Buccaneer receivers seem to have a new drill every day to emphasize techniques during the individual-position drills
Geno Hayes stepped out of the training room door that faces the practice fields behind One Buccaneer Place, took a deep breath and said, "Ah, another beautiful day in Florida."
Hayes was talking to no one in particular. In fact, none of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates were around. Most were already gathering on practice fields two and three, about 100 yards away. The team was about to begin its third organized team activity (OTA) practice of the week and the 10th of the 14 such workouts it will finish by the end of next week.
The day actually promised to be quite hot, as is usually the case in early June in Tampa, but it was still relatively pleasant at 10:15 a.m. Hayes was born in raised in Florida, too, so his standards for a beautiful day probably had to do more with the cloudless blue sky and light breeze than the sort of mounting humidity to which he is now accustomed.
Or maybe Hayes was merely psyching himself up for another high-tempo practice, the type of which the Buccaneers have been running since early in May. In just a few minutes, his position coach, Joe Barry, would be starting the first individual-position drill with all of the linebackers, warming them up with some short high-stepping jogs. "Let's get the knees up, get the blood flowing and have a great day out here," urged Barry.
At this point on the NFL calendar, a great day on the practice is mostly gauged by level of effort and attention to detail. And so the Buccaneers began practice (after the pat-n-go and stretching sessions) with a pair of "indie" periods such as the one that Barry was using to run his charges through the steps. These drills focus on fundamentals of technique, using such tools as tackling dummies, extra lines marked on the field, Jugs guns and the like. Every now and then, a coach introduces a quick new exercises during indies that his players hadn't seen before. Often, it's just another way of combining the tools at hand in order to emphasize a particular point.
For instance, Wide Receivers Coach lined his players up for a new drill on Wednesday. Each receiver in turn was made to shuffle sideways for five yards, using a swiveling-hip gait that the wideouts often practice. At the next intersecting line, he was to make a quick right angle turn and shuffle in the same way to the sideline. When he got there, he was to plant his lead foot hard and cut back diagonally, along the hypotenuse of the triangle he had just traced with his steps. That took him full speed towards a coach who was ready to fire a hard pass directly at him.
The receivers picked up the drill quickly, and then in a blink it was over, as they ran to another part of the field to complete the next exercise. Meanwhile, the defensive linemen were stepping laterally over low pads before planting and exploding towards a short tackling dummy representing a quarterback. The defensive backs had gone to an area out behind the back fence of the yard to hit a tackling sled. The running backs were working on catching passes amid a forest of dummies.
After the individual periods, the Bucs moved on to full-team drills, with the plan of finishing up shortly after noon. Head Coach Raheem Morris had told the referee on hand to expect several hurry-up sessions, as the team's emphasis on special situations continues. Buccaneers.com will provide a more detailed look at the day's action in the afternoon, including another daily OTA Buccaneers Insider in the video section. You can also check out a handful of pictures from Wednesday's practice by clicking here.