-The big news of the day was obviously that it was defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh’s first practice with his new team. Suh worked with his fellow linemates in individual drills and was even thrown into the mix during situational scrimmage drills despite his limited time with the Bucs’ playbook. Mandatory mini-camp is still subject to Phase III rules, meaning there still isn’t contact. It’s hard to get a feel for any lineman when they aren’t allowed to make contact with the guys across the line, so there aren’t many things to be drawn from Suh’s first practice. That will have to wait for pads. But Suh was met with a thunderous ‘Suhhhhh!’ from the Season Pass Members that were in attendance for today’s practice. Thousands of Bucs Members flooded the stands to see the first practice of mini-camp on Tuesday morning and it provided a great energy in the indoor facility.
-Rookie wide receiver Scotty Miller connected on a deep ball all the way down the field. He beat the coverage using his speed because, duh, and was able to track the ball through the air to haul in the catch for a touchdown.
He wasn’t done on the day, either. To the delight of the Season Pass Members in the stands, Miller caught a beautiful back-shoulder fade route down the sideline closest to the bleachers. It was a great catch and even more beautiful throw by quarterback Jameis Winston, who seems to be connecting with Miller so far this offseason.
-The defensive backs were on one today breaking up passes and picking off balls. Early in practice after individual drills, cornerback Ryan Smith had a great sideline pass breakup after he jumped the receiver’s route. He made a great read and has indeed seemed to have taken the step forward that Head Coach Bruce Arians mentioned last week after the conclusion of OTAs.
-Rookie safety Mike Edwards nabbed one of those aforementioned interceptions after the ball was tipped high in the air over the middle of the field. Edwards came down and dove for it to come up with the grab. Coach Arians said after practice he thought the ball hit the ground.
“Get the challenge flag out there,” Edwards said. “I feel like I caught that, but we’ll see.”
I’m with you, Mike.
-Yet another rookie with an interception was cornerback Jamel Dean. Down the near sideline, Dean again got in front of his receiver and got the ball right in the gut. It wasn’t the only play he made on the day, either. If I had to give a Shutdown Corner of the Day (in no pads without contact allowed), I think Dean would have taken it after multiple pass breakups throughout the morning.
-Running back Andre Ellington had a nice catch in goal-line situation drills where he skimmed the goal line itself before extending the ball with both hands ahead of the defender on him to get the touchdown. He earned a ‘good catch, 32!’ from running backs coach Todd McNair following the play.
-A rookie wide receiver who caught some attention with his catches (get it?) on Tuesday was Demarkus Lodge, an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss. He grabbed a long one over the middle in team drills and then toward the end of practice broke free and took advantage of a blown coverage in red zone drills. He caught the wide-open touchdown in the back right corner of the end zone.
-Outside linebacker Pat O’Connor, who joined the team last year, spending the majority of the season on practice squad, had a pass breakup in seven-on-seven drills. He was out in coverage underneath and managed to jump up to get his hands on the ball. Seeing big men make plays on the ball will never get old for me.