A pair of joint practices with the Miami Dolphins will once again highlight training camp
One advantage to playing on Monday Night Football during the NFL season, if you're a player, is the rare opportunity to watch the rest of the league in action. If you're a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, going to training camp offers the same benefit.
As NFL training camp news coverage begins to heat up this week, Buccaneer players can kick back, soak in the reports and revel in one last week of rest.
Let's hope they enjoy it because, although the Buccaneers will be one of the last three teams to start camp when they report on Sunday, July 29, they'll soon be running through the same grueling two-a-days as their league brethren. Tampa Bay will hold its first training camp practice on the morning of Monday, July 30, and barely let up for the next three weeks.
Head Coach Tony Dungy, who consistently has made his team one of the last to come to camp since taking over the helm in 1996, believes he has allotted plenty of time to get through his agenda.
"We try to work backward on our schedule to see what we definitely need to get done," said Dungy. "We have such good participation in the spring with our offseason program, and we kind of put it that way to our guys. If we're here and we have good attendance, get a lot of things done, then we can knock a few days off of camp. That seems to be a good incentive to get them here in the offseason."
Dungy is also pleased with the relative health and fitness of the 80-plus players forming Tampa Bay's roster.
"We should be in good shape," he said. "(Head Trainer) Todd Toriscelli told me that (wide receiver) Reidel Anthony, who sprained his ankle late in the offseason program, is the only guy that he was a little worried about. Reidel's been running and hopefully he'll be ready to go, but he may be a little hindered when camp starts. But he's the only guy, so that's about as good as we can hope for."
Of course, not long after Dungy uttered those words, it was learned that starting quarterback Brad Johnson had suffered a minor cut on his left knee. Johnson will miss just a few days worth of practices, but the incident is a reminder that anything can happen. Thus, it behooves one to be prepared; if you wish to prepare for the 26th training camp in Buccaneers' history, read on.
TRAINING CAMP INFORMATION
University of Tampa Pepin-Rood Stadium 401 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL, 33603 Report Date: Sunday, July 29 Practice Schedule: Check www.buccaneers.com for daily updates and any changes to the practice schedule.
The 2001 preseason slate features two of Tampa Bay's four preseason opponents from a year ago and two newcomers. For the first time since Coach Tony Dungy's initial season in 1996, Tampa Bay will not face any of its preseason opponents during the regular season.
Tampa Bay will host the Miami Dolphins in its preseason opener on Monday, August 13 at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The contest marks the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the two squads will meet in the preseason. Tampa Bay then travels to Cleveland the following week for a matchup with the Browns on Saturday, August 18 at 8 p.m. The two teams last met during the 1999 preseason, with Tampa Bay posting a 30-3 victory in Tampa.
The Buccaneers return home to face the Patriots on Saturday, August 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the preseason home finale, their third consecutive preseason meeting with New England. The preseason slate wraps up on the road at Atlanta when the Buccaneers and Falcons battle on Friday, August 31 at the Georgia Dome at 7:30 p.m. The two clubs have not met in the preseason since 1997, but Tampa Bay has won regular season games against Atlanta in each of the last two seasons.
For the third consecutive summer, the Bucs will join the Miami Dolphins in a joint practice session. Last year, the two teams held two days of practices at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. In 1999, Tampa Bay paid a visit to the Dolphins' training facility in Davie before taking part in a scrimmage at the Orange Bowl.
This year's sessions are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, August 10-11, at the University of Tampa. The first practice will take place from 3-5 p.m. on Friday, August 10. The Bucs and Dolphins will then hold two joint workouts on Saturday, August 11: 9-11 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. All practices are open to the public.
Following the practices, the teams will battle on Monday night, August 13, at 8 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay's preseason opener. The game will be televised live nationally on ESPN.
The NFL's mandatory roster reductions will take place on Tuesday, August 28, after Tampa Bay's third preseason game. On that day, all NFL clubs will have to trim their rosters to 65 players. The final roster cuts will be on Sunday, September 2, when all clubs' rosters must be set at 53 players.
TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
The Buccaneers report to camp on Sunday, July 29. The first practice is the following morning at Pepin-Rood Stadium. All practices at the University of Tampa are open to the public. The squad breaks camp on Friday, August 17 before flying to Cleveland for its second preseason game. Practices resume on Monday, August 20 at One Buccaneer Place.
Here is the schedule for practices at UT:
|Day||Date||A.M Practice||Type||P.M. Practice||Type|
- Ending time for practice is approximate ** This practice will include a 'Mock Game' @ Buccaneers Family Day, practices closed to the public # Joint practices with Miami ^ Gameday, Miami at Tampa Bay, 8:00 p.m.
