After spending yesterday going over corrections from Miami and film for Buffalo, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned to the practice field Tuesday to begin installing their game plan for the third preseason game against the Bills. Since it’s a shortened week, they treated this day as they would a ‘Wednesday’ during the season.
It was a hot, up-tempo practice that began with positional drills and moved to special teams work in time to see a couple punt returns before the 30-minute media viewing portion of practice was over.
Rookie wide receiver Solomon Patton, who was recently promoted to first on the unofficial depth chart for both punt return and kickoff return duties, got the nod on punt returns.
“It’s based a lot on what happened last week as much as anything,” said head coach Lovie Smith after practice. “We’ve been taking a look at a lot of different guys and the ones that made something happen get another look. It’s kind of simple as that with him. We plan on giving him a couple of looks this week on both returns – kickoff and of course punts too.”
Offensively, the team continues to work the no-huddle, believing it will put pressure on opposing defenses to get their calls in quickly.
“Sometimes if you can build stressers into what you do, things that stress the defense that maybe doesn’t stress you, I think that’s a positive. I think probably the main is that is it pushes the tempo and it forces them to make decisions quicker and just for everybody to play faster,” said quarterback Josh McCown.
“Obviously paramount to that is being able to do that yourself, without letting it affect your execution. It’s a good tool to have, I don’t know how much we’ll do it, but it’s a good tool to have.”
McCown said he isn’t sure just how much the team will use no-huddle, but that it’s a useful tool to have as long as the team doesn’t go three-and-out.
“It does put a premium on converting, because you want to sustain drives and kind of inherent in playing that kind of ball is getting into rhythms and really pushing the tempo,” McCown explained. But it comes with its own set of challenges — mainly third down.
“For me that’s the biggest challenge is transitioning into third down because some of the things I’ve done in the past, I’ve not always kept the tempo going into third down. I think it’s a good thing because it’s a pressure down, but again if you talk about the things that tempo brings is the stressers it does to a defense, it may give you an edge.”
Alterraun Verner returns
Starting cornerback Alterraun Verner returned to practice today and participated on a limited basis. Verner missed portions of minicamp and training camp due to a hamstring injury. Head coach Lovie Smith said that the team will ease him back in slowly.
“No issues,” said Smith when asked how Verner’s hamstring held up in practice. “This is his first work, so it’s his first preseason game. I know I talked about how soon the season is coming up on us, but we have to be careful with that hamstring, which we’ll do.”
The plan has been to start giving him a couple of reps each period and slowly increase them throughout the week and see how he responds.
“I feel fine,” said Verner. “I wouldn’t say I’m one hundred percent though. We’ve got to do what’s best and see how I feel. If I do play, I can’t tell you how long. I’m going to play as long as they need me to play. I look forward to getting out there. Hopefully everything holds up so I can play.”
Defensive end Steven Means returned to practice after suffering groin injury.
Defensive end Michael Johnson missed practice with a knee bruise.
Defensive end William Gholston (shoulder), defensive end/defensive tackle Da’Quan Bowers (groin), cornerback Mike Jenkins (upper leg injury), strong safety Major Wright (back), running back Mike James (shoulder) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (ankle) all missed practice, along with running back Charles Sims, who underwent ankle surgery Saturday.