1. Ready-made "wet-ball" practice
Last January, the Green Bay Packers were preparing to play the NFC Championship Game in Seattle. The forecast showed a chance of rain at Century Link Field – hardly surprising – and the Packers wanted to be ready for that possibility. And so, on the Friday before heading to the Pacific Northwest, Green Bay coaches pulled out the tried-and-true "wet-ball" drill.
READ: STANDOUTS FROM PRACTICE
Coaches for the skill-position players dunked footballs in a Gatorade jug full of water before firing passes at the men who would be trying to catch them on Sunday. A little added concentration was needed to get a grip on the soggy pigskins. Sometimes teams will soak footballs in barrels before letting the quarterbacks have them so that they can get used to getting the right grip.
Photos from the first training camp practice in pads at One Buccaneer Place.
Buccaneers coaches don't have to worry about barrels or Gatorade jugs; their wet-ball practice is built right in. In fact, the opening practice of camp was played in a steady rain, and it showed in some of the evening's passing accuracy; the Buccaneer quarterbacks looked sharper on Sunday when the rain held off during the team's second camp practice.
A few more naturally-occurring wet-ball drills and the Buccaneers will be very well-prepared for the real possibility of rainy games at Raymond James Stadium in September.
2. Massive savings on sunscreen
The training room at One Buccaneer Place is loaded with items that help players prepare for practice, avoid injury and recover from bumps and bruises. Players get ankles taped, relieve sore muscles in a cold tub and ride on rehab bikes.
And they even make sure to stay away from sunburn, a smart move given that sensitive skin would be a major problem when the real contact of training camp begins. The Buccaneers help out by loading up one table with a variety of sprays and creams meant to block harmful rays. Coaches and other football personnel, in particular, need this since they don't have helmets on and thus have more skin exposed.
Well, suffice it to say that the trainers won't need to run out to Walgreens for a new case of sunscreen any time soon. There has been no sun at training camp to this point, rendering all of those protective items moot. When the rain finally does stop (the rain is going to stop, right?), the Buccaneers will be ready for it, completely flush in sunscreen.
WATCH: HIGHLIGHTS FROM PRACTICE
3. No exposure to flooded roads
Those stranded cars we mentioned earlier? They're a common sight on the local news these days as flooded streets have become a significant issue throughout Tampa. They make for compelling footage, making thousands of other Bay area citizens thankful that their own cars are safely in the garage.
The latest deluge on Monday morning quickly flooded a number of streets in South Tampa during the morning commute, catching plenty of motorists by surprise. Even with police officers responding quickly to close some roads and re-route traffic, getting into or out of that part of town was a somewhat harrowing experience.
And that's something no Buccaneer players or coaches had to worry about. That's the advantage of spending 14 hours a day in the same building – you avoid such larger community problems as flooded streets. None of those stranded cars you're going to see on the news on Monday night will belong to Buccaneer players, and for that they can all be thankful.
4. Extra yardage on diving catches
A wet practice field may make it tougher to throw, catch, kick and cut, but it also makes it far easier to slide. You won't see any Buccaneer players fooling around like baseball players on the tarp during a rain delay, as that would surely draw the wrath of both coaches and (more importantly) groundskeepers. At some point, though, those slippery conditions have to become an advantage.
It's the wide receivers who are most likely to benefit. Imagine Mike Evans laying out to catch a deep ball and coming down on that slick turf. His momentum and the rain might turn that into an impromptu Slip'N Slide, and if he isn't touched before he hits the ground, Evans could slide another five or 10 yards! The Bucs want more YAC (that's yards after the catch, if you didn't know) in 2015, and while that will usually come from a player's feet, in this case it might come from his belly.
5. Slow-motion hair tosses abound
The Buccaneers deploy a handful of cameramen at every camp practice and they work to capture footage to present to fans here on Buccaneers.com, among other places. (Here's an example from Saturday. Here's another one.)
At various times, those action clips are rolled into highlight packages, which are a delight for Buccaneer fans everywhere. Those packages often contain what one might call "b-roll" shots mixed in with the action, maybe a coach discussing strategy with one of his students on the sideline or a player running around with his kids after practice. At some point, you'll get the obligatory, "sweaty player dumps water over his head" shot, which is made even better when said player has an abundance of hair.
The current Buccaneer roster has a handful of players with dreadlocks or hair flowing past their shoulders. Kenny Bell may have the most distinctive 'do with his large afro, but it lacks the one great advantage of a flowing main: You can't dramatically flip it back over your head when it gets wet.
Think of all the hair tosses that Buccaneer cameraman can capture in slow-motion these days. They don't even have to wait for the end of practice when all the players are dripping with sweat. From the moment practice begins, it's just one dramatic hair flip after another. And that's good video.
Oh, and the Buccaneers Cheerleaders haven't even visited camp yet. The only thing better than player wet hair flips is Cheerleader wet hair flips. Maybe the rain should keep up for a few more days after all.