems the two have picked up their connection right where it left off last season.
-As a big of comic relief, every time rookie kicker Jose Borregales would attempt a field goal today, defensive tackle Vita Vea, part of the field goal blocking unit, would yell at Borregales right before he kicked. It didn't work and Borregales connected on all of his kicks.
-Brady placed a deep ball perfectly for wide receiver Chris Godwin. It was just a tad ahead of him and to Godwin's outside shoulder, where cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting had no shot of defending it. And man, was it pretty.
-Despite having both Murphy-Bunting and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. on him, Gronkowski caught another beautiful ball from Brady right over the middle. It was another tight-window throw that has become second nature for the pair over the years.
-The team reconvened for 11-on-11 drills towards the end of practice. There was a red zone period where Gabbert aired one out for wide receiver Scotty Miller in the end zone and Miller was able to hold on while placing two feet in bounds. It got the crowd into it as Miller casually trotted back around to the huddle.
-In situational 11-on-11 drills, Brady attempted what looked like a 40-yard pass over the middle and to the back of the end zone for tight end Rob Gronkowski. The problem is that Antoine Winfield Jr. was right there, going for the ball at the same time. The incidental contact was enough to disrupt Gronk's route and prevent the completion, saving a touchdown. It was likely payback for the earlier catch in seven-on-sevens.
-The mock simulation at the end was a game-winning field goal, which Borregales hit before promptly being lifted up by his teammates as if it was a real situation. It ended practice on a very good note.