Today I was interested to see the one-on-one work between the offensive linemen and the defensive linemen. Unfortunately, to do so, I had to trudge all the way to the back practice field, where there's little shade and little else going on except for a few soccer games on an adjacent field at the Wide World of Sports facility.
But, that's my job — to go where everyone else won't during training camp.
Today I watched defensive tackle Chris Hovan take on the role of mentor to end Gaines Adams. This was a role I believed Simeon Rice would take on, but since he isn't here anymore, someone has to show the kids the ropes.
So Hovan and Adams worked together for about five minutes. The lesson today appeared to be on how to shed an offensive lineman's initial hand punch. Hovan would put his arm on Adams' shoulder and brace it against the rookie. Then Adams would have to take his opposite hand and try to knock the arm off, and then pass Hovan to that side.
It's a typical pass rush move ends use to get around a tackle or a tight end. In fact, it's pretty basic. But that's what training camp is for, right? The basics?
As for Adams, he showed the burst that I saw during mini-camp in June. He really does have a good first step off the line. His first run was against tight end Anthony Becht, and when Adams tried to pass him inside Becht just put him to the ground. The next time Adams went inside again, but this time he got around Becht and forced him to hold. One of the assets Adams had coming into the NFL was a variety of moves. He doesn't just need to sweep outside, but he proved he can when he blew by tight end Alex Smith on a later drill. He also slipped by Jerramy Stevens on the inside. For whatever reason, he did most of his work with tight ends in this drill.
Patrick Chukwurah, Adams' competition, appeared just as good. He's deceptively strong for his size (6-foot-1, 250) and has plenty of quickness. He went up against mostly second-team tackles like Donald Penn.
Afternoon update: Thanks to thunderstorms in Orlando, the Bucs moved their afternoon workout to the Omni Resort in ChampionsGate. They did about a 75-minute walkthrough in a spacious conference room.
It bordered on comical. We watched one period of practice and they were doing punt formation drills — without the punts. I was really hoping Josh Bidwell would launch one into the chandelier, just for grins. The carpet would be best described at American gothic, but it was certainly much softer than the artificial turf at the old Veterans Stadium in Philly.
And it was practice, so they had to film it. They got a hydraulic lift from the hotel to film the workout (such as it was). They even blew the air horn to signal the end of periods.
Derrick Brooks was there, after missing the morning workout with a hamstring issue. Of course, no one was doing much, so that's no indication that he'll work out on Sunday.
Chris Simms was supposed to get plenty of reps during that workout. He was supposed to get the majority of the reps in the final workout of mini-camp, which Jon Gruden canceled. Guess he can't catch a break.
The players could not get out of there fast enough. They made like the running of the bulls in Pamplona for the escalator to the team bus. One bolted so fast he tried to go up the down escalator.
And Monte Kiffin? He was jogging through the halls well after everyone had left. I thought he was working out (he's done that after several workouts I've watched).
"Are you trying to find the bathroom, Monte?" One of us asked.
"No, I'm trying to find the way out of here," he said.
So we pointed him in the right direction.
Quotable: "Some Mickey Mouse cop shooed me off." — A Tampa-area reporter, after he went out to the practice field to see if the Bucs were out there for the afternoon workout. Of course, at Disney, they're all Mickey Mouse cops. Or Minnie Mouse.
Musical interlude: Today's post-practice press conference, this time with Cato June, was interrupted by The Beatles' "Love Me Do" ring tone. If you're keeping score at home, it's The A-Team theme 1, The Beatles 1.
Interchangeable parts: With Derrick Brooks not in practice Saturday morning, Jamie Winborn took his snaps on the weak side with the first group. If you're wondering why June wasn't there, here's why — the position June played in Indianapolis' Cover 2 is essentially the strong side position he's playing now in Tampa. So the Bucs are not forcing him into a role he's not used to.
By the way, Cato is a family name in the June family.
"I go to family reunions and when someone says ‘Cato,' they're not talking to me," June said.
Kevin Carter worked with the first group at left end, as Greg Spires sat out the morning workout. Earnest Graham slid up to the second group in place of Michael Pittman, and Matt Lehr slid up to the first group in place of John Wade. None of them appear to be injured.
Arron Sears also worked at left guard with the first group in the morning in place of Anthony Davis, who I must admit I didn't see take a snap. That shouldn't be distressing. Offensive line coach Bill Muir likes to mix and match at this time of year.
