The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won't get any practices in before the start of training camp in 2020, but they're hoping they can get a little extra time on the field once they do.
During a videoconference on Thursday, Head Coach Bruce Arians speculated on a possible date of July 21 for his full team reconvening after the offseason program was essentially erased by the COVID-19 quarantine efforts. NFL training camps generally kick off approximately 15 days before a team's first preseason game, which in this case would have the Buccaneers opening closer to the end of July. Obviously, NFL teams and players are currently working in an unprecedented landscape, which may involve altered camp schedules, and which would likely have to be approved by the NFLPA as well. The Buccaneers do not have an official start date for camp yet but are obviously discussing some options.
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"From what I understand right now, players will not return until training camp," said Arians. "Our dates right now are July 21st. We may have a quarterback school earlier than that. … We've already canceled our inter-squad practices with the Titans and the Jaguars and we're just looking to get started. Hopefully we get some extra days, but that's still I think in the works. The league's trying to do everything it can to make sure the safety and health of players and the fans is taken care of."
The Buccaneers are scheduled to play Jacksonville and Tennessee in the second and third weeks of the preseason and the initial plan was for Tampa Bay to host a series of joint practices with both teams at the AdventHealth Training Center leading up to those contests. The Buccaneers have done similar things with both of those teams in the past and coaches tend to put more value on the midweek work than the actual games because they can script a variety of situations.
"I do hate that we lost those [joint] practices because I think we get more out of those practices than we do in games," said Arians. "But it is what is and everybody is in the same thing."
If the Buccaneers do start camp on July 21 they might also have a couple sub-groups of players in earlier than that.
"That's our date for this year, and if we wanted to start the quarterback school or rookie school, which we probably will have, we would probably bring those guys in the 15th," said Arians.
The Buccaneers have conducted a virtual offseason program using Zoom meetings but Arians knows that can't replicate on-field reps. He is particularly concerned about the lost time for rookies.
"Walking through and practicing is the best way to teach," said Arians. "So those are valuable reps missed. I don't know how we'll make them up. Hopefully we'll get some extra time in practice in camp; a few extra days would help. The Zoom meetings are one thing but we're missing 400 reps. Our rookies usually get 400 reps by now and they haven't gotten any. So I don't know how we're going to make that up, but we have to."