TOUGHEST HOME SCHEDULES
Tampa Bay has been one of the toughest home teams since the opening of Raymond James Stadium, and this season should test that outstanding record. The Buccaneers have the most difficult home schedule in the league in 2001, based on the winning percentage of its opponents last season. Tampa Bay's home opponents posted a 76-52 record in 2000 for a league-best winning percentage of .594.
|Team||Opps.' 2000 Record||Win Perc.|
Since RJS opened in 1998, Tampa Bay owns a 19-5 record in the regular season and also boasts one playoff victory during that span. That mark includes a club record-tying eight consecutive home victories from 1999 and 2000, with seven of those wins to close out the '99 regular season home slate.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Number of Pro Bowl players on the roster: 12 * Percentage of starters who have played in the Pro Bowl: 50% (12 of the 24 starters) * Number of consecutive sellouts at Raymond James Stadium: All 24 regular season games * Number of combined career sacks the starting defensive line has produced: 138.5 sacks * Height of the shortest Buccaneer player: Martin Gramatica - 5-8 * Height of the tallest Buccaneer player: George Hegamin - 6-7 * Number of combined career starts by Buccaneer quarterbacks heading into 2001: 89 starts * Number of combined career starts by Buccaneer quarterbacks heading into 2000: 17 starts * The most tenured Buccaneer: TE Dave Moore * The number of years he has been with the team - Ninth year with the team * Most consecutive games among active Buccaneers players - Moore (103)
NEW KIDS IN TOWN
Despite leading Tampa Bay to the playoffs in three of its last four seasons, easily the most successful run in franchise history, General Manager Rich McKay and Tony Dungy made a number of big splashes during the 2001 offseason. Billed as a Super Bowl favorite by many pundits, Tampa Bay added two Pro Bowl players via free agency - QB Brad Johnson and DE Simeon Rice - and claimed QB Ryan Leaf off waivers from the San Diego Chargers.
The Buccaneers' first major addition was landing arguably the biggest prize in the free agent market in Johnson. Entering his 10th NFL season, Johnson is one of the most accurate passers in NFL history, boasting a completion percentage of 61.8%. Johnson's completion percentage currently ranks first among all active NFL signal callers, and trails only Steve Young and Joe Montana. Johnson also owns a 32-18 career record as a starter in the regular season and has started in three playoff contests.
Four days prior to inking Johnson, Tampa Bay claimed QB Ryan Leaf off waivers from the Chargers. Leaf, who was the second player chosen overall in the 1998 NFL Draft, has played in 21 games with 18 starts in his first three NFL seasons.
Tampa Bay also added to its potent defensive line, signing Rice. Rice, who posted 51.5 sacks in five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, joins a defensive line that can boast four former first round draft selections - Marcus Jones (career-high 13 sacks), Anthony McFarland (6.5), DT Warren Sapp (club-record 16.5 sacks) and Rice.
In addition, there were a number of changes on the Buccaneers' coaching staff. Clyde Christensen was promoted to offensive coordinator this past January after spending the past two seasons as the Buccaneers' quarterbacks coach. Prior to that, Christensen served as the club's tight ends coach in his first three seasons with the Buccaneers. Under Christensen's direction, the Buccaneers will look to improve upon an offense that established single-season records in points scored (388) and touchdowns (43) in 2000, but still managed to finish 21st in the league in total offense.
Defensively, one of the NFL's most menacing defenses features three new coaches: Joe Barry (linebackers), Mike Tomlin (defensive backs) and Alan Williams (defensive assistant). Barry spent the 2000 season as the defensive quality control coach for the San Francisco 49ers, while Tomlin joined Tampa Bay after serving two seasons as the University of Cincinnati defensive backs coach. Alan Williams was named the Buccaneers' defensive assistant after Kevin O'Dea, who spent the past six seasons at the post, moved to the other side of the ball as the club's offensive assistant.
Veteran staffer Tim Ruskell, who spent the past 14 seasons in the team's scouting department, including the last nine as the director of college scouting, was named Tampa Bay's director of player personnel this past offseason. Ruskell replaces Jerry Angelo, who left to become the Chicago Bears' general manager.
Ruskell excelled in his prior post, assembling a roster with tremendous talent and depth. During Ruskell's tenure, the Buccaneers have had at least one player named to the Pro Bowl in each of the past five seasons from 1996-2000. Additionally, the Buccaneers 29 Pro Bowl selections since 1996 is tied for the most in the NFC and second-best in the NFL. Ruston Webster, who joined the Buccaneers in 1988, takes over Ruskell's duties as the club's director of college scouting.
BACK IN THE FOLD
A key ingredient to Tampa Bay's successful run over the past five campaigns has been the ability to re-sign their top free agents to long-term contracts. Since 1998, the Buccaneers have re-signed Pro Bowlers CB Donnie Abraham, FB Mike Alstott, LB Derrick Brooks, S John Lynch and DT Warren Sapp. The 2001 offseason followed the same theme as the Buccaneers signed three productive starters: CB Ronde Barber (97 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2000), LB Jamie Duncan (97 tackles and seven passes defensed) and T Jerry Wunsch, a solid run blocking lineman who has made 29 consecutive starts.
