LeGarrette Blount and Doug Martin may be working together in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' backfield this season, but on Wednesday they were competitors on opposite sidelines. The same was true for Adam Hayward and Najee Goode; Josh Freeman and Dan Orlovsky; Ahmad Black and Larry Asante; and countless other Buc teammates who are used to working together.
In order to appeal to his players' competitiveness and add yet another layer of intensity to practice on Wednesday, Head Coach Greg Schiano split his roster in two and spent much of the day "scrimmaging" a variety of game situations. The scrimmage did not include live tackling, but there was an in-depth scoring system that allowed players on both offense defense to contribute towards a practice-field victory. It was not offense versus defense, but rather two mixed squads with players from all three phases of the game, including kickers, on each team.
"Like with anything else, these guys are competitors," said Schiano, "so as soon as you put teams and you put a scoreboard, it's on."
That is precisely what happened, in fact. Schiano said the team got through about 80% of the entries in what it considers "situational football" (red zone, short-yardage, etc.) and the work was effective because both sides wanted to "win."
"That's exactly what it was," said rookie safety Mark Barron. "It was just a way to get the competition going and get everybody excited. I think we came out and did a good job today."
Rookie linebacker Najee Goode had the most impactful play during the various scrimmage periods, intercepting a pass attempt by quarterback Brett Ratliff and returning it down the left sideline for what appeared to be a touchdown. Goode later said he had successfully hidden from the quarterback in order to get in position for the pick.
However, the rookie wasn't quite sure if he had been given credit for the touchdown at the other end.
"That pick I had, I kind of ran out of gas," said Goode with a laugh. "I don't know…it's an offensive game and everybody wants to see the offense score."
Either way, the splitting of the squad was a success.
"Just pumping up the competition," said Goode. "Even though we're a team, you're always pushing each other to get better. Everybody wants a spot on the 53-man roster, but ultimately you've got to compete to get better. That scrimmage that we had, the camaraderie and everything, was good."