Bucs And Dolphins Conclude Scrimmage Sessions

August 11 - Tampa Bay and Miami held two consecutive days of practices against each other over the weekend. While the joint practices were a bit different than the ones held under former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden was pleased with his team's performance.

It wasn't the knock down, drag out slugfest that everyone expected when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins met for their annual weekend scrimmage in Orlando. Even though there wasn't the hitting that we've come to know when the Bucs and the Fish get together head coach Jon Gruden was very happy with the performance. He was happier with the way each team composed themselves in the three scrimmages.

"It was very important," Gruden stated. "I think both teams did a good job of maintaining that etiquette. They knew we were here to get work done. It was business trip and I think we both benefited practicing with a solid etiquette."

The special teams went four plays each on punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return. The most surprise event of the session was that reserve kicker Rob Hart kicked off barefoot. Shades of Tony Franklin for the Philadelphia Eagles. Punter Tom Tupa had the best punt of the day but he is still locked in a battle with David Leverton for the punting duties.

Aaron Lockett had a chance to show off his blazing speed on punt return. He caught a low line drive in space and was gone like a blur to the house. On kickoff return, Frank Murphy had the best showing on kickoff returns but nothing of the spectacular.

The rest of the time the Bucs offense ran about 20 plays against the Pewter Pirates defense. Then the team worked on its pregame ritual that they will do on Monday night. Basically, a walk through practice.

One of the players that is thankful to be in Tampa Bay is running back Michael Pittman. After four seasons in Arizona of habitual losing No. 32 made the move east and is very happy with his decision.

"The biggest change from Arizona to Tampa Bay is the talent," Pittman stressed. "We have a lot of talent on this team. A lot of players from other team respect Tampa Bay and a lot of teams don't respect Arizona. When I was in Arizona and we played another team they knew they were going to beat us. Here, in Tampa Bay, we have a great team and, if we put everything together, we can make it really work. I would have stayed in Arizona but I was ready to win. I was tired of losing and having losing seasons. I thought a change was going to be the best for me. Coming to Tampa Bay, I think, will be a great change for me."

Will the Bucs throw the playbook at the Dolphins Monday night? Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson doesn't think so.

"There are some things that we won't run against them if we were going to play them," Johnson confessed. "Especially if we see that it's not working against them now. Then we need to make some adjustments. Getting an opportunity to take a look at another defense helps us in the future."

There you have it. Two teams that just can't wait to strap it on and go at it on Monday night. Let the games begin.


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