The Florida heat was showing off today as the Tennessee Titans came to town for joint practices. It may have been the hottest training camp day yet and the Titans certainly felt it. I saw at least one player toss his cookies during the course of the two-hour practice. Not only was the heat wearing guys down – so was the contact. Head Coach Bruce Arians had been talking about the physicality he was anticipating in these practices and the first one did not disappoint.
There were multiple one-on-one periods where we got to see different position groups battle it out. There were also full-team periods where we got to see each respective squad's first teams square off.
"Really, really good practices," Arians said. "You can't get anything better than going against another team, putting in all the situations, looking at young players, veteran players. No better team to do it against than Mike [Vrabel] and the Titans. I thought it was outstanding work. We'll grade the tape as far as who did what and who didn't, and I know one thing – we dropped way too many damn passes. We have to stop that."
Aside from the dropped passes, here are some highlights from Wednesday's practice:
View some of the photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice vs. Tennessee at the AdventHealth Training Center.
-The individual period was one of those instances where we got to see some one-on-one battles amongst the position groups. The Bucs' defensive line (complete with their outside backers) were tasked with going up against the Titans' offensive line. Other than Saturday's preseason opener, rookie Joe Tryon has known nothing else in the NFL but his own team and so here was another opportunity for the rookie to test his skills. Well, it wasn't much of a test. Tryon's incredible strength gave the Tennessee's O-line all they could handle. He handled Titans guard Ross Reynolds pretty easily on one rep, moving him at will in a lock-up drill.
-It wasn't the best day for the Buccaneer offense, more specifically, the skill players. No one seemed immune from drops on the day, though there were some highlights, anyway. Like a fortunate tip for running back Leonard Fournette in one-on-ones. Titans outside linebacker Bud. Dupree actually got a hand on the pass from quarterback Tom Brady but the tip ended up back in Fournette's hands anyway after a brief bobble. Fournette let out a little giggle after the play was over.
-On the other side of the field, the Bucs' o-line was getting work from the Titans' d-line but one guy standing his ground was center Ryan Jensen. I don't think I saw him get beat all day. You'll hear a lot about Jensen's 'nasty' streak if you ever listen to anyone breaking down his game and it was on full display Wednesday. He was handling Tennessee nose tackles like they were tight ends.
-Speaking of the Bucs' offensive line, they got rookie Robert Hainsey back into the mix on Wednesday. Hainsey had missed a few practices with injury but he was back and even snapping to Brady during seven-on-seven drills while Jensen was back handling Titans' defensive linemen in the later one-on-one period. It was good timing on Hainsey's part too because John Molchon, who had taken on the backup center role, missed a portion of practice with what looked like cramps.
-In that later one-on-one period while seven-on-seven was going on for the skill players, the trenchmen got another crack at it and remember how I had just said Jensen was handling the Tennessee defensive linemen? Well, I saw two consecutive reps where Jensen got Titans; Jeffery Simmons on the ground. It was impressive considering Simmons is a fantastic player.
-Brady struggled a bit connecting with his receivers on Wednesday, but leave it up to old faithful a.k.a. tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady got him on a slant to the sideline in seven-on-seven drills and things picked up a bit from there.
-I should mention that with two fields going simultaneously, I felt like I didn't have enough eyes for everywhere I wanted to look. This is by no means a complete list of everything that happened on Wednesday at practice so do with that what you will.
-By the time I got back to looking at the Bucs' offense in seven-on-seven, rookie quarterback Kyle Trask was up and threw a dart to fellow rookie Jaelon Darden. At first, I thought the pass was tipped or broken up but somehow, Darden came up with it and escaped upfield before even Titans defenders knew he had the ball. The young player has speed.
-More rookie action and it was Tryon again on the other field, this time blowing past Titans' offensive lineman David Quessenberry. Side note: that's a fun last name.
-The teams convened on one field for full-team situational drills. Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a pass batted down at the line by outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. Welcome to what Brady has been dealing with all camp, Tanny.
-A former Bucs' draft pick has come back to haunt them in the form of running back Jeremy McNichols. The team drafted him in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft and now he's developed into a pretty speedy back. I saw him break off a couple of runs where he looked very shifty in traffic.
-It was the Bucs' defense that ended Tannehill's first full-team series with a whistled-sack by the Bucs' defense. It looked to be Ndamukong Suh who would have gotten there first. And it wouldn't be the only time he was in Tannehill's face on the day.
-Later in the period, Brady aired one out for wide receiver Mike Evans who almost made a leaping grab if it weren't for Jackrabbit Jenkins, whose name is actually listed as such on the Titans' roster – I checked. Jenkins made a couple good plays on the day, we'll get to another in a second.
-As the Bucs were working in a red zone situation, Brady looked for Gronkowski again but this time it was Titans linebacker Jayon Brown who broke up the pass in the end zone. The series yielded no results for the Bucs' offense as the Tennessee defense stepped up.
-It didn't get immediately better for the Bucs' offense, and brings us to the other excellent play by Jenkins, as another pass intended for Gronkowski was tipped and then fell into the hands of Jenkins, who returned it for what would have likely actually been a pick-six.
-The good news is, it didn't get better for the Tennessee offense either as another play was whistled dead on a sack by the Bucs' defense – this one looking to be some combination of Vita Vea and Suh again.
-The Titans eventually came up empty too as safety Mike Edwards batted down a pass from Tannehill.
-Then came a goal line situation and Brady hit wide receiver Tyler Johnson on a low pass right at the goal line for the score.
-The next play, it was Brady to the back of the end zone for wide receiver Antonio Brown as he was come across the middle.
-The Bucs' offense would end up going two for three in goal line situations after the next play, a quick pass to running back Gio Bernard, fell incomplete in the end zone.
-The Titans' fared exactly the same. Tannehill's first pass was to wide receiver Josh Reynolds for a score, though Reynolds was hit immediately (and very hard) by safety Antoine Winfield Jr. The two players laughed it off and trotted back to their respective huddles. The next score was by Tannehill himself on a keeper and then his third try was blocked by none other than outside linebacker Shaq Barrett and fell incomplete.
-Quarterback Blaine Gabbert got to try his hand at the situation and immediately hit Johnson as well for a score. He went to Johnson on his second pass and it was a little iffy if Johnson actually broke the plane of the goal line, though he completed the pass. Then, Gabbert hit tight end Codey McElroy, who made a fantastic catch with a defender draped all over him.
-Kicker Ryan Succop was six for seven on kicks for the day.