The majority of Bucs players have been participating in voluntary workouts at the team's headquarters -- One Buc Place -- this offseason, and the players who participated on Thursday received a treat as Gruden and Co. moved the team's practice a few miles down the road to their other home -- Raymond James Stadium.
Thursday's practice featured game-like elements. The field was decorated with fresh white paint for the yard, sideline and end zone markers. Bucvision, which consists of the team's two replay boards located in both end zones, was live. Even the pirate ship's cannons exploded after players scored touchdowns. The only thing missing was the 65,000-plus fans that normally pack Ray-Jay for every Bucs game day.
Several Bucs players had their moments during Thursday's practice, but wide receiver Frank Murphy shined the most after scoring not one, but two touchdowns. To Murphy's surprise, the pirate ship fired its cannons after each of his two scores. Needless to say, Murphy didn't object.
"We were just getting a feel for what we're going to play in and I think it was a good idea," said Murphy of the team practicing at RJS. "I don't know how often we'll do it, but I hope we do it again."
Murphy's teammates weren't the only ones that watched him stroll into the end zone twice. Free agent WR Keenan McCardell observed the team's practice on Thursday and got a good idea of what life could be like as a Buc.
McCardell spent part of both Wednesday and Thursday meeting with the Bucs. On Wednesday night, a group of prominent Bucs players, including strong safety John Lynch and defensive tackle Warren Sapp, wined and dined with McCardell at Malio's, an upscale restaurant in Tampa. Gruden's troops have apparently followed through on his request for his veteran players to help court McCardell earlier in the week.
So, did the Buccaneers pull out all of the stops for McCardell or was it merely a coincidence that the much sought-after receiver was in town on the same day that Tampa Bay decided to hold a practice at Ray-Jay for the first time since before the stadium opened its doors to the public in 1998?
You be the judge.
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