Coach Rod Marinelli says early-spring time with players like Anthony McFarland (92) and Steve White gives them a head start going into training camp
Quarterbacks and receivers went about their business on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' front practice field again on Thursday, concentrating a bit more on the deeper routes.
Like a herd of gazelle on the Serengeti, they were blissfully unaware that predators lay in wait just 50 yards away.
While quarterbacks Joe Hamilton, Brad Johnson, Shaun King, Ryan Leaf and Ted White stood alone in the pocket and easily dropped one bomb after another into the receivers' hands, Rod Marinelli planned their destruction nearby.
Well, not their destruction, to be exact. Marinelli is currently honing the skills of his pack of quarterback hunters – also known as defensive linemen – to disrupt the play of opposing quarterbacks. As the Bucs' reworked quarterback stable draws the front-field attention during these early-spring workouts, Marinelli's crew continues to work just as hard on the back field.
On Thursday, he had a packed film room in the morning and a full-scale drill on the field before noon. He estimates that he's had six to eight linemen working with him each day since the voluntary offseason program began, and he expects the full crew to be on hand by next week. Newly-acquired sack-master Simeon Rice is due to arrive on Monday and All-Pro DT Warren Sapp, who has already been involved in the offseason program, will return next week as well.
Today, seven of Marinelli's charges were on hand for the learning session, including Marcus Jones, Steve White and Anthony McFarland. They watched themselves on the big screen in the film room before heading out back to fine-tune their games.
"I only spend about a half hour (a day) with them watching tape – I don't want to overdo it – then we go out and spend about an hour on the field," said Marinelli. "On the field, we work on fundamentals and I film them out there. That way we can look at what we're doing and get the little things cleaned up."
"You don't try to do too many things. During your offseason work, you see little things on each guy – not a lot of things, just little things here and there. You try to identify certain problem areas and you watch a little tape of that to pick out the weaknesses."
Marinelli has a well-deserved reputation as an instructor of the art of trench warfare, and this is like summer school for he and his passrushers. The atmosphere seems more relaxed, less formal, but the work being done is real, and it will help them greatly when the official work begins. "You spend about two or three months doing that because when you get to (training) camp, sometimes you don't have time for those little things," said Marinelli. "That's the advantage of having everybody here at this time of the year."
Off the Beaten Path
The 6-6, finely-toned Jones is a particularly frightening sight for quarterbacks, but he's a free-spirited sort off the field. Later this spring, he'll find an outlet for the artistic side of his soul while also helping to beautify his community.
Sometimes, player appearances in the name of charity come in more unusual forms than a hospital visit or an autograph signing. Two commitments by Jones and LB Shelton Quarles are good examples.
On May 4, Jones will lend a hand, and a brush, to the SilverSpoons & Sandcastles X Celebrity Part, an event hosted by Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and his wife, Dr. Linda McClintock-Greco. During the event, to be held at the Clayground in Ybor City, Jones will paint a signature piece of pottery as part of a benefit for the Mayor's Beautification Program.
Quarles' event is sooner, occurring this Saturday when the 21st Annual Wonder Walk is held by Tampa United Methodist Centers. For the third consecutive year, Quarles will serve as the honorary chairperson for the Wonder Walk, an event that benefits underprivileged children from TUMC's Rosa Valdez and Cuscaden Centers. Quarles will kick off the event and take the first lap around the Lowry Park with the walkers. More than 500 walkers are expected to participate in the fundraising event.
Mock Draft Shapes Up
David Swanson, you're on the clock!
That's how the 2001 Buccaneers Draft Central Mock Draft will begin on the evening of Tuesday, April 17. Mr. Swanson, who answered a draft trivia question posted in Draft Central on March 29, was randomly chosen from among the correct entrants to represent San Diego at the top of our contest.
Already, 25 of Mr. Swanson's fellow Buccaneer fans and draftniks have claimed spots in the Mock Draft by answering trivia questions and agreeing to participate. By Monday, the entire draft board will be filled, but there is still time to enter the contest. Thursday's question and another one to be posted on Friday offer two more chances to get in on the fun and possibly win valuable Buccaneer prizes.
Since the draft will be conducted quickly using e-mail on the 17th, participants do not need to live in the Tampa area. If you have e-mail, you can join in. Click here to go to today's trivia quiz and submit an entry or merely test your Buc draft knowledge.
The results of our mock draft on the 17th will be posted, as they occur, in Draft Central and will remain on display through the following weekend's draft. Those that match their picks with the actual selections made on Saturday will win a prize and be entered into the Grand Prize drawing. More difficult predictions later in the round can earn entrants additional opportunities at the Grand Prize.
Draft Central is also currently beginning a series of position-by-position pre-draft analyses, beginning with the wide receivers. Next up: running backs. There are also links in the area to previous Buc draft news, NFL.com stories on prospects and a look back at Tampa Bay's past draft days.