The 60-odd players at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rookie mini-camp, about half of whom were participating on tryout contracts, managed to put together two straight practices that pleased Head Coach Bruce Arians. That was good for all of the participants in the short run and, for a few in particular, in the long run as well.
The immediate gain to the mini-camp players was that Arians' satisfaction with the four hours of on-field work on Friday and Saturday prompted him to call off Sunday's practice. That also meant that some of those tryout players had already done enough to catch the coach's eye.
"It was such a good two days that I am going to cancel tomorrow," said Arians after a Saturday workout on a hot and sticky afternoon. "We are really pleased with what we saw, especially the draft choices. The guys that came in and there are a couple of guys that came in on tryouts that we are going to keep that I was very impressed with. I thought overall it was a great start. I can’t wait until Tuesday when I can get everybody out here and get both practices going."
The Buccaneers were only scheduled to work out for about an hour on Sunday morning as it was. And, as Arians' notes, the team will be back on the field on Tuesday for the start of Phase 3 of the offseason program, and that will finally get the rookies and the veterans together. That will be much more valuable work as the coaches continue to install their new systems and work out who fits best in which positions.
Still, the two mini-camp practices did have some value, particularly when it came to getting a feel for the speed and talents of the skill-position players, and for seeing who could quickly absorb a playbook.
"The DBs, the linebackers, quarterbacks, receivers, the running backs…a couple of them made some really nice cuts," said Arians. "For the big guys, its detrimental to put them out there. It’s not fair to them because they can’t use their physicality and that is how they play the game. For the rest of them, it’s a real good judge on how athletic they are, how smart they are, how fast they can learn and if they can maintain it from a walkthrough through a practice to the next day to the next day."
The rookie mini-camp tends to produce a couple roster additions every year, as a handful of the tryout players stand out. It sounds as if that will be the case again this year, though the team didn't announce any moves on Saturday. Arians seems particularly impressed with outside linebacker David Kenney, who showed great speed off the edge.
"He gets to come back Tuesday," said Arians. "When you get past the quarterback on just about every play, that catches everybody’s attention. Let’s see if he can do it against the next group."