Not even the unrelenting Florida sun and temperatures topping 90 degrees with an offensive amount of humidity could temper the energy during the second day of mandatory mini-camp practice. After a great first day on Tuesday, Wednesday picked right back up for the 9 a.m. practice with all 89 rostered players in attendance.
"We always talk about stacking really good practices together and you become a better football team," said Head Coach Bruce Arians. "I think [these] two days really [have] shown me where we're at and I really like where we're at – mentally, physically, execution, everything – both sides of the ball, and special teams. It all looks like it's progressing in the right direction."
It was a back and forth day for both sides of the ball. The defense, despite the fact that contact is still prohibited, managed to get some wins against the offense, while the offense had some success, especially when it came to a situational drill led by one quarterback Tom Brady.
View the top photos from the Bucs first day of mandatory mini-camp.
Here are some observations from Day Two of mandatory mini-camp:
-Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul dropped to cover wide receiver Mike Evans at one point in the first team period of practice, yes you read that right, and almost had him. He took him all the way down the sideline but Evans made the catch, because he's Mike Evans and contact isn't even allowed right now.
-Both Pierre-Paul and outside linebacker Shaq Barrett actually keep pestering Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote for more reps. Not only that, they want more reps in coverage, specifically.
-Cornerback Jamel Dean had not one but two near-interceptions in the span of a few plays. He got a playful earful from Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles both times for not making the catch. Dean did get the pass breakups, though.
-Running back Giovani Bernard isn't the only one showing off his pass-catching abilities this offseason. Leonard Fournette had a great catch on a slant that he caught in stride ahead of his defender as he continued his effort for some extra yards.
-The 'blitz' period was an effective one for the defense. Completions were few and far between for the Bucs' receivers thanks to the defense hurrying the quarterback and getting perceived pressure quickly.
-In the first play of the seven-on-seven period, it looked as though Evans had safety Antoine Winfield Jr. beat but then Winfield Jr. leapt up as the ball was thrown Evans' way to get the pass breakup. He may only be 5'9 but he plays a lot bigger.
-Inside linebacker Kevin Minter had a great pass breakup right in front of tight end Tanner Hudson, who he tracked across the formation the whole way during the seven-on-seven period.
-Free agent signing Curtis Riley made the play of the day for the defense in the same period as he leapt up in the end zone to get in front of Chris Godwin, coming down with the ball to get the interception. The timing and height he got on his jump were incredibly impressive.
-However, Evans returned the favor on the next play by catching a touchdown between two defenders in the end zone. The timing of the throw from Brady was absolutely perfect.
-It was then followed by another end-zone toss, this time to tight end Rob Gronkowski who reached over Minter to make the grab.
-Godwin was on the receiving end of one of Brady's more creative throws. With two defenders on him, Brady threw the ball low and just across the goal line, where Godwin crouched down in time for the ball to hit him right in the chest. He fell down in the end zone for the score and there was really nothing any defender could have done, even if they were allowed to make contact. Brady just puts the ball where only his receivers can get it.
-Wide receiver Travis Jonsen had a touchdown catch right in the back of the end zone, having to drag his feet to stay in bounds.
-Running back Ronald Jones had a great run after catching a short slant. He turned on the jets and he looks like he's gotten even faster from last year.
-Safety Mike Edwards had the second pick of the afternoon right over the middle, reading the play the whole way.
-Wide receiver Jaydon Mickens caught a ball over the middle where he laid out horizontally before the ball even got there but then made the catch and fell, outstretched, to the ground. It was a great display of body control for the fourth-year receiver.
-The last two team periods, all players came over to one field and the defense mixed in rookies with veterans as they subbed in and out of different packages against the offense. Even as the offense kept up with the traditional first-team, second-team, third-team, etc. the defense mixed in everyone.
-The day ended with situational drills, the first of which was a two-minute drill where the Bucs' offense needed a field goal to win the game. It ended in success as Brady engineered a drive that went the entire way down the field and ended with a play very reminiscent of a certain touchdown right before halftime of the NFC Championship in Green Bay. Brady hit wide receiver Scotty Miller down the left sideline right before he crossed the goal line for the nearly 50-yard touchdown. It was a drive that was almost stopped in its first set of downs after the Bucs' defense had backed the offense up to fourth-and-10 at one point. It was Godwin with the crucial conversion that continued the drive, because of course it was.
-The last period of practice was another situational drill where the Bucs had only 22 seconds on the clock, no timeouts and needed a touchdown. That was also successful for the first team as Brady connected with Evans for the over 20-yard score after Evans beat his defender to the end zone.