Why do coaches and players do the specific things they do on the practice field? Saturday night's session will answer some of those questions
From a player's perspective, is (at best) a competition similar to playing a game or (at worst) a necessary evil. From a coach's perspective, practice is an indispensible opportunity to teach what needs to be taught.
From a fan's perspective, practice is…well, in the National Football League, practice is mostly out of the fans' view. In an effort to prepare game plans and specific offensive and defensive plays, teams conduct closed practices 90% of the year.
The exception, of course, is training camp. For three weeks, NFL teams throw the gates to their practice fields wide and allow any and all comers to watch. At that point, practice from a fan's perspective becomes…well, a lot of running around. A few exciting deep passes. A lot of horn blowing and groups moving from one field to another.
Yes, it's football, so most of what occurs on the field during practice is recognizable even to a casual fan. There's blocking (if the players are in pads) and passing and defensive linemen weaving through tackling dummies. It's just football with varying platoon sizes.
The thing is, for the players on the field and the coaches directing the action, every segment of practice has a name and its own language. There are differences from team to team, but much of the terminology is universal. Everybody runs a period called "7 on 7," which is really six on seven and is focused almost exclusively on passing. Almost every practice begins with a "Pat-n-Go" session, even before the stretching. When a player hears "Special Cat," he knows the team is about to practice some very specific game situation, such as nickel blitzing or goal-line plays.
On Saturday, August 1, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not only conduct an open practice in front of the fans, but they will also try to explain details like those above. On the first day of practice in the Buccaneers' 2009 training camp, the team will head over to Raymond James Stadium in the evening for the second round of its opening two-a-day. All interested fans will be allowed into the stadium free, just as they are allowed to watch the other 23 camp practices held at One Buccaneer Place.
In this case, however, the Buccaneers will use the advantages of Raymond James Stadium to pry open practice for those attending fans. Using the BucVision videoboards and live on-field interviews with coaches, the team will be explaining the structure and purpose of each practice period and highlighting special drills.
Stadium Gates C and D will open to admit fans at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday evening. The team will arrive at approximately 6:45 p.m. and the Pat-n-Go will start at 7:10. From there, the team will cycle through such periods as Indies, Group Install, 7 on 7 and Special Cat. If you want a better idea of what those terms mean, you'll want to attend that highly-anticipated night practice at Raymond James Stadium.
For more information on what to expect on Saturday evening, please watch our preview video here.
Camp Tix Available a Week Ahead
The first three days of training camp at One Buccaneer Place have been "sold out" through the One Buc Club here on Buccaneers.com. The practice tickets are actually free, but all available seats have been claimed by Club members.
Fans are encouraged to come out for the night practice at Raymond James on August 1 which does not require a ticket or one of the other future practices at One Buccaneer Place.
Each set of tickets will be available seven days prior to the practice date. For example, August 4th tickets will be available on July 28th, August 5th will be available on July 29th, etc. Tickets again will be made available exclusively through the One Buc Club on Buccaneers.com.
Training Camp is free and open to the public, though a ticket is required for attendance to training camp. It is highly encouraged that fans register for the free One Buc Club to receive advanced complimentary tickets and that they continually monitor Buccaneers.com for daily practice updates as the schedule is subject to change.
Free tickets will also be available on the day of each training camp practice, provided the day is not sold out due to advance orders through One Buc Club members. Only One Buc Club members will be eligible to download and print their complimentary Training Camp tickets in advance.
Inside the Numbers, White Book Style
The Official NFL Record and Fact Book — commonly referred to as the "White Book," in league circles — is nearly 700 pages of in-depth information on league history, the current 32 teams, records, the draft and much more. The 2009 edition arrived at team headquarters earlier this month.
As usual, the White Book is a treasure chest of interesting facts, some of them relating to the Buccaneers. Here are a few: