In the more restrictive world of the NFL, it's rare that the media gets a good look at offseason workouts, aside from training camp. On Thursday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the final day of their organized team workouts (OTAs) that week open to the media.
Just about every Bucs players was in attendance, despite the workouts being voluntary. This week's edition of Postscripts examines what was seen during the workout, position by position.
Quarterback: Luke McCown might as well have not even been there. He didn't take a single snap during the workout. Neither did Zac Taylor, an undrafted free agent, but that was to be expected. McCown — who was the backup to Chris Simms before his knee injury last year — is a surprise. While Jeff Garcia and Simms are competing for the starting job, most believed Bruce Gradkowski and McCown were competing for No. 3. It's possible that McCown took reps earlier in the week. Or it's possible that head coach Jon Gruden is determined to make something out of Gradkowski at all costs. Tampa Bay may carry four quarterbacks to training camp, and McCown may be one of them. But he may not get a fair shake during training camp, thanks to Gruden's obvious affection for Gradkowski.
Also, the shotgun appeared just one time Thursday — and it was a fake. Simms started in the shotgun, then called some signals and then got under center. It's hard to say if that means something when you've only seen one workout.
And, Gruden apparently tipped his hand at a Tampa Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Friday. He called Garcia the "leader in the clubhouse" at the position, according to the Tampa Tribune. He also said Simms would "make things interesting" during training camp. This in spite of the fact that Simms saw most of the first-team reps on Thursday and for most of the offseason.
Running backs: Not much to it. Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman both ran well during workouts. And the Bucs used Pittman for some razzle-dazzle in one drill. He took a handoff and ran right, stopped and threw it across the field to Garcia, who then threw a touchdown pass to Mark Jones. You'll probably never see that in a game, though.
Wide receiver: Reps were split pretty evenly, though some vets took some drills off, like Joey Galloway. He did, however, score a touchdown off a wonderful misdirection play. Every player on the line of scrimmage moved right on the snap of the ball, and Simms threw a sharp pass to Galloway on a slant. Upon catching it, Galloway cut immediately to the left, fooling just about everyone on defense and trotting to the end zone. Michael Clayton, in particular, saw a lot of work, and he no doubt needs it.
Tight ends: Jerramy Stevens at least looks good in pads. Can't say much about him as a player based on Thursday because the tight ends didn't see much of them as a unit. The Bucs did use Stevens and Alex Smith split wide to each side in a four-wide receiver set and will probably never see a regular-season game. But that's Gruden's offensive mind hard at work.
Offensive line: At one point the Bucs had, from right tackle to left tackle, Jeremy Trueblood, Davin Joseph, John Wade, Anthony Davis and Luke Petitgout on the field together. At this point, I'd say this is the starting line the Bucs will take into training camp. The one position on this line that's in play is left guard, where Davis is now. Rookie Arron Sears will push him and might supplant him. I didn't see Dan Buenning or Matt Lehr, considered Wade's competition at center, doing much during team drills. It's almost impossible to determine how well a unit is blocking during these OTAs.
Jovan Haye, the third-year tackle out of Vanderbilt, saw a lot of time at under tackle on Thursday. You can add him to the crowded mix of players the Bucs are looking at there. He appeared to have a pretty good grasp of the scheme. One player expected to compete there too, Ryan Sims, worked at Chris Hovan's nose tackle position. It's easy to see why the Bucs want Sims to lose some weight. He's listed at 315, but the 6-foot-4 lineman ambled around as if he was carrying about 15 more pounds. During one 11-on-11 drill, Sims' belly shook as he ran in pursuit of a ball carrier. There are some pretty good wrestlers over in Brandon that could probably show Sims how to lose that weight.
Linebacker: At one point the Bucs had just two linebackers on the field — Cato June and Barrett Ruud. It was an obvious nickel package and it may be a nod to those two players, whom the Bucs believe are their best coverage backers. Derrick Brooks was dressed but did not participate. The use of June and Ruud in obvious coverage plays could help Brooks, who could conserve energy for the 16-game grind of the regular season. I also heard from one writer that the Bucs could use some 3-4 this year. That would also be another obvious effort to get June on the field, as he is probably the team's fastest linebacker. Either way, the Bucs are going to find creative ways to get June on the field.
Defensive backs: Coach Raheem Morris seem to have taken on Alan Zemaitis as a pet project. The first drill I saw was a half-field drill in which backs were working on staying inside receivers. Zemaitis didn't get a break the entire drill, and Morris went back and forth with positive reinforcement and corrections in form. Zemaitis needs to make progress this season after not taking the field as a rookie in 2006. And Kavlin Pearson seemed happy that he and the Bucs had agreed to a new one-year deal. He saw plenty of work at safety.
Special teams: With Dave Moore retired, the prohibitive favorite to take over at long snapper is Andrew Economos. He handled snaps during field goal and punt drills on Thursday. Economos is listed as a long snapper, so he's vulnerable if another player on the team can show they can snap and play another position. The only other player I've seen even practicing special teams snaps the past two years is Jeb Terry (who himself is on the bubble). It's Economos' job to lose. Matt Bryant spent a lonely day kicking field goals by himself until the day's final drill.
Coaching Gruden was his usual self among the players. He didn't speak much to the media, aside from answering a couple of questions about Moore. The bigger news during the week was his family's move to the exclusive Avila neighborhood in Tampa and into a house worth more than $3 million, according to the Tampa Tribune.
Gruden might want to wait on decorating until after this season. It may not be his house for long.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and for the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Charlotte Harbor, Fla.