The Tampa Bay Buccaneers jogged off the practice field at about 6:30 on Monday afternoon, a half-hour earlier than the original schedule indicated and with a steady rain falling on their helmets. However, the Bucs weren't trying to escape that rain, nor were they leaving 30 minutes of work undone.
Lovie Smith's team has been setting a good pace in practice recently, finishing about 20 minutes early on both Sunday and the previous Wednesday. Even without the inclement weather, the Buccaneers still would have beaten that 7:00 time on Monday; Smith only shaved one practice period off the end to get his team out of the rain.
"We didn't do a two-minute drill at the end, and we cut special teams down a little bit more," he said. "We just had a pretty good tempo. Sometimes when we go with the no-huddle we get off the field a little bit earlier, but besides that, that's all we took out."
In fact, Smith and his coaching staff actually welcomed Monday's showers, and not because they provided a cooler setting than usual. Adding difficulty to the playing conditions and a potential distraction allows the coaches to test their team's mental toughness, not to mention the ability of the quarterbacks and receivers to pitch and catch a water-logged football.
"Guys know that's a part of life down here," said Smith. "Every day [as] we're going out to practice there's been a threat of rain.
Photos from Monday's training camp practice at One Buc Place.
When it does come, that's what we use it for. You're trying to prepare for the season; odds are we're going to have a couple wet-ball drills, a couple wet days, so you have to take advantage of it as much as anything. That's great work. We look for lightning. If there's no lightning…you said it was raining out there today? Can't really tell."
The weather was on everyone's minds Monday but it wasn't the only topic being discussed at training camp. Below is a selection of additional quotes from Smith, center Evan Dietrich-Smith and running back Charles Sims.
Head Coach Lovie Smith
"Another good practice. We have few injuries, Da'Quan Bowers and Steven Means both have upper-leg injuries, in the groin area – hopefully we'll be able to get them back out there before long. This late in camp these kinds of things happen. [Cornerback] Alterraun Verner was able to do a little bit more. We're getting a few guys back pretty much on pace with what we thought they would be. I know the depth chart came out and again as I said the depth chart doesn't mean a whole lot right now. If you guys need me to change it each week and all of that, then that's fine, but look at who's practicing and that will kind of tell you what we're thinking at the time as much as anything. We're looking at different combinations which we'll continue to do and just keep the competition going as much as anything. As a new staff, we want competition at as many positions as possible and I feel like we're getting that."
On how close training camp practices are compared to preseason games for the offensive line:
"I think it's pretty good, when you say the offensive line just look at who they're competing against on the other side. This is great work, a great evaluation for us, it won't be much harder in the game for the players, so that's what we're doing."On the announcement that games won't get blacked out for local fans:
"It's very gratifying. For our fans, we want, we would like for everyone to come to [a game]. Everyone can't come to a game, [so] to be able to watch it on TV too, it's important for us. We feel like we're going to put a good product on the field and we want as many as possible to be able to watch. We're excited about that and we're excited about the home opener coming up. I know we have a few more training camp practices before we get on against the [Miami] Dolphins. It was a lot of fun having the first preseason game on the road last week too, but that's not like home and guys are pretty excited about that."
On the slot receiver competition:
"We've seen good things from Louis [Murphy]. From the OTAs on, he's made plays, but we've seen good things from a lot of the guys. It's just a process that you just have to keep going through. They have their moments when you really like some things that they're able to do. Louis had a couple of big catches and did some good things last week, but that's pretty much how he's done. For the players like Louis though – as we look, if you're one of our starters and you have an idea probably. If you are not, if you're not, it has to be about more than just that, it has to be about special teams too. Skill positions, wide receiver, tight end, running backs, cornerbacks and linebackers, those backup positions you have to have special teams value also, that goes into the equation too."
RB Charles Sims
On how Lovie Smith graded his performance in the first preseason game:
"I graded out pretty good, but there's room for improvement. You try to get better every game so you just go out there and give it your all and just play the game." On his first preseason action:
"It felt good. My first NFL game; just coming out there. After the first play, I was just relaxed and just playing my game and just having fun." On if he felt he had any highlight plays in the game:
"I had a couple of good runs and I had a few catches. But there's always room for improvement. I'm just ready for Miami." On the depth the team has at running back:
"We just keep on working. We've got a good group of running backs so we just keep on pushing each other making sure we get better every day."
C Evan Dietrich-Smith
On the rain at today's practice:
"It was refreshing in all honesty. Kind of like taking a shower outside. Sitting out there, you're getting beat down by the sun the whole time and you're sweating. It was a nice little change up. I didn't mind it one bit."
On the progress of the offensive line this week:
"I thought we had a pretty good day today. It's getting up there in training camp. We're grinding it out, guys are getting nicked up a little bit here and there. But I thought we made some progress today. I thought we had a good seven-on-seven drill – I thought our team was pretty good. Then the rain started coming down, so we cut it short. Didn't really get to finish the practice, but from what I saw, what we had out there, I thought we did a good job." On the potential of the offense:
"We're really kind of showing you guys, on a percentage scale, probably about five percent of what we can really do. Real base, vanilla stuff. I was watching the Atlanta and the Dolphins game – coming up this week – but I was watching that and those guys are out there throwing blitzes and stuff. I think Lovie had us go out there and line up and was basically just like, 'Play some football,' like we were kind of out in the street a little bit. It wasn't anything super complicated. We weren't out there trying to trick anybody with anything right off the bat. But at the same time, when you go out there, you keep score. You want to win those football games. You want to go out and you want to have a good showing and obviously, that didn't happen last week. Right now, I think we might get a little bit more this weekend, but by the third game, what you guys are going to see out there will probably be a pretty good gauge of what you're going to see during the season."