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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

OTA Notes: The Defense's Day

Tampa Bay defenders threw a pick party in practice during the team's final OTA, and Head Coach Lovie Smith didn't mind seeing his defense come out on top for one day…And other notes.

Check out photos of the last day of OTA practices at One Buccaneer Place.

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Jameis Winston, Mike Glennon and the offensive half of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster had some good days over the course of three weeks of OTA practices. Thursday was not one of them.

The last of the 10 OTAs belonged to Tampa Bay's defense, which picked off a string of passes during the two-hour field session, victimizing Winston, Glennon and third quarterback Seth Lobato in equal doses. How promising such a development is for the team depends on what side of the line of scrimmage one aligns with, but with enough positive tape from the offense in recent practices, Head Coach Lovie Smith didn't mind seeing his defense rule for once.

"For us, it's about taking the ball away and we are able to get our hands on it quite a bit," said Smith. "It's a good thing if you are talking defense. Offensively of course, it's about ball protection, securing the football and we didn't do a great job with that today. Our offense has had a lot of good days; today you want to see the defense have a few good days too. Today was one of those."

Linebacker Bruce Carter, a 2015 free agent acquisition from Dallas and a prolific interceptor during the 2014 season, says his teammates did a good job of capitalizing on their opportunities on Thursday.

"Being able to be in position to make interceptions [is important] but the main thing is, when it's thrown to you, you've got to catch it," said Carter. "A lot of guys will have great jumps on balls, and some of them are gifts, but a lot of times guys think about the end zone before they catch it. So my tip for that is, make sure you catch it first and then do your thing."

Some additional notes from Thursday's OTA:

  • One of the many picks collected by Tampa Bay defenders fell into the hands of cornerback C.J. Wilson, but not before it had been deflected by one of his teammates. Linebacker Danny Lansanah jumped a short route and got his hands on a hard, short throw. The fact that it led to a turnover for his side was cheered by the defense but Lansanah had a different reaction, showing frustration that he didn't haul it in himself. According to Carter, Lansanah hasn't let many balls get past him. "Danny's been our interception master all OTAs," said Carter. "I think he had one today that he dropped. He's a great player, a guy that has a lot of experience on our team and a lot of leadership. I'm excited to play alongside him." In 2014, Carter and Lansanah finished one-two in the NFL's interception race among linebackers, with five for the former and three for the latter. Lansanah did top Carter in the pick-six competition, scoring twice to his new teammate's one touchdown.
  • Rookie WR Kenny Bell sat out another practice due to a mild hamstring injury, but the roster is actually in very good shape after three solid weeks of OTAs. Only nine of the 89 players on hand did not participate in Thursday's practice, including Bell. The other eight were wide receiver Robert Herron, safety Chris Hackett, defensive end Larry English, cornerback Deshazor Everett, offensive lineman Antoine Everett and linebackers Jason Williams, Larry Dean and Quinton Alston. "There's nothing major," said Smith of the team's short list of aching players. "We don't have any major injuries right now on our football team. If guys are banged up a little bit with muscle injuries we'll take every precaution we can with them. We've seen Kenny do a lot of good things. Eventually he'll be back out there."
  • With incumbent right tackle Demar Dotson still electing not to participate in the voluntary OTA practices of the last two weeks, the Buccaneers continued to look at last year's starting right guard on the edge of the line. Patrick Omameh, who opened all 16 games for the Buccaneers last year, ran with the first-team offensive line for most of Thursday's practice. Head Coach Lovie Smith says the team has plenty of options at guard and that Omameh has the skill set the team looks for in a tackle. At 6-4 and 305 pounds, he definitely has the size. Rookie second-rounder Ali Marpet is probably Plan A at right guard this year, but at the moment Garrett Gilkey is running with the first team at that spot. The rest of the first O-Line on Thursday was center Evan Smith, left guard Logan Mankins and left tackle Donovan Smith, another rookie.
  • Second-year man Matthew Masifilo, who has spent this offseason converting from offense to defense, saw time at right guard for the second line. With actual contact disallowed during the offseason, it's difficult to judge how far along Masifilo is in his attempt to learn a new job, but he did look especially quick on one play when he was asked to pull and provide a moving block on the left end of the line.
  • Wide receiver Louis Murphy, a Bay area native, is enjoying the Tampa Bay Lightning's Stanley Cup run as much as the rest of the town. He attended Game Two at Amelie Arena – a thrilling 4-3 Lightning victory that tied the series at 1-1 – and the experience became a source of inspiration for him in his own pursuit. "It was so exciting.," said Murphy. "I went there and tried to mentally put myself there, like in the playoffs, playing for a chance at the Super Bowl. It was just awesome, to see the energy that the Bolts are playing with right now, and how intense the games have been."
  • The first trio of linebackers to take the field during the initial full-team period consisted of Lansanah on the strong side, Carter in the middle and Lavonte David on the weak side. There were other combinations used throughout the day, however, including one group of plays with mostly defensive starters in which the two linebackers in a nickel package were Lansanah and rookie Kwon Alexander. Since David's weakside spot is secure and Carter was signed to play in the middle, it is widely presumed that Lansanah and Alexander are competing for the third starting spot. It may be that the Buccaneers find they have four linebackers they consider starting caliber and they will have to find a way to utilize them all. Carter has been impressed with Alexander. "Oh God, the kid's got a motor," said Carter of his rookie teammate. "He's running all day. He came in and he's very smart and intelligent as a player. I don't think he's really had any setbacks since he came in. He's done an awesome job."
  • Rookie Jameis Winston was first in the quarterback rotation for most of Thursday's workout. He and third-year man Mike Glennon have been taking turns running with the ones from day to day during the 10 OTA sessions.
  • Third-year safety D.J. Swearinger, a former second-round pick who came to the Bucs as a waiver claim from the Houston Texans in May, spent a good part of Thursday running with the first-team defense alongside Chris Conte. Lovie Smith has liked what he has seen from Swearinger over the past month and feels his team was fortunate to land the former South Carolina standout. "He's a very smart football player, starting off with that, good agility," said Smith. "We feel like we picked up a draft pick by getting a player like that. He can play the run. Again, good instincts, smart, everything you want to see a guy do, running around in underwear, he has been able to do well. His strong suit is supposed to be when he gets in pads, so we like him being on the team."
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