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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Soggy But Satisfied (July 24)

Rainy days and Mondays may have always gotten the Carpenters down, but neither stopped the Bucs’ construction project


The Bucs' offense was relatively sharp on Monday afternoon, though TE James Whalen (87) suffered an injury

There was no rain during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' second training camp practice, but there were still very few dry jerseys by the end of the hour-and-40-minute affair on Monday afternoon.

The intermittent showers that covered all of Tampa on Monday battered the team at times during it's Monday morning workout, leaving a soggy field for the second of the two-a-day practices. That meant tricky footing at times, and may have contributed to a practice that didn't seem to fully satisfy the head coach.

"It was okay," said Tony Dungy of the afternoon session. "Maybe not quite what we're looking for, but I think we're stepping in the right direction.

"I guess I want us to be perfect. I want us to not make mistakes, to not have the ball on the ground at all. Some of that you've got to credit to this being the first day, but we've just got to be a little sharper, have a little better tempo."

There was some discussion as to whether the team would come back out on the field after its morning dousing, but that discussion never reached Dungy's dorm room. "There wasn't any question in my mind (that the team would practice outdoors)," he said. "There might have been some question in the player's minds, but as soon as we got the confirmation that we wouldn't have any lightning, we wanted to come outside.

"The rain was a little bit of a factor this morning, but it wasn't a problem this afternoon. Sometimes that can be good, where you've got to deal with the wet ball, you've got to deal with bad footing, you've got to concentrate a little bit harder. I thought we came out with the mindset to do that in the afternoon."

Indeed, despite Dungy's reserved evaluation, the team's offense looked sharp at several points during the practice, which alternated sharply between team and individual drills. It appears that the crowd on hand is prepared to cheer WR Keyshawn Johnson's every twitch, but the newly-acquired receiver gave them plenty to cheer about Monday afternoon. He repeatedly had the ball thrown his way in team drills and made at least three tough catches in traffic.

During one-on-one drills earlier in the workout, Johnson beat his man and made the catch on both of his routes. He was outdone only by Karl Williams, who got three routes to Johnson's two and made the catch each time, once reaching behind him for an impressive grab on a crossing route. Overall, Johnson and Williams accounted for five of the nine completions made on the 22 one-on-ones during that drill. Cornerback Floyd Young had the best defensive 'stats' during that drill, denying his man on each of his three tries.

A few of the 87 Bucs on hand (FB Jim Kitts was waived before the afternoon workout), could only watch the action unfold. Among them was fourth-year TE Patrick Hape, who re-signed just before camp started but has yet to participate in a practice. He underwent surgery on a right foot fracture in June and reports to that he still experiences pain when he tries to cut on that foot. Dungy hopes he will be back on the field shortly.

"Patrick Hape is coming along," said Dungy. "He still doesn't have the medical clearance to play, but we don't think it's too serious. I'd say he's probably day to day. We had some people held out in the afternoon, Shawn Stuckey, Ashley Cooper, Damien Robinson, Patrick.

"They're just little leg ailments. Especially with our NFL Europe guys (Stuckey), we're going to be real aware of their legs and not try to fatigue them too early. Ashley Cooper's coming off a surgery, so he might be once a day for the next few days just to get his feet wet."

As reported early this afternoon, Robinson was the first Buccaneer to be hurt during camp, suffering a left hamstring strain early in Monday mornings workout. Dungy believes his starting free safety will miss at least the remainder of this week. Monday afternoon, rookie TE James Whalen suffered a similar fate, leaving practice early due to his own left hamstring strain. Whalen was considered doubtful for Tuesday's practice.

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