For the first time, the players and new coaches took the practice field under the purview of the media (for the first 30 minutes, anyways), and it was clear early on that there would be a new way of doing things in practice. Some notes and thoughts from day one of the Bucs’ voluntary veteran minicamp:
- No, really. There would be a new way of doing literally everything right from the beginning, including stretching. Instead of players jogging lackadaisically up the field during stretching/warm-up activities, Head Coach Greg Schiano stopped them and barked at them something the Bucs’ have seemed to lose sight of during the 2011 season: “football is a game of details!” He made them put their toes on the yard marker and move in unison down the field as they went through their stretching and warm up drills.
- After a series of short sprints, the whistle blew and players took off running to their positional groups, with their positional coaches in tow, yelling encouragement. Running and hustle were the themes of the day.
- A coach who caught my attention early was new WR coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck worked with WRs Preston Parker and Sammie Stroughter on fielding punts—-except with a twist. He made Parker hold two footballs in his hand and field the punt accordingly. When Parker caught it, Fleck commented on the angle in which he caught the ball. Despite being a smaller guy in stature than his players, his voice was piercing and his energy and enthusiasm off the charts. Take from that what you will in an April minicamp.
- However, the voice you could hear over all coaches was Schiano’s. At one point, Schiano was working with a full defense and made an interesting reference. He compared eleven defenders working together to synchronized swimming. To hit his point home, he had the defense line up and sprint sideline to sideline after imaginary “ballcarriers” in an effort to emphasize gang tackling, which is something this defense certainly lacked in 2011.
- For the first time, we got a look at some new Buccaneers in Pewter and Red practice gear, with Eric Wright, Vincent Jackson, and Carl Nicks going through their first workouts as Buccaneers. Wright wore #21, Jackson #83, and Nicks #77. Also, the newest Buccaneer, Amobi Okoye (#96) was in attendance.
- In fact, the only players not in attendance were Connor Barth, who is not presently under contract after receiving the franchise tag earlier this offseason, and a mystery player that Schiano referenced at his press conference who he expected to be there.
- It was also an early chance to see how the coaching staff would look at their depleted linebacker and safety positional groups. Ronde Barber saw time at safety with Cody Grimm, which is not unexpected, given that the Bucs have four safeties currently on the roster (Grimm, Ahmad Black, Devin Holland, and Larry Asante). Quincy Black also got a look at middle linebacker, with Mason Foster and Adam Hayward manning the outside positions.
- However, Schiano says it’s just a matter of feeling out players at different positions right now. “They’re very preliminary, but we are going to try different combinations. Our goal is to get the best eleven on defense and the best eleven on offense and the best eleven on each special team. So who they are, I don’t think you can pigeonhole guys into positions because the scheme is going to be a little different than what it’s been. So we’re going to try to figure out what the best combination is. That’ll take a little bit of time. You can’t do that too long because guys have to create a comfort level for themselves, but now is the time to mess around.”