The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrapped up their final training camp practice today, and it was the last practice open to the public. Players wore shells and shorts, and despite nearly an hour lightning delay, they still managed to get in some good work in preparation for the second preseason game against Miami on Saturday.
Emphasis was placed on getting the calls quickly from the sideline using hand signals and keeping the tempo high.
And there was a bit of game-planning, although not to the extent of what would be used in a regular season game or in Week 3 of the preseason.
“We went off cards today, we were going over Miami’s offense, defense and special teams. We have put a little bit or about the same as last week,” said head coach Lovie Smith.
Part of the beauty in assessing players individually in camp and the preseason is seeing how they react to the unexpected, which is why game preparations haven’t been extensive and typically aren’t for most teams in the league.
“Your basic rules should put you into position to make plays. You shouldn’t have to just look at 20 hours or 50 hours each day of video on them to be able to play well,” Smith said.
During 11-on-11s, quarterback Josh McCown aired out a 60-plus yard bomb to wide receiver Vincent Jackson along the left sideline for a touchdown, with neither cornerback Johnthan Banks nor strong safety Mark Barron anywhere close.
Quarterback Mike Glennon also chucked a massive deep ball to rookie wide receiver Robert Herron for a touchdown, and he did it against the first-string defense.
The punt return competition still remains up in the air, although the group of returners — Bobby Rainey, Eric Page, Skye Dawson and Robert Herron — has improved considerably. In fact, no punts hit the ground today.
Offensive Line Shuffling Continues
The Bucs continue to experiment with a variety of offensive line combinations. While Oniel Cousins continued to get first-team reps at left guard, Patrick Omameh got a look at right guard.
Jace Daniels, who got first-team reps earlier this week at right guard, and rookie Kadeem Edwards got work with the second-team.
“We’re more comfortable going into the Dolphins game right now, but you have to play the game,” said Smith, who’s continued to field questions about the unit.
“I’ve talked about giving guys an opportunity to show us what they have, so we’ll follow that same script. We realize that we need to get the five guys working together as soon as we can, but we’re going to go through the process as I’ve said also.”
Coach Smith was asked who the biggest surprise of training camp was for him. His response? Fullback Jorvorksie Lane, who may very well make the roster despite playing a position that few teams utilize anymore.
Lane, an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M in 2009, bounced around numerous indoor leagues before catching a break with the Miami Dolphins in 2012. He was waived by the team in August of 2013.
He signed with the Bucs in April.
“Big guy, great feet, can catch the football. I wanted to see if he could be a blocker too and he’s been that,” said Smith, who likened him to a tailback in a fullback’s body. “That’s one preseason game we’re basing that on, but that’s one guy I didn’t really know anything about but he showed up and is making his mark.”
The Bucs signed former first-round draft pick Larry English, hoping to help him revive a career that, thus far, had been marred by injuries while he was with the Chargers.
A 3-4 outside linebacker in San Diego, English will shift to defensive end in Smith’s 4-3 scheme.
“You can never have many too many outside, too many pass rushers in general,” said Smith.
“We talk about getting pressure with a four-man rush. I remember Larry when he played at NIU. Good football player. Injuries have kind of held him up a bit but he’s what we’re looking for — speed, edge rusher. I had a chance to see him work out yesterday. We feel like he may be able to give us something.”
Smith said the team will try to get him some reps against Miami. He was suiting up with the third-team defense.
Rookie running back Charles Sims was on the sideline in a walking boot and was officially ruled out of the game by head coach Lovie Smith.
Cornerbacks Alterraun Verner (hamstring) and Mike Jenkins (upper leg) were also ruled out.
Smith said that Verner, who returned to action this week, is on-schedule to see some action in Week 3.