WE'RE BACK: The Buccaneers had couple of players return to practice on Saturday morning. MLB Jamie Duncan and QB Ryan Leaf both returned to practice after missing some significant practice time this week. Duncan was sidelined with a hamstring pull while Leaf was tending to family matters. Both of their absences from practice were excused.
Although the Bucs received Duncan and Leaf back, they were without S David Gibson (groin pull), CB Anthony Midget (hamstring), FS Dexter Jackson (hamstring) and RB/FB Rabih Abdullah. Gibson is expected to play on Monday night against Miami while Midget, Jackson and Abdullah are questionable.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES: Here are some quick hits from Saturday morning's special teams' drills between the Buccaneers and Dolphins.
TAKING IT TO THE HOUSE: When rookie Than Merrill came within inches of blocking Miami P Chris Hanson's punt, Bucs' fans thought all of the excitement was over. Well, Bucs' rookie WR Robert Kilow changed that when he fielded Hanson's punt, raced toward the sideline and cut across the middle of the field for a touchdown. Hanson gave chase to Kilow, but the Bucs' undrafted rookie wide receiver displayed tremendous speed on his way to the end zone.
PUNTERS STRUGGLE: Bucs' punters Andrew Bayes and Jason Malecki struggled on Saturday morning against Miami's punt rush. Bayes had two punts blocked and one tipped by Miami. Bayes was slow to get up off of the field on the tipped punt, but did get up after a minute and continued to participate. Neither punter was able to get good hang time on the ball due to the constant pressure Miami was putting on them with their punt rush. It was obvious Bayes and Malecki were hurried. The one bright spot for the Bucs' punters came when Malecki booted a 65-yard punt way over the head of the Miami return man for a touchback.
SCUFFLE: In Friday afternoon's practice Bucs' MLB Nate Webster and Miami RB Lamar Smith got into a little scuffle with each other. On Saturday morning, Bucs' WR Frank Murphy and Miami CB Zebbie Lethridge became entangled after a punt return, but were quickly separated.
KENYATTA CONTINUES TO IMPRESS: Rookie LT Kenyatta Walker played well against DE Jason Taylor on Friday, but Walker did even better against him on Saturday. Walker teamed up with LG Randall McDaniel to open up huge holes on consecutive plays for RB Warrick Dunn. Walker continued to handle Taylor in both individual and team drills.
A NEW LEAF? Bucs' QB Ryan Leaf had a descent showing against Miami's defense on Saturday. Since Leaf was absent from Friday's practice, it was the first time he went up against Miami's defense. In 7-on-7 drills, Leaf threw an interception on a pass he intended for his tight end. But Leaf made up for his earlier mistake when he threw a 20-yard strike to a leaping RB Warrick Dunn in the corner of the end zone for an impressive touchdown.
MURPHY IS MOVING ON UP: Wide receiver Frank Murphy ran with the first-team offense the entire morning on Saturday. Although WR Reidel Anthony and WR Jacquez Green dressed for Saturday's practice, they did not see much action. Murphy had another solid outing against Miami's defense. Most of his catches on Saturday morning came 5-10 yards off of the line of scrimmage. Murphy did an excellent job of fighting for the ball in traffic and running his route back towards the line of scrimmage for QB Brad Johnson.
KING SCRAMBLING: QB Shaun King took a lot of reps today, but more often than not, he was running out of the pocket in order to find his receivers. Miami's defensive line is very big. King has apparently had difficulty seeing over them, thus forcing out of the pocket to either scramble for yardage or find an open receiver. King benefit on scrambling in red zone drills when he scrambled toward the sideline and hit TE Todd Yoder in-between the numbers for a touchdown.
DEFENSIVE NOTES: The Buccaneers defense basically eliminated the Dolphins' receivers with tight coverage on Saturday morning, but QB Jay Fiedler took advantage of Tampa Bay underneath with his tight ends.
QUOTES AFTER SATURDAY MORNING'S PRACTICE:
Head coach Tony Dungy on his team's performance on Saturday morning. "I thought we were a little better than yesterday," said Dungy. "We seemed to be moving a little sharper, especially early in practice. In the last 10-minutes or so, I thought our offense made some mistakes and was not as sharp as they needed to be. It's great work going against Miami and we're going to benefit from it."
Bucs' DT Warren Sapp on a few of his comments from the past couple of days putting pressure on the Buccaneers this season: "I've already told you," said Sapp. "It's Super Bowl or bust. Everybody's in the same ship I'm in, so let's go."
Bucs' WR Keyshawn Johnson on practicing against the Dolphins. "It's alright," said Johnson. "It's good work, but realistically, you're getting an ok picture. It's good work and it's a change of pace."
Johnson on the Dolphins: "The Dolphins kind of remind me of a team that constantly competes, competes and competes, but then runs out of gas," said Johnson. "From the way they're were running around on the field out there, this just might be their year in the AFC."
The Buccaneers and Dolphins will hold one more workout together. It will be on Saturday afternoon from 4:00-6:00 p.m. ET at the University of Tampa's Pepin-Rood Stadium. The Buccaneers and Dolphins will play at 8:00 p.m. ET. on Monday night at Raymond James Stadium. This game, which is the Bucs' preseason opener, will be nationally televised by ESPN.
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