QB Byron Leftwich and FB Jameel Cook work on a short pass route during the early part of Wedensday's practice
Maybe Ice Cube had a point.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came out to practice on Wednesday morning to the flow of "It Was a Good Day," the 1993 feel-good hit from the seminal rapper.
Now, some may not consider football practice in Florida – on the cusp of summer, no less – to be the logical start to a good day. Approximately 80 red and white-jerseyed men at One Buccaneer Place seemed to feel differently on Wednesday, hitting the field with a hop in their collective step.
Perhaps it was the weather, which gave the players a slight break with a cooling breeze and less stifling humidity than the day before. Perhaps the players knew they were hitting the halfway point of this five-week string of "organized team activity" days, or OTAs. Or maybe it was simply the joy of football, and the desire to seize another opportunity to impress the coaching staff.
Whatever the reason, the Bucs were in high gear on Wednesday morning as the seventh of 14 OTAs began. After the usual pat-n-go and stretching periods, the players sprang into action at 10:32 a.m., as one Buc coach yelled, "Let's go to work!"
As usual, the first two post-stretch periods of practice were individual-position work, or "indies." The defense spread out on field two, with the linemen in the south end zone, the linebackers in the middle of the field and the defensive backs to the north.
The cornerbacks gathered near the east sideline, taking turns in a drill that had them start out in an apparent press stance before turning their hips, running with a phantom receiver on a fly route and leaping to make the interception at the highest possible point. Defensive Backs Coach Joe Baker emphasized that last detail, imploring the cornerbacks to "attack the ball. Don't wait on it." In the next set of reps, the cornerbacks first gave the opposing receiver a quick re-route before dropping back into a zone.
The offense took field one, with receivers working from midfield towards the facility and the quarterbacks and running backs working together in the south end zone. All four passers stayed with the backs, working on a variety of handoffs and short routes out of the backfield. That left Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to serve as the surrogate quarterback for the receivers, tossing them quick passes as they ran short routes. The receivers then lined up directly across from Bisaccia and ran right at him, trying to catch the hard passes Bisaccia was whipping at them as they closed the gap.
A horn signaled the second indie period, and the quarterbacks moved down to join the receivers. The drill that followed was run at an extremely fast tempo; even though many of the routes were short, they were done in rapid-fire succession, and as soon as one group of routes was done, the players would quickly turn around and run a new set in the opposite direction. Though some periods in a non-contact drill, as all OTAs must be, are run at less than full speed, the receivers in this drill were maxing out, running as fast as possible and making very hard cuts. On one snap, veteran receiver Michael Clayton dashed across the middle and made a dazzling one-handed of a pass thrown a bit too far in front of him.
The Buccaneers were just getting started on this "good day," with several full-team periods still in front of them in the second half of practice. Wednesday's workout was due to end at approximately 12:15 p.m. ET. Buccaneers.com will provide a more detailed look at the day's action in the afternoon, including another daily OTA Buccaneers Insider in the video section.