Rookie wide receiver Robert Herron had just one catch in his first NFL game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 16-10 loss in Jacksonville on Friday night, but it was an eye-opener. Cutting from right to left about 10 yards down the field, Herron spun around to snag a pass that was thrown behind him, then whirled back around and kept going.
It was a nice moment for Herron, who had dropped a handful of passes on the practice field during the first two weeks of training camp. If he can make such plays more frequently – and haul in the routine passes at a higher rate – he could carve out a role on the Bucs' offense in his first year.
Head Coach Lovie
Smith believes that will happen as the rookie from Wyoming develops more consistency in his game.
"That's how he's been – he's shown flashes throughout," said Smith. "In the game – one great play, drop another. A lot of that is normal rookie play. I try to concentrate on those plays where he has caught the ball – some of the quickness we've been able to see throughout. In time, he's going to be a pretty good football player."
Smith discussed a number of other topics after his team got back on the practice field on Sunday, beginning the final week of training camp.Opening statement:
"It was good to get back out on the practice field again today. We only have a few more training camp type practices. These are all important. We didn't play as well [against Jacksonville] as we need to. I realize we're not first game of the season ready yet, but normally there's a big improvement from game one to game two and that's what we plan on doing. We realize we had problems with protection and just some of our offensive line play. But you have to get in a game situation to see some of these things. The depth chart hasn't really meant an awful lot until this past week's game. And now, it does mean a little bit more because we have something concrete to kind of go off of as a starting spot, which we've done. We'll continue to work different combinations for a lot of positions. There's no position on the field where we were just totally satisfied and feel like we're game ready – everyone can get a lot better. [It is a] game of opportunities and we didn't seize any. Whenever you're behind in turnover ratio, you're going to normally lose. But anyways, it was good to get back out on the practice field again today."On the return of cornerback Alterraun Verner to practice:
"He's been making progress throughout. He's not ready to be thrown out there full speed ahead, but he is in position to start getting some individual work, which we were able to do today. He needs work too, just like everyone else. With hamstrings, you have to be careful with them – can't have a relapse or anything like that. Feels good to start the process of getting him back out on the football field."On the potential of safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson:
"I think pretty good. We're paying them that way. High draft pick, high priced guy. You expect great play from them. Very pleased with both. Mark Barron, of course, has gotten a lot of reps and has played the pass well, the run well.
Just a good football player. Dashon Goldson, of course coming back off an injury, but he'll play this week. The plan was to hold him out the first preseason game. Very pleased with his demeanor on the sidelines this past week. We had another coach on the sideline, really into the game. He's going to bring energy and of course great play. So we're pretty excited about that tandem. We need to be strong down the middle of the field. We ask our safeties to do a lot – in the run game and of course in the passing game."On running back Charles Sims and his performance in the first preseason game:
"Saw flashes too. When you have a limited amount of reps, that's about all you will see is flashes. But that's what we've seen from Charles on the football field too. It's what we saw at West Virginia – that type of play. In the open field, he can make you miss, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. So it's a good start for him to just get some NFL action. But he should only get better. And he has a lot of potential to do some things in this league."On the special teams performance in the preseason and if a leader has emerged on special teams:
"We thought we got pretty consistent play from our special teams. We had a lot of guys that graded out fairly well. Thought we had an opportunity with a couple of returns – thought we had it blocked fairly well. Our returners have to do a better job. Kind of as simple as that – we're looking for a guy. Bobby Rainey did some good things. Of course Eric Page had an opportunity. As far as our leaders, it has to be your core group of guys. I'm talking about basically the linebackers, so Danny Lansanah, Dane Fletcher – it has to be those guys. Bradley McDougald, Keith Tandy, Major Wright. All of those guys have to really perform. We're counting on them to play well."On defensive end Adrian Clayborn and if he can take his game to the next level:
"I'm anxious to see. It's an important year for him. Playing opposite Michael [Johnson], we have high hopes. You see the way the guy works out there. He's a guy that's put himself in position to play well. I asked him to drop weight, change his body, lose some body fat. Everything we've asked, Adrian has done and been a model guy doing it. So I'm anxious to see how he plays. Have looked at him from afar for a lot of years. Once you get up and close with him, you like what you see. But he's an outside rusher and he needs to be able to rush the passer from the outside when he gets in one-on-one situations and we think he can."z