The old cliché "records are made to be broken" rings prophetic for a Buccaneers' club tabbed as one of the top teams in the National Football League. A number of Buccaneers will be climbing up the all-time charts in 2001.
- WR Karl Williams (1,393 career punt return yards) needs 164 yards to pass WR Danny Reece (1,556 yards from 1976-80) and become the club's all-time punt return yardage leader.
- WR Jacquez Green (658 career punt return yards) needs 169 yards to pass WR Willie Drewrey (826 yards from 1989-92) for third on the club's all-time punt return yardage list.
- WR Karl Williams (1,128 career kickoff return yards) needs 20 yards to pass RB/WR Bobby Joe Edmonds (1,147 yards in 1995) for seventh on the club's all-time kickoff return yardage list.
- CB Donnie Abraham (25 career interceptions) needs four interceptions to pass CB Mike Washington (28 interceptions from 1976-84) for second all-time on the club's interception list and five picks to pass S Cedric Brown (29 from 1976-84) as the club's all-time interception leader.
- S John Lynch (17 career interceptions) needs three interceptions to pass three players for fourth place on the club's all-time interceptions list.
- TE Dave Moore (130 career games with Tampa Bay) needs to play in three more regular season games to pass LB Richard Wood (132 games from 1976-84) for third on the club's all-time games played list.
- FB Mike Alstott (39 career touchdowns) needs eight TDs to pass RB James Wilder (46 touchdowns from 1981-89) and become the club's all-time leader in total touchdowns.
- RB Warrick Dunn (20 career touchdowns) and TE Dave Moore (20 career touchdowns) each need three TDs to pass RB Reggie Cobb (22 touchdowns from 1990-93) for eighth on the club's total touchdown list.
- FB Mike Alstott (860 career rushing attempts) needs 19 rushing attempts to pass RB Reggie Cobb (878 rushing attempts from 1990-93) for third all-time on the club's rushing attempts chart.
- FB Mike Alstott (30 career rushing touchdowns) needs eight rushing TDs to pass RB James Wilder (37 rushing touchdowns from 1981-89) and become the club's all-time rushing TDs leader.
- TE Dave Moore (20 career receiving touchdowns) needs four receiving TDs to pass WR Bruce Hill (23 receiving TDs from 1987-91) for fourth on the club's all-time receiving TDs list.
- WR Reidel Anthony (16 career receiving touchdowns) needs two receiving TDs to pass WR Gerald Carter (17 receiving touchdowns from 1981-87) for sixth on the club's all-time receiving TDs list.
- P Mark Royals (331 punts with Tampa Bay) needs 49 punts to pass P Frank Garcia (379 punts from 1983-87) to become the club's all-time leader in total punts.
- P Mark Royals (13,724 punting yards with Tampa Bay) needs 1,865 punting yards to pass P Frank Garcia (15,588 punting yards from 1983-87) to become the club's all-time leader in punt yardage.
- LB Derrick Brooks (942 career tackles) needs 87 tackles to pass LB Hardy Nickerson (1,028 tackles from 1993-99) to become the club's all-time tackles leader.
ON THE ATTACK
They finished among the league's Top 10 in overall defense for the fourth consecutive season in 2000, and went on to establish a team record for sacks (55), while tying a single-season record with five defensive touchdowns. Yet, the Buccaneers' defensive unit deemed last season's performance a disappointment.
"A lot of people would be happy with our performance," said Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin. "For this group, that isn't good enough. The bar has been raised around here. Now we have to get back to where we were prior to last season. We have to be better."
After finishing among the top three in overall defense from 1998-2000, the Buccaneers stumbled to ninth overall. The drive back to being the league's elite defensive unit starts with a trio of first-team All Pro selections - LB Derrick Brooks, S John Lynch and DT Warren Sapp. Brooks led the club with 179 tackles, while Lynch paced the secondary, racking up 110 tackles. Sapp posted one of the finest seasons for an interior lineman in NFL history, collecting a franchise-record 16.5 sacks.
During the offseason, Tampa Bay added to its potent defensive line, signing talented DE Simeon Rice. Rice, who posted 51.5 sacks in five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, joins a defensive line that can boast four former first round draft selections - Marcus Jones (career-high 13 sacks), Anthony McFarland (6.5), Sapp and Rice. Add in the talents of Pro Bowl CB Donnie Abraham (seven interceptions) and CB Ronde Barber (97 tackles and 5.5 sacks) and it is easy to understand why the Buccaneers have such high expectations entering the 2001 campaign.
"We expect a lot from our guys," Kiffin said. "But we know our guys can hold up to the challenge of being that dominating defense that patrolled the field in 1999."