Remember that feeling on the last day of school before summer break? How much energy you had that last day looking forward to having the summer off? Well, turns out that feeling exists in the NFL and it happens on the last day of mini-camp before the players break for a six-week summer vacation. Once they come back in July, it'll be training camp right into a grueling now-17 game schedule that will hopefully be extended well into February of next year.
All 89 rostered players were in attendance for the mandatory three-day period, where they stacked together a few great practices, coupled with meetings and previews of what's to come this season. The roster may have stayed relatively the same as far as the starters go, but the NFL is an ever-evolving, well-oiled machine and to be successful, you have to constantly adapt and improve. This past week was the first part of that.
Despite the practice being cut down to roughly four periods rather than the usual seven to eight, it was still very competitive in nature. The players were just flat out having fun with each other as they ran through limited individual drills and some all-22 work on the practice fields of AdventHealth Training Center.
View the top photos from the Bucs final day of mandatory mini-camp.
The day began for the offense with Tom Brady clapping it up yelling, "Let's go boys!" following a crossbar competition between the quarterbacks. Even tight end Cam Brate tried his hand at hitting the crossbar of the uprights from about the 10-yard line. He didn't quite hit it. But you know who did? Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen grabbed the ball next and launched his attempt which hit the crossbar with ease, causing his quarterbacks to absolutely lose their minds in celebration.
There were limited positional drills before the team went into some half-field work. It was a high-energy period with the offense and defense jawing back and forth at each other. Even Mr. Irrelevant himself, Grant Stuard, came up with an interception much to the excitement of his teammates.
Then came seven-on-seven where inside linebacker Lavonte David almost had a pick but he ended up tipping the ball enough so that it landed in safety Mike Edwards' hands. Teamwork makes the dream work, right?
There was a brief full-team period and one of the first plays resulted in an incompletion because outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul leapt up at the line of scrimmage and aggressively batted down the pass, smiling the entire time he did it.
Wide receiver Mike Evans made a great catch down the sideline after making an even better adjustment, coming back on his route a little bit to shake the defender and get the ball. He did a little LeBron James/basketball celebration following the play, acting like he was shooting a free throw before he jogged back to the huddle.
Cornerback Ross Cockrell had another interception, this time in the team drills, reading the quarterback's eyes the whole way and jumping in front of wide receiver Justin Watson to make the catch that would have likely ended in six for the defense.
Evans had another good catch down the sideline, this one for about 30 yards, which he then took for a few more yards down the field only to run into safety Antoine Winfield Jr. The two tried to juke one another and played a little game of tag before Evans just rolled on the ground as they both laughed.
It was an all-around great day as the players broke for the summer. There was even Reese's cheesecake and Key Lime Pie waiting for them inside as a little treat on top of their lunch. HAGS, everyone. See you for training camp.