Quarterbacks (from left) Joe Hamilton, Ryan Leaf, Brad Johnson and Shaun King (Ted White is on hand but not pictured) listen to some advice from Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen
It's 1:00 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, early April, and Clyde Christensen is hunched over his desk taking meticulous notes.
Sure, Christensen is in his first season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive coordinator, but what could be the subject of such intense concentration this far from the actual football season?
Well, how about Brad Johnson, Shaun King, Ryan Leaf, Keyshawn Johnson, Reidel Anthony and Karl Williams? All of those players and more were on the Buccaneers' practice field Wednesday morning, participating in voluntary drills. To Christensen, such key participation on these early, non-mandatory mornings is extremely helpful in the efforts to establish a new offensive framework.
"We're just trying to lay some groundwork," said Christensen. "We'll get on the field a couple days a week and start timing up some things, looking at some things. We'll get the quarterbacks' arms in shape and introduce them to what we're doing. A lot of classroom stuff, then we try to run some cuts and work on fundamentals and techniques."
In fact, all five Buccaneer quarterbacks were on hand – including Joe Hamilton and Ted White – and the quintet of passers took equal turns throughout the morning, each throwing at least two passes for every route run. New Quarterbacks Coach Jim Caldwell stood in the backfield and offered up pointers on footwork while Wide Receivers Coach Charlie Williams stood downfield and barked out instructions to the passcatchers. Christensen roved from side to side, at times counting out receivers' steps in order to improve route-running.
Three of the Bucs' established receivers were on hand for Williams, in addition to youngster Frank Murphy, and 2000 starter Jacquez Green had been in for the first workout on Monday. Overall, the group looked fairly sharp.
"It was good for the second day," said Head Coach Tony Dungy, who quietly watched the drill from a linebacker's depth. "We're fine-tuning some things. I think it's going to really help that we have all the quarterbacks here, all the receivers here. We're working on timing and getting our passing game established. That's obviously going to be a big focus, and having those guys here working is going to help us."
Wednesday was more than just a passing camp, however. On the far field, running backs plus various defensive units held separate drills. Among Wednesday's practicing players were Mike Alstott, John Lynch, Marcus Jones, Steve White, Alshermond Singleton, Nate Webster, Aaron Stecker and Rabih Abdullah. Most of the players left the field around noon with a heavy sweat but a pleased expression.
"Attitudes are good," said Christensen, who spent significant alone time in his office after the workout recording what he had seen. "We've got awful good participation – maybe not 100%, which you would always like to see, but real good participation."
Added Dungy: "It is encouraging. I said a couple of weeks ago when people were talking about our acquisitions that the key thing would be the attitude of our guys, who comes ready to work. It's been encouraging to have this many guys here and to see them ready to go."