Strange cloud formations rolled in and out Friday but didn't cut the heat over the Bucs' practice
The repeated, long whistle blasts came at approximately 12:45 on Friday, not 1:15, but this time there was no mistake. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished up their final full workout almost half an hour early, an indication of how efficient the week of practice had been.
Actually, the decision to bring it in early was a combination of several factors. The team's coaching staff had been stressing tempo all week, and they really had the players moving from drill to drill on Friday. Since they had accomplished quite a bit in the 'two-minute offense' period of practice on Thursday, the coaches felt they could cut out a part of that session on Friday.
Head Coach Tony Dungy went along with that plan in part because Head Trainer Todd Toriscelli told the coach he was worried about the continuing heat that had descended on practice all week. On Thursday, several players were treated for cramps during and after the afternoon workout.
Nevertheless, Dungy felt the team was operating very efficiently both on Friday and the two previous days of full practice.
"I thought we were sharp," he said. "Last week was exceptionally sharp, but this week, again, was good. We were happy with our practices and I think we'll come out and play well."
TE Patrick Hape, who was limited to just a few quarters of play during the preseason due to his ongoing recovery from foot surgery, should see plenty of action on Sunday in Foxboro. Head Coach Tony Dungy, who has said that Hape would have to fill two roles with the loss of FB Kevin McLeod, clarified that a bit on Friday.
Dungy indicated that in two-tight end sets with one back in the backfield, Dave Moore and Hape would serve as the bookends. However, when the team wants to put a fullback in front of the tailback and still have two tight ends on the line, Dungy will utilize Hape in the backfield and bring in Blake Spence opposite Moore.
Dungy also indicated that the role of third receiver might be a little amorphous this week and throughout the season. With Keyshawn Johnson and Jacquez Green due to start, the team's other three receivers will get varying playing time depending on the situation.
"We've actually got some stuff for different guys, running different plays," said Dungy. "Depending on what we're doing, Karl (Williams) may be in, Reidel (Anthony) may be in and Andre (Hastings) may be in, if he's active.
"They can all do good things. Whether we want to have five or four (active receivers), that's something we're going to have to hash through.
Whoever Dungy needs on Sunday, he's eager to see the team as a whole in a normal game setting.
"I'm anxious to see our whole team play for four quarters," he said. "We showed some bright spots in training camp all the way around. It's just a matter now of going out and doing it on the road against a good team, playing with that emotion that you need to play, seeing if we can stay mistake free…all of those things."
As he mentioned on Thursday, Dungy also reiterated on Friday that rookie David Gibson will be called upon to spell starter Damien Robinson at free safety in Foxboro. Gibson's activity will be based on how many snaps the team wants to let Robinson play, now how many times the defense is on the field.
"Hopefully, we're going three-and-out a lot and Damien won't get winded," said Dungy with a laugh. "It's going to be a number of plays. We're going to try to keep his plays down and not let him go too many in a row. If we have a long drive, he may be in there two or three plays in a series, then back out."
The Bucs had no change to their injury report on Friday. The team's first four inactives will be announced later in the afternoon.