Pictures from the Bucs' training camp practice on Tuesday with the Cleveland Browns.
Last Wednesday, after his team's offense struggled in a joint practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter apparently had some pointed words for his players. On Tuesday, with the Buccaneers back home from Jacksonville and playing host to the Cleveland Browns, Koetter had just a few words for his team…period.
"No juice, no juice," said Koetter after an intensely hot and humid two-hour workout at One Buccaneer Place. "No one wanted to practice today."
In Jacksonville, the Buccaneers' offense rebounded from a sluggish first day to perform very well in a second joint practice with the Jaguars. Koetter will have to hope that his team follows the same pattern on Wednesday when the Browns will be back for another get-together.
"We had balls tipped, we had poor throws and we had bad protection," said Koetter of Tuesday's missteps on offense. "Bad combination."
Of course, even a bad day can be good work, in a way, on the practice field. One of the causes of the Buccaneers' struggles on offense was a difficulty adjusting to Cleveland's 3-4 defensive alignment, and it was that challenge exactly that had Koetter and his staff eager to line up an extended date with the Browns.
"The offense struggled a little bit," said tight end Cameron Brate after practice. "Going against Cleveland, a 3-4 team, was a little bit different. We haven't really gone against that in camp so far. So it's really good work for us. Cardinals, Week Two – they're a very similar defense. We're going to watch the film, make some adjustments and hopefully be better tomorrow."
As visibly unhappy as Koetter was with Tuesday's practice, the good news is that the scoreboards were blank at the end of the day and the quarterbacks' jerseys were free of grass stains. As Brate noted, videotape of the action will provide good learning material, if not exactly a happy meeting room.
"Today [was] a good example of why we want to work against the 3-4," said Koetter. "I wouldn't want that to be a game and be our first exposure to a 3-4."
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Of course, as the Bucs' head coach pointed out, he only had a chance to see half of the morning's action, as he spent the two hours with his team's offense and let Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith run the other side against Cleveland's offense. Koetter will see his defense's performance during tape review and will likely be a bit more pleased, just as he was after reviewing that first practice in Jacksonville last week. In fact, Koetter will probably particularly like the clip of rookie cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who has just begun working with the first-team defense, picking off a Browns pass early in practice.
"Coach Smith said we did fine over there," said Koetter. "These joint practices, when I only get to see half of it, I'm not going to know the rest until I get in and watch it. Again, I'm only talking about one side of the ball. If I were to be on the other field, I might be over here with a big smile on my face right now, so you just have to take it with a grain of salt. We'll work it out and get back to work."
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, one of the team's emotional leaders when the defense is on the field, categorized his crew's performance as "okay." Tampa Bay's defense got a bit of a different test from the Cleveland offense, too, as the Browns ran some zone-read plays that put the quarterback in motion.
"It's very important because we've got Cam Newton coming up who's pretty much going to run the same type of offense," said McDonald of the zone-read challenge. "It's great to get a lot of work in early on what you're going to see during the season, especially with somebody who's in your conference, who's been running your conference. We're trying to get it down pat so we can go ahead and take their place.
"Basically, [it's] assignment adjustment. We still want to go hard, we still want to strike and we still want to attack, but for the most part our assignment is going to change a little bit as opposed to a quarterback that sits in the pocket and doesn't have a running threat about him. So for the most part, [it's] different rules, different assignments, so we had to adjust but not too much."