FC Tom Edrington was on site for the third day of training camp, the first day in pads.
8:15 a.m.: It's early and the temperature is already pushing 85, there will be no friendly cloud cover today for the guys.
8:20: a.m.: A quick check in the merchandise tent. The new Nike jerseys are there. They have Mike Williams (19), Josh Freeman (5), LeGarrette Blount (27), Vincent Jackson (83) and only two left for Doug Martin (22). Is there a new favorite Buc in the house? By the way, they are $100. Holy Benjamins!
8:34 a.m.: First guys on the field are offensive linemen Brad Sowell (68), Ted Larsen (62) and Mike VanDerMeulen (74). Tight end Drake Dunsmore (81) is with them.
8:40 a.m.: The field fills up fast and it's time for some work, the boys are in full pads. It's gotta be hot under those helmets!
Of course there are drills, drills and more drills. But today is different. There is 11-on-11, quarterbacks calling plays in the huddle and the time clock is running. There will be some "resistance." There's blocking and rushing but no one is supposed to go on the ground today.
Let's cut to the chase and give you what you want. Here are the overall observations from the first day of "live" practice.
Greg Schiano set the tone early when he had the team circle up and they went through the well-known "Oklahoma" drills. Mano-a-mano, offensive lineman on defensive lineman. I can't figure out why they're called "Oklahoma" drills because Gerald McCoy played there four seasons and came into the NFL not knowing how to tackle properly.
Overall, the offensive guys got the better of the defensive guys. It was tough to see through the circle.
Josh Freeman is looking pretty good although he missed the mark with some passes today, especially when it was live, full speed. I wish Schiano would get one of those three-second clocks for the quarterback. The Packers just put one on their practice field. Freeman sometimes holds the ball too long. If you count past three, all bets are off.
Vincent Jackson is who he is. Lethal weapon No. 83. Tough to cover and impossible to cover with one guy. He WILL be double-teamed when regular season play starts which should really open things up nicely for the other receivers. Freeman LOVES throwing to him.
On one play, safety Ronde Barber crept into the box and came on a safety blitz, and Freeman lofted the ball high for Jackson who beat Aqib Talib. Don't panic, however, the corners are lining up in press coverage and no one will stop Jackson that way.
Receiver Tiquan Underwood continued to look good as did Preston Parker. Greg Ellingson made a nice diving catch over the middle but later dropped an easy one. That won't cut it. Underwood made one of the day's big gains when he beat Myron Lewis on a bomb from Freeman for a TD.
Doug Martin continues to look incredibly elusive. BUT, Martin did have a fumble and that is one thing Schiano WILL NOT tolerate, but more on that later.
LeGarrette Blount is catching the ball nicely out of the backfield.
Want to know who the weakest link is on the offensive line? Heck, everyone knows it's Jeremy Trueblood. Trueblood had an offside call on him (what a surprise) and he was immediately yanked out, replaced by Jamon Meredith. Trueblood later returned. Wonder if the o-line coach had a "teaching moment" with him?
The biggest moments of the day came from none other than defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Say what you want Gerald McCoy fans, but Clayborn looks every bit of the best d-lineman on the field. Underwood caught an underneath route from Freeman and BOOM, he got whapped and de-cleated by Clayborn. Sorry, no receivers or backs were supposed to be put on the ground but Clayborn's motor doesn't seem to gear down that easily.
Later in the proceedings, Clayborn blew up Erik Lorig when he caught a short pass from Freeman.
Clayborn is a beast!
Mason Foster looks so much more comfortable in the middle. The offseason will pay dividends for him, as he's moving around great and appears to have a good grasp of his assignments. Lavonte David and even Quincy Black fared well. Schiano would say later in his post-practice press conference that the linebackers are getting better each day. Good news.
Overall, here's how the first unit defense lined up:
Clayborn and Michael Bennett at the ends, McCoy and Roy Miller in the middle. David, Foster and Black are the linebackers, Talib and Eric Wright are the corners with Barber and Mark Barron at the safeties.
Second unit defense: E.J. Wilson and George Johnson at the ends, Amobi Okoye and Frank Okam in the middle, Dekoda Watson, Adam Hayward and Jake Cutrera at the linebackers, Anthony Gaitor and Myron Lewis at the corners with Larry Asante and Ahmad Black at the safeties.
And these tidbits:
Dan Orlavsky is a nice backup. He throws a really nice pass, he's accurate, can hum it in there when he has to and has a nice presence in the pocket. He did fumble one snap today.
Overall the running back corps look good. There will be a great competition there but I wouldn't get carried away and run around screaming that Martin has beaten out Blount for the starting position. I can already tell that Schiano HATES fumbles. Whoever fumbles first between those two will be watching the other one run while standing on the sideline.
In case you were wondering, Demar Dotson is starting at left tackle while Donald Penn rehabs his injured calf.
I spoke with a Tampa Fire and Rescue paramedic who told me he helped treat Mike Williams when he went down with those cramps. In addition to the hamstring cramp, he also had a bad abdominal cramp but Williams was back in action today and looking no worse for the wear.
The REAL highlight of day three was NO INJURIES and no serious cramping problems.
After practice, safety Cody Grimm spoke to WDAE 620: "Good work today. We got done what we needed to do. I've gotta prove myself to these new coaches."
After practice, Schiano, at his press conference on Buccaneers.com said: "Good day three."
He described some of the practice as "sloppy," stating, "there's a ton of stuff we have to work on. There were some missed assignments and some fumbles. The ball carriers CANNOT put the ball on the ground. Ball security has been good but it doesn't take many (fumbles) to ruin that. There's no reason for that ball to come out -- EVER!"
The next "can't miss" session for the Buccaneers will be next Saturday at Raymond James Stadium when they combine the night practice with FanFest. FanFest will start a 4 p.m., the night practice session will start at 6:30 p.m.
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