Pictures of the Buccaneers' training camp practice in Jacksonville on Thursday.
Depending upon whom you listen to, Dirk Koetter either did or did not have a few pointed words for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive players on Wednesday evening.
"Coach talked to us yesterday and said we had to pick our energy up, and we responded well," said wide receiver Mike Evans.
Koetter, the Buccaneers' head coach and play-caller, was a little more cryptic about the topic but clearly in a more positive frame of mind after the second of his team's two joint practices with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Well, I've got a feeling there was some talking going on," he joked. "I just have a feeling. I can't confirm it."
Whatever words were uttered, they were the right ones. After an offensive performance on Wednesday described by Koetter as "sluggish," the Buccaneers were far sharper on that side of the ball on Thursday. A near-perfect two-minute drill for the first-team offense and a touchdown-heavy seven-on-seven period in the red zone highlighted a very thorough two-hour rebound by the visiting team.
When it came down to it, apparently, Koetter didn't have to say much to motivate his offense to have a better showing against their hosts on Thursday.
"I really didn't have to – the players knew," he said. "When they watched the tape, they knew. Those guys did a good job. Offensively, they knew that wasn't our best effort or the right kind of effort, and so it was much better today."
All three Buccaneer quarterbacks had impressive moments during Thursday's practice at the Jaguars' complex flanking EverBank Field in downtown Jacksonville. However, second-year starter Jameis Winston was particularly sharp, especially when conducting the aforementioned two-minute drill. The Bucs' front-line offense needed just five plays to drive for a touchdown in roughly 45 seconds, with Winston completing all five of his passes. Evans caught two of the first three before tight end Cam Brate got the offense into the red zone with a sliding grab over the middle. Winston hit slot receiver Adam Humphries on a curl in the left flat on the fifth play and Humphries turned it up without being touched to reach the end zone.
"Yesterday, the coaches challenged us about having an edge, being willing to compete hard," said Winston. "I just feel like we went out there and did that today."
There were four total two-minute drives in that period, with each club's first-team offense facing the other's first-team defense, followed by a pair of drives run by the second-teamers. None of the other three drives came close to scoring. Evans was impressed with the Jaguars' defense but pleased to see his crew have some much-needed success.
"They've got big, thick DBs," said the Bucs' third-year wideout. "They get their hands on you at the line. They can run. They're very talented on that back end so they gave us some real good work. When you see our two-minute offense as much as our own defense does, we don't have as much success against our defense but we had a good outing against them."
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When Winston wasn't taking the snaps he was providing some rather animated encouragement from the sideline. A mutually-respective rival with former Florida State teammates Telvin Smith and Jalen Ramsey helped stoke his fire, but mostly he wanted to answer his coaches' call to action from the night before.
"It's all a part of competitiveness," said Winston. "We've got to get everybody going, get everybody fired up."
Evans has already played one season with Winston, as both were part of the most prolific yardage attack in franchise history in 2015. He obviously saw the natural emergence of the then-rookie quarterback as a team leader during the season. Evans eagerly followed Winston's lead again on Thursday.
"Yeah, it got me fired up," said Evans. "I started talking a little trash and I got fired up. That's good, to have that. You can't simulate that going against our guys."
The bottom line: The Buccaneers' offense needed a rebound in a big way on Thursday, and it got one, making the team's head coach happy in the process.
"I thought we got really good work," said Koetter. "That was really good two-minute work, where we got four drives, two on each side. I thought our team had a much crisper approach than we did yesterday, so I'm pleased with that."