Jacquez Green and the wide receivers had perhaps their best one-on-one drill of the week on Thursday
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Tony Dungy believes you can be trained to deal with adversity, so he often purposefully injects a little bit of into his team's schedule.
For instance, the Bucs practiced for two hours in the heat of Thursday morning, will hit the field again in the afternoon to work on special teams and, after some time off Thursday evening, will get a short night of rest before a 6:00 a.m. bus ride to Orlando.
Of course, that wasn't the original schedule. The unpredictable Tampa weather added a little adversity of its own Wednesday night by swamping the team's scheduled evening practice with rain and heavy lightning. Since the field goal kicking and two-minute drill work the team was going to do on Wednesday was considered crucial, Dungy was forced to schedule a makeup workout on Thursday morning.
His team handled that sudden switch well and, by the end of the morning practice, Dungy felt the move hadn't slowed the Bucs down.
"t really didn't," said Dungy. "This is what you have to do, regroup. Yesterday, we had all the excitement and the energy. Today, you've got to do it when there's not as many people out here and it's a little hotter, and I think for the most part we had very good effort."
"We did make up for (Wednesday's rainout," he continued. "It was really tough on some of our fans, the people who planned on coming out last night. We had a big crowd. But we had some things we felt we needed to get done, so we pushed it back to today and got our two-minute work and some field goal and extra point kicking."
Though those were the primary areas of focus, the practice also contained the usual assortment of individual and one-on-one drills. The team's quarterbacks and receivers looked particularly sharp during one-on-ones with the cornerbacks, completing a high percentage of their passes. It got a little rougher as more players were added into the drill.
"One-on-one *was good," said Dungy. Then, we got into the seven-and-seven, it wasn't as crisp. Overall, it was a good day, a good finish to this part of it, and now we've got to put it all together in Orlando."
WR Karl Williams, who made an outstanding toe-dragging catch on the sideline during one-on-ones, thinks the team is headed in the right direction.
"Right now, it's really a mental struggle," said Williams. "The coaches are throwing a lot at us, and we're trying to fight the elements to have two-a-days. Like Coach Steckel said, we're making progress every day, and that's all that matters.
"It was kind of rough in the two-minute drill. I wish that we had gotten it over with yesterday, but we came out today and worked hard, tried to push on and move forward. For the first look, I think we did a heck of a job."
Dungy did have a little concern over the team's field-goal kicking efforts, but agreed with Williams that the two-minute attack was as good as could be expected.
"We had some problems with our protection a little bit, had a couple of balls deflected, but I thought Martin (Gramatica) kicked well," said Dungy. Our two-minute (offense) came on and we got better at it, so we'll see.
"We're coming along. I'm satisfied with the effort, and that's always what you look for at this time of the year. We'll get sharper as we go on, but it will be a good test the next couple of days in Orlando against the Dolphins."
Dungy was referring to the team's two-day trip to the Florida Citrus Bowl for a series of four joint practices with the Miami Dolphins. That's the reason for the 6:00 a.m. bus ride, which will get the team to Orlando in time for the first workout, at 9:00 a.m. As usual, the prospect of another team to play against has coaches and players eager to gauge their own progress.
"I think it will be good for us, a good measuring stick," said Dungy. "A lot of what we're doing on offense isn't really designed to beat our defense, so we'll get a chance to see that against someone else, and I think that's going to help us improve."
The four practices in Orlando in two days represent an even tougher schedule than the one the Bucs have been following, and it's bound to produce some fatigued players. In fact, Dungy could see a slight downturn in energy in Thursday morning's session.
"It's a little slower," he said. "They really need a day off and hopefully they'll take the afternoon and the evening and get rested up. We'll have four tough practices (in Orlando). At the end of this week, we'll really be able to measure where we are." *