Despite the often grueling nature of training camp, third-year K Martin Gramatica is eager to get it under way
The month of July is like the calm before the storm in the National Football League.
It is July 2, and you can just make out the sound of thunder in the distance. In exactly four weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will step on the field at the University of Tampa's Pepin-Rood Stadium at 8:30 a.m., ready to begin the first practice of Training Camp 2001. From that moment on, the season will be in full swing, with all the clamor and commotion an NFL campaign invariably brings.
So…four weeks. Is that an agonizingly long time to wait or the mere blink of an eye? Depends on your perspective.
Buccaneer fans probably view it as the former. The month of July will hold little team news beyond the expected signings of the Bucs' nine draft picks. The players, one would suspect, will view the time as far too short, as the grind of camp and its two-a-day practices in the stifling heat approaches (see full practice schedule below).
Or will they? In the case of at least one Buccaneer, anticipation outweighs dread. We played word association with Pro Bowl kicker Martin Gramatica and bounced 'training camp' off him in the Bucs' locker room on Monday, right after he finished a long workout session with the team's strength coaches. Gramatica's reaction?
"I'm just ready," he said. "This is probably the worst time of the year right now. You're working out real hard, but you don't have any games or even practices afterward. It will feel good to get back in it. The team looks good. I think we're motivated and we're ready to do something special this year. I'm ready to get started."
We should note, of course, that as a kicker Gramatica doesn't get quite the full effect of camp, in the same sense that a defensive lineman does running and knocking heads twice a day for two hours each. It's not uncommon for the bigger players to lose eight to 10 pounds in a single day of training camp. Understanding this and wanting to remain P.C., Gramatica admitted camp can be very tough.
"If I say I don't dread it, the guys will hate me," said the third-year kicker with a laugh. "It's tough for the kickers and punters, too. We kick a lot in camp. It's not easy, but I know it's not as hard as the guys that have to run all day. But it's work and I'm ready for it. I just want to get the games going, and you've got to get through camp before you get to the games, so let's get camp going."
That we will, in four short – or long, if you can't stand the wait – weeks. As usual, the Buccaneers' entire run of training camp practices, 26 in all, is open to the public at Pepin-Rood Stadium, which holds approximately 3,000 people.
The most common training camp day includes a morning practice beginning at 8:30 a.m. and an afternoon practice beginning at 3:30 p.m. The morning practices tend to be longer and more involved.
There are some notable deviations to that normal day, however. As has become an annual practice, two of the afternoon practices have been switched to the evening in order to accommodate more fans who wish to attend a workout. Both are full-scale practices lasting approximately two hours. The first is during the initial week of camp, on Wednesday, August 1, beginning at 7:30 p.m. A week later, that schedule will be repeated on Wednesday, August 8.
The most unusual stretch of camp will occur at the end of the second week, when the Bucs play host to the Miami Dolphins for two days of joint practices before the two teams square off in Raymond James Stadium on Monday, August 13 at 8:00 p.m. That Buccaneer preseason opener will be broadcast by ESPN.
The Bucs also practiced for two days with the Dolphins last summer, in a series of four somewhat emotionally-charged sessions in Orlando's Citrus Bowl in July. This time, local fans will have the action in their own backyard.
The Dolphins arrive in town on Friday, August 10 and the two teams will hold their first joint practice that afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. On Saturday, the Bucs and Dolphins will get together for two more joint sessions, one from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and again from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Again, these practices are open to the public and free of charge.
The table below lists the morning and afternoon/evening practice times for each training camp day from Monday, July 30 through Friday, August 17. Training camp breaks on that Friday following the 26th practice; for the remainder of the preseason and the regular season, practices will be held at One Buccaneer Place and will not be open to the public.
The columns labeled 'Type' indicate the basic content of each practice. Practices conducted in 'Pads' are generally full contact; 'Shells' indicates limited contact; practices in 'Shorts' have little or no contact; practices marked 'S.T.' refer to workouts that include only special teams work and may not require the presence of all players.
NOTE: Practices times are subject to change or cancellation without advanced notice, though every effort will be made to provide updated scheduling information.
|Day||Date||A.M Practice||Type||P.M. Practice||Type|
- Ending time for practice is approximate ** This practice will include a 'Mock Game' # Joint practices with Miami ^ Gameday, Miami at Tampa Bay, 8:00 p.m.
As usual, Buccaneers.com will be on the scene for each day and each practice of training camp, providing constant updates on the action. Look for practice wrap-ups, player features, injury updates, action photos, video segments and more.
And look for it soon! Training camp is just four weeks away. Don't blink.