And Joey Galloway worked out in the morning, but left early to catch a play for Columbus' Arena Bowl game tomorrow night in New Orleans. He's a co-owner of the Destroyers.
So, uh, Mrs. Garcia, uh, can I, uh, ask you a question?: Want to fluster a group of sports writers? Stick a Playboy Playmate in front of them.
That's what happened on Saturday morning at Buccaneers camp, as the former Carmella Decesare — the wife of quarterback Jeff Garcia and the 2004 Playboy Playmate of the Year — showed up at camp. She was dressed to kill in shorts and a, ahem, tight T-shirt.
They were married during the offseason.
Naturally, those of us in the media turned into a bunch of junior highers at the seventh-grade dance — you know the ones that stand over on one side of the room and are too shy to ask the girls on the other side of the room to dance. We eventually got over it and converged to ask her a few questions. She was thoroughly engaging, very friendly and actually told one reporter that she reads his articles all the time. He's a puddle of Jell-o somewhere on the practice field.
|Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia: Would you marry this man? (AP)|
"I was going to ask God this, but since you're here I'll ask you — how on earth did you two end up together?"
Fortunately, none of us were that crass. But let's hope Garcia wins the job. Imagine her in the wives' section every Sunday. The Fox cameramen would get whiplash.
Simms is a pure over-the-top passer, which seems to give the ball a particular spin. One thing he's struggled with in the past is ratcheting down his pass speed on short passes. He still seems to be throwing it in there with a lot of mustard to backs that are a few yards away. Sometimes that is warranted, but other times I think it gets him into trouble.
Gradkowski on the other hand, has a slightly slower release, but has better touch on short passes. He also has a strange look at the top. It's almost as if his palm is under the ball when he's ready to release. I'm sure it's an optical illusion, because no one can throw like that.
They both throw a good football, so embrace the difference, I suppose.
Man, it's hot out here: Who says coaches don't sweat. Linebackers coach Gus Bradley's shirt was completely drenched by 9:25 a.m., and he changed from a gray T-shirt to a white T-shirt by the end of practice.
The blocking team: I'm always surprised at which players are used on the field goal defensive unit, the guys trying to block the kick. Today I saw Ronde Barber, Kevin Carter, Barrett Ruud, Jermaine Phillips, Will Allen and Brian Kelly. Don't let anyone tell you special teams isn't vital. That's why all of these guys starters on this unit.
Job security: The most comfortable guy in camp has to be long snapper Andrew Economos. I think he's snapped the ball 15 times in three practices, and no one else is taking long snaps.
|Buccaneers long snapper Andrew Economos (AP)|
Strongman competition, anyone: Wide receiver David Boston has an impressive physique, even though his upper body seems a bit disproportionate to his lower body. But the guy has some guns.
Could Michael Pittman have competition for his title of Bucs' strongest man? Shouldn't we take a break this afternoon and have a flex-off? Can we get the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to officiate and offer the same witty commentary he offered on the collector's disc for "Conan The Barbarian?" (It's worth a rental just to listen to Arnold laugh when some guy gets kicked in the groin and he says, "Oh, I forgot about that! That's so funny!").
It's funny because it's not happening to you, Arnold.
Returning kicks, anyone?: Mark Jones, Chad Owens, David Boston, Carlos Hendricks, Chad Lucas and Kyle Smith all took kickoffs from the Jugs gun during the morning workout. No one had a drop. Jones and Owens are the candidates for the job.
Showing off the pass coverage skills: I was on the adjacent field watching the linemen, but linebacker Barrett Ruud did intercept a pass over the middle in coverage, showing off what the Buccaneers hope are his improved pass defense skills.
Catch of the day: Fourth-string quarterback Luke McCown showed off his arm, hitting David Boston on what appeared to be a 65-yard pass during 7-on-7 drills.
"It feels great," McCown said of the pass. "Big plays in this league with the amount of talent there is, are few and far between. When you can get one, that's a boost of confidence for everyone else and a momentum builder, whether it's a touchdown or not. You cover that much ground in one play and that puts a lot of pressure on the defense.
|Buccaneers WR David Boston (AP)|
Check in with BucsBlitz.com later today for an updated version of this story, complete with afternoon practice notes. Due to rain and lightning in Orlando, practice was moved to the Champions Game Omni Hotel.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Included among his more than two dozen writing and editing awards are national awards from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors, and state awards from the Florida Press Club and the Florida Sports Writers Association, for his coverage of the Buccaneers since 2004.