Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Bridge to Training Camp

The Bucs' mandatory mini-camp this week is governed by offseason non-contact rules and includes only two real days of work, but it will still end the 14-week offseason program in a way that prepares the team for the real thing

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LB Jamall Johnson and the Buccaneers plan to continue moving forward during mini-camp this week

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin an offseason-capping three-day mini-camp on Tuesday morning.

Sort of.

As Buccaneers.com first revealed last Thursday, the team's "three-day" camp is more like two days of work and one day of fun. Head Coach Raheem Morris has chosen to cancel the scheduled practices on Thursday and take the players on a private, team-building outing instead. That outing is not open to the press, but Buccaneers.com will report from the scene.

If anything, that will prompt the coaching staff to squeeze everything they can out of the two days the players will be working on the practice field and in the meeting rooms. There are two very full days planned, beginning with morning meetings, an a.m. practice focused on fundamentals of the game, an afternoon session with more game-specific drills and even more meetings thereafter.

Morris said the team, which he believes is ready for the start of training camp on July 31, will use the time to review the playbook and reinforce the basics.

"You have more time of the day with them," he said. "I'll have them in a little bit longer, I'll have them in the building more, we'll do more fundamentals, go back just to hit it before we go to training camp. And then once we go to training camp we'll have all the stuff we've talked about at the beginning, all our core beliefs, and we'll be ready to go."

The Buccaneers will practice at 10:25 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. on both days of mini-camp. The players will also have open locker room with the media, as they do during the season, and Morris and coordinators Jim Bates and Jeff Jagodzinski will address the media as well. All of that will also be covered on Buccaneers.com.

Though fairly brief, this week's mini-camp is mandatory, the only full-team compulsory days of the entire 14-week offseason program. That means that virtually every player on the 85-man roster will be on hand; the Buccaneers had very good attendance during voluntary OTA days, but are eager to see essentially the whole team intact this week.

"I think those guys are more anxious to get back, to be honest with you," said Morris. "Whatever their situation is when they're gone, nobody wants to be away from this place. Look around — everybody wants to be here. For whatever situation you're not here, to each his own. Most are private matters, and when they get here I'll be excited to see them. But like I told you guys before, it was great preparation for me, learning how to deal with guys not being there. I don't have to cry to you guys every week about who's hurt now. It doesn't matter. You just have to move on and get somebody else to stand up and do it, and be mentally tough enough to do it."

The mini-camp is still governed by the NFL's non-contact offseason rules, so the practices will still more closely resemble OTAs than training camp. The team won't put on pads and actually hit each other until August. In some sense, these practices may feel like just an extension of the OTAs to the players who have been at team headquarters day after day in May and June, but Morris can structure the days more like what he will do when the real thing begins.

"I don't think the intensity changes because they've been pretty intense," said Morris of mini-camp. "I think what changes is the fact that we're going to have them a little bit longer, it will be a little bit more detailed, you'll be able to keep them in the building.

It's kind of a warm-up for training camp. It's a get-used-to thing, what you're going to do with a double session, coming out twice. Like I did in the first camp, I want to go out and have a bunch of fundamental periods in the morning, end them with a little bit of team, go get some lunch in and then come back out and be ready to go."

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