Buccaneers morning camp report: July 28

How did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fare on Monday morning at training camp? Find out here. Learn how QB Jeff Garcia looked in his first workout, which wide receiver had an off day, which cornerback had a great day and where the Bucs offense had some trouble. It's an exclusive from Bucsblitz.com.

Garcia's day: The starter returned from California last night and backup Luke McCown said Garcia definitely had "fresh legs." Garcia sprinted from station to station during the workout and took all of the first-team reps in 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 drills. His throws looked sharp, especially on the run. Head coach Jon Gruden was a bit more reserved about his performance, but it was obvious Gruden was glad to have him back.

So which quarterbacks suffered as a result of Garcia's return? Chris Simms and Josh Johnson. Garcia, McCown and Brian Griese divided the reps in 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 drills pretty evenly, leaving Simms and Johnson to their own devices. Certainly, the Bucs knew this would be an issue with five quarterbacks in camp. I'm sure after a few days Garcia will start getting some afternoons off, which will open the door for Johnson and Simms to grab some more reps. But, for now, the pair will have to be content with drills against air and whatever they can get off to the side.

And, I grade McCown slightly ahead of Griese in the backup race, though both threw interceptions on Monday.

Bank on Eugene: CB Eugene Wilson, who is playing on a one-year contract, continues to impress me. He made two great plays during 7-on-7 passing drills. First, he knocked a pass right out of WR Paris Warren's hands in the corner of the end zone, one that Warren certainly thought he had. Later, Wilson broke up a potential reception for WR Micheal Spurlock.

Wilson is having a great camp so far. He's playing with a great amount of precision and physicality. It's early, but his play may limit first-round pick Aqib Talib's playing time once the regular season begins. We'll see.

Paris isn't burning: Warren didn't exactly have a stellar day on Monday. First, he lost that touchdown pass to Wilson. During that same session, Warren had a pass go through his hands and appeared to run the wrong route on another play.

The Bucs like Warren, but he can ill afford to have those sorts of lapses this early in camp. Wide receiver is ultra competitive now, and at least four receivers — Ike Hilliard, Michael Clayton, Antonio Bryant and Maurice Stovall — appear to be having better camps. Throw in Joey Galloway, who missed Monday's workout again with a groin injury but is guaranteed a roster spot, and there aren't many spots left. You also have to figure either Michael Spurlock or Dexter Jackson will claim a spot as a returner.

Warren definitely has some ground to make up in the next few weeks.

Snap trouble: Johnson did muff a snap exchange during a running drill on Monday. There is no way the Bucs can expect Johnson to be their third quarterback. The hope is that the Bucs can convince Johnson to let them release him after the preseason and then re-sign him to the practice squad. They would then have to convince Johnson not to sign with another team, which he could do. Personnel executive Doug Williams — a player Johnson greatly respects — could help in that regard.

The Bucs are going to have a difficult time keeping four quarterbacks on the active roster, especially if they cannot address their return needs with just one player.

First day in pads: There was plenty of action on the field with it being the first day in pads, but there didn't seem to be any injuries. But Gruden was not impressed with the offense's work in the red zone and he had good reason not to be. Passes were dropped, routes were blown and the offensive line missed some protections.

It's to be expected that the offense would be behind the defense at this point in camp. But Gruden definitely wasn't impressed. Execution in the red zone has been a big issue with the Bucs the past few years, as they usually rank in the middle of the pack. Gruden wants to settle for fewer field goals inside the 20 this year.

Watch out for Bryant: So far, so good for WR Antonio Bryant. I was skeptical about the Bucs signing him, given that he was out of football last year and has never fulfilled the potential many had for him. But through three days he's made athletic plays on the field, including a touchdown catch on a corner route in which he fought off CB Ronde Barber. He's displaying the kind of talent that made him a second-round pick. He's a long way from making this team, though, and you need only look at David Boston and what happened last year to know that a problem player's career can change in a moment.

Punt returns: The players you would expect to field punts in special teams drills did so on Monday — Micheal Spurlock, Dexter Jackson, Clifton Smith and Ike Hilliard. They did no live returning, so no one grabbed an advantage in this session.

By the way, both P Josh Bidwell and PK Matt Bryant are in midseason form.

Two more picks: Both S Jermaine Philips and S Donte Nicholson picked off passes on Monday.

Quincy's coming: LB Quincy Black broke up a pass from behind to a tight end on Monday. Black, in his second year, is coming on strong, certainly faster than fellow LB Adam Hayward. The Bucs were always attracted to Black's raw speed and he hasn't disappointed in that regard. Where he now appears to have improved is in play recognition and pass coverage. He's not going to supplant Cato June on the strong side, but his play so far has validated his selection last year. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he ended the season with 20 or more special teams tackles.

Injuries: WR Joey Galloway (groin) and CB Torrie Cox (knee) missed the workout. Gruden did not update either's status. He did not report any other injuries.


Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of bucsblitz.com.


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