C Rob Bruggeman and QB Josh Freeman were two of the 18 rookies who returned to Bucs practice on Tuesday
Amid the seemingly endless rainstorm dousing the Bay area, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started another week of organized team activity days (OTAs) on Tuesday morning.
During the offseason, NFL teams are allotted 14 OTAs to schedule as they see fit. Teams can conduct full-scale — albeit non-contact — practices on OTA days, but they may not be mandatory. The Buccaneers chose to spread their 14 OTAs over a period of five consecutive weeks; Tuesday marked the beginning of the second of those five weeks.
The rain had temporarily ceased by the time the Bucs took the field at 10:15 a.m. ET, but it started again 30 minutes later. An intermittent drizzled turned into a steady, light mist by 11:00 a.m. but it did not knock the team off its practice schedule. The team was slated to run 10 periods on Tuesday, finishing at about 12:17 p.m. The schedule in total was no longer than what the Bucs did during last week's OTAs, but it was rearranged a bit, with a shorter 7-on-7 drill and one extra full-team period.
The practice fields were also a bit more crowded for the second week of OTAs, thanks to the much-anticipated return of the team's rookies. After the post-draft rookie mini-camp, the NFL newcomers were not allowed to report back to team headquarters until after May 16, due to a league rule that prohibits rookies from joining their new teams until their colleges have finished their academic years. This rule can keep some players away from their teams until June, if their college has a school year that extends later than most, but all 18 of the Bucs' rookies returned to the team Tuesday.
With those 18 on the field, the Bucs were able to gather 78 players for Tuesday's practice, not including two (running back Carnell Williams and wide receiver Maurice Stovall) who were on the premises but receiving treatment in the training room. Those 78 did include second-year cornerback Aqib Talib, who had twisted his ankle slightly last Wednesday but was back at full speed to begin this week of work.
After a pat-n-go session, a short walk-through for the defense and the necessary stretching, the players split up into individual position groups for some work on fundamentals. The receivers, for instance, ran a series of quick drills through a set of five low pads placed a few feet apart on the grass. The most strenuous was a drill in which the player was required to weave back and forth through the pads, facing forward the whole team and churning his feet in a shuffle between the pads. Wide Receivers Coach Richard Mann wanted the players to focus on moving their feet quickly and planting hard at the cuts without hopping. He also instructed them to keep their heads up as they moved through the gauntlet, rather than staring downward to get their footwork right.
Head Coach Raheem Morris mixed up the music selection a little bit to start the week, throwing some reggae into the mostly hip-hop playlist. The music will stop for the second half of practice as the players move into more complicated, full-team drills.
Buccaneers.com will provide a wrap-up of the day's OTA action later in the afternoon, in addition to another Buccaneers Insider report on the day's issues. For an early look at some of the pictures in today's practice gallery, please click here.