The Bucs' good spirits weren't hurt Thursday by a slightly premature end to practice
Here's something you'll rarely see at a Tampa Bay Buccaneer practice, and it happened Thursday: the repeated whistle blast that signals the end of the workout was given…before practice was really over.
An overzealous whistleblower sounded off before the team had done its final drill, a full-team two-minute drive with the Bucs' defense facing a scout offense. Sixty-odd players, familiar with that sound, came to the middle of the field for the final huddle but were shooed back toward the sideline when the mistake was realized seconds later. However, after a brief discussion, the team decided to quit at that point after all, a decision that made dozens of profusely-sweating athletes quite happy, judging from the reaction.
Actually, the team was already in high spirits before the practice ended a few minutes early, and that's because a fine Thursday workout finished off a brief but very effective week of practices. There was visible progress on offense during the week, and the team would like to continue that on Friday against the Kansas City Chiefs, even if the starters are only in for a short while.
"We'd like to get in a groove," said TE Dave Moore. "We want to be clicking on all cylinders when we hit the regular season."
For the second day in a row, the first-team offense managed to drive for a touchdown during its turn in the two-minute drill.
After practice Head Coach Tony Dungy indicated that he planned to put his starting offense on the field la little longer than has previously been the case in the Bucs' preseason finale. "We'd like to get a couple real good drives going, maybe 18-20 plays, around there," said Dungy. "That would be good. We've actually moved the ball well, but we haven't been as efficient in the red zone as we'd like to be."
A couple of players will be even more limited, say zero plays. Dungy listed four Bucs who have definitely been ruled out for Friday's game: tackle Jason Odom, safeties Dexter Jackson and Shevin Smith and FB Kevin McLeod. CB Brian Kelly tweaked his right knee on Thursday and had a little swelling, but he will play against the Chiefs. S Damien Robinson and TE Patrick Hape will be closely monitored and limited to 15 or 20 plays.
T Paul Gruber is in town but was not scheduled to come into the Bucs' complex for a physical, as had been reported in the media. Head Trainer Todd Toriscelli was scheduled to call Gruber at his Tampa home after practice, and may visit the Gruber household to check in with Paul, but Dungy had no knowledge of any further developments.
Gruber has been pursuing his own rehab program in Colorado in recent months as he continues to recover from a broken leg suffered last January 2. He is not currently signed.
TE Blake Spence might not yet be acclimated to the intensely humid heat of a Tampa August, but he had no problem getting through his second workout with the team after being claimed off waivers from the Jets. Spence gives the Bucs seven tight ends on the roster with the final cut down just three days away.
"We're trying to sort out the tight end situation and see how Patrick (Hape) is," said Dungy of the team's best blocking tight end. "All indications are that he is going to be fine. But Blake Spence is a guy that we liked coming out of school. We had a chance to get him and work with him a few days and see if he can help us. Blake Spence…as we talked about him, we still didn't know Patrick's status and we had a chance to get another tight end that we thought could help us. So, yes, we are still working through that position."