-Training camp is officially in full swing with the pads coming on during Sunday’s practice for the first time. The team took it a bit further on Tuesday and included the first live-tackling period of camp. What does that mean? While contact is allowed when the players are in pads, they aren’t always tackling each other. You don’t want to risk injury by actually taking your teammates to the ground. But it’s a bit of a catch-22. How are you supposed to learn how to tackle (or take a hit) if you don’t practice? Head Coach Bruce Arians said that training camp would be physical, and by scripting a live-tackle period, he delivered. The Bucs won’t be doing that every practice but Tuesday wasn’t the last time.
“We will do it probably once next week and then get into the preseason games. We will have a little bit [of tackling] with the Dolphins (in joint practices) – some goal-line and short-yardage stuff,” Arians said.
-At the end of each practice, the final period varies a little. See, practices are structured by ‘periods’ that are meant to emphasize certain skills. In other words, there’s a method to the madness that you’re seeing on the field. Periods include red zone, where the team works on plays within the 20-yard-line. There are individual periods where each position group runs drills to work on specific skills. There are seven-on-seven periods meant to help the offense work on routes while still dealing with the secondary defenders – but not the pressure from the line.
On Monday, the Buccaneers’ last period of practice was unscripted, meaning that it was closer to a middle-of-the-game situation. Usually, the team will go into practice with a script of plays they want to run in order to work on certain concepts. Well, being unscripted, Monday’s practice was a test that Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich think his offense passed.
“The great thing about yesterday is I like the way we responded when we got off script,” Leftwich said. “When we got off script and we started playing real football, I liked how we responded.”
That’s not to say the defense didn’t get their plays in. Both linebackers Lavonte David and Devante Bond had a couple of great plays on the fly. Bond had a ‘sack’ and a pass breakup on consecutive plays and after a day where David was all over the place, he shined when left up to his own devices, laying down some great hits and breaking up passes in coverage as well.
For the defense, it’s more about what they need to work on versus what the offense presents. After all, they’re not going to be playing their teammates when it comes time for the regular season.
“We try to work on things every day,” Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles said. “We don’t throw the kitchen sink at them. Jameis [Winston] is a very sharp quarterback. He gives us our share of problems as well, believe me. He understands things and sees things that I’ve seen a lot of quarterbacks can’t do, but we try to get ready for the season and our install is such that we work on different things every day or a different disguise every day, trying to make everything look the same.”
-The Buccaneers hosted the largest women’s event at training camp with the Women of Red Evening at Training Camp on Thursday night. Over 1,500 women came out to see an exclusive practice with their favorite team. Before the players took the field, there were raffle prizes, informational stations set up and interactive booths that helped fans get more involved with the team they love. There was also a post-practice autograph session where I followed Phyllis, a Bucs fan in hopes of grabbing an autograph from her favorite player, Carl Nassib.
-The Bucs FANtasy Challenge players have been selected! Nine fans will be competing in a fantasy football league with Scott Smith, Casey Phillips and me. We had hundreds of submissions for the nine spots and we can’t thank you all enough for your participation already. All three of us ‘experts’ had a hand in picking the final nine, so for Chris D., Justin B. and Justin R., don’t let me down. But also don’t beat me. This is going to be fun.
-I got a chance to sit down with NBC Sports’ Peter King, who called the Bucs one of the most interesting teams in the league going into 2019. He shared his thoughts on Head Coach Bruce Arians, the Bucs’ defense and what national expectations seem to be for the Buccaneers ahead of this season. Check it out.
-ICYMI: Here are my takeaways from each day of camp so far all in one place: