WR Michael Clayton and the Buccaneers have two more days of practice before their pre-training camp break begins
An extra-long team meeting in the morning pushed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' schedule back by 45 minutes on Tuesday, but by 11:00 a.m. ET the coaches and players were on the practice field for the beginning of a mandatory mini-camp.
And it was very nearly the entire team that took the field on Tuesday. There were two expected absences in quarterback Brian Griese and guard Arron Sears, but the other 83 players on the current roster were in attendance. A small handful of players – wide receiver Sammie Stroughter, linebacker Matt McCoy, defensive tackle Greg Peterson – were held out due to minor injuries, while fullback B.J. Askew was suffering from flu symptoms and running back Cadillac Williams continues his rehab from last December's knee injury. Defensive end Stylez G. White, who is also dealing with minor injuries, joined his teammates on the field but did not practice.
More notable were the men who were on the field, including linebacker Barrett Ruud, who did not participate the team's 14 voluntary organized team activity days (OTAs) over the last five weeks. Ruud could address the media during the open locker room after the morning practice.
Also on the field Tuesday was a prominent former Buccaneer and one of the heroes of the 2002 Super Bowl season, Keenan McCardell. The long-time standout played two seasons in Tampa, contributing 61 catches for 670 yards and six touchdowns (plus two more scores in Super Bowl XXXVII) and leading the team with 84 receptions for 1,174 yards and eight TDs. Over 17 seasons with Washington, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and San Diego, McCardell caught 883 passes for 11,373 yards and 63 touchdowns.
McCardell isn't in town to play an 18th season; he attended practice and meetings on Tuesday as a guest of Head Coach Raheem Morris. Once the work began on the field, McCardell involved himself in the receiver drills, throwing passes to the wideouts along with Special Teams Coach Richard Bisaccia.
The Buccaneers also had their college scouts on hand, as well as several team physicians, a pair of volunteer referees and a few special guests on the sideline. The busy fields, along with the oppressive heat and humidity on Tuesday morning, gave the first practice of mini-camp a decidedly "training camp" feel.
Of course, training camp is still six weeks hence, so there was no contact on Tuesday morning, nor will there be in the afternoon when the team returns to the field for a second practice. Morris devised a morning practice aimed mostly at fundamentals of the game and will save the more specific and detailed work for the afternoon.
Buccaneers.com will have more in-depth coverage of both practices on Tuesday later in the day, complete with Coach Morris' thoughts on his team's efforts. As always, the site will also provide a video peek at the action through a mini-camp edition of the daily Buccaneers Insider.