- After taking a beating from the defense in Sunday's live goal-line drill, the Bucs' offense came back with a vengeance on Tuesday
- Head Coach Lovie Smith provided the offense with motivation by talking up the defense all day before practice
- Live-tackling drills sometimes lead to heated moments but the opposing players put it behind them by the end of practice
Over the course of a three-week training camp, the offense will occasionally celebrate an acrobatic touchdown catch and the defense will occasionally mob one of their own after a timely interception. It's understandable that the players get excited when their side does well, because the competition is real even if the accumulated points and yards are not.
Still, everyone on the field knows that you have to take these wins with a grain of salt because the lack of actual tackling and the all-important don't-hit-the-quarterback edict throw everything into doubt. There are only a few real opportunities for bragging rights during training camp, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one on Sunday.
At the end of that practice on the 10th day of training camp, Head Coach Lovie Smith had his team run a fully "live" – that is, all hitting and tackling allowed – goal-line period. While the offense managed to get the ball in the end zone a couple times over the course of a dozen plays, the Buccaneers' defense, led by penetrating defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, clearly ruled the day. Fortunately for the guys on offense, they only had to wait a couple more days to get a chance to even the score.
And even it, they did. With running back Doug Martin and his blockers setting the tone, the offense was the clear winner of a second live goal-line session late in Tuesday's practice. Smith, who obviously knows that any success by one side of his team means failure for the other, was glad to see the reversal of fortune. It showed him that his top performers on offense have a lot of pride to go with their obvious talent.
"I think if you are a competitor, you just kind of get tired of hearing it," said Smith. "I'm right in the middle. Some days I'm offense, offense. The group that performs the best, I'm right in that huddle with them. As I came into the meetings today, I was tooting the defense's horn. I think they had eight turnovers yesterday. [The offense] got tired of hearing that and normally when you get tired of hearing something you do something about it. That's what we at least want them to do."
Martin scored three times for an offense that was clearly fired up to show it isn't second-fiddle to the defense on this new-look Buccaneers team. Fullback Jorvorskie Lane, who has been providing some punishing lead blocks for the first-team offense said his side was also trying to set a tone for the regular season, when prime scoring opportunities can't be wasted.
Practice gets far more intense when defensive players are told they are allowed to fully tackle the opposition
"Oh yeah, that's part of it," said Lane. "As an offense, we bring it, we're fighting. When you get down there, the opportunity is slim. You don't want to settle for three. Three points are good, don't get me wrong, but I'd rather have six.
"It went good. I think we laced up our boots today and really came on with it."
There was no shortage of celebration by the white jerseys after their successes on Tuesday evening, and that appeared to rub a few of the Buccaneer defenders the wrong way. But only briefly. The Bucs followed that goal-line drill with a quick two-minute period to end the practice, and by the time the final horn had sounded there were no hard feelings.
"The other day, we tried to beat the offense, so it became really competitive [today]," said linebacker Lavonte David. "I guess they were out for revenge today. They kind of caught us off-guard with a couple of quick counts and things like that. But at the end of the day, we're all just trying to get better and we're all trying to work on what we need to work on."