The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a break on Tuesday—a day off from the heat and humidity that is the 2012 training camp.
We've witnessed three of the four sessions and today, for your review, we present this Training Camp Notebook.
Coach Greg Schiano called Monday's practice: "The best yet," at his post-practice press conference on Buccaneers.com. "I felt the effort was outstanding. We cleaned some things up, got into some situational football."
Through four practices, Doug Martin is better than expected. He's running with the first team offense. This kid has serious skills. He's shown he can block in the backfield, he has great hands for the passing game and he is elusive. He'll turn five-yard gains into 10-yard gains; he'll turn 10-yard runs into 20s.
Can't wait to see him live.
Vincent Jackson is a complete weapon. He and Josh Freeman have some chemistry going on, and why not. How would you like to be throwing to a guy who is 6'5", 230 pounds, runs like a deer and has incredible soft hands?
Mike Williams will benefit from Jackson's presence. Williams is slimmer and moving better, making the catches he should make.
Demar Dotson has filled in nicely for Donald Penn. Don't forget, Dotson's huge, 6'9", about 320 pounds and he's getting coached-up from this staff. Schiano likes what he sees from "Dot."
Dallas Clark and Luke Stocker bring good skill sets to the tight end position. He's not known for his blocking, but Clark can block—we watched him in the tight end blocking drills and he's got enough technique to be effective as a blocker.
Most competition? Wide receiver and running back on offense.
Freeman's mechanics are vastly improved. He's getting better with each session. Dan Orlavsky is a quality addition at backup. He's worlds better than Josh Johnson as a passer.
The offensive line is supposed to look good and it does. Davin Joseph looks ready to go, Carl Nicks is a total behemoth, Jeremy Zuttah has pleased the staff with his play at center and let's hope someone steps up and really pushes Jeremy Trueblood—he IS the weakest link.
The defense isn't as bad as you might think, although no one has been really "tackled" yet with the exception of a couple of pass receivers on Sunday.
Adrian Clayborn is setting the tone. If he continues to progress, this could be a big year for him. The rest have to catch his energy. The Buccaneers MUST HAVE a pass rush this year or it will be a long season.
Lavonte David (Will), Mason Foster (Mike) and Quincy Black (Sam) are the first-team linebackers. They are picking up the defense, Foster looks so much more comfortable than he did as a rookie and he should. Schiano has spent a lot of time with his eyes on the defense and the linebackers in particular.
You get the feeling that Mark Barron is dying to HIT SOMEONE. They absolutely don't want this guy blasting anyone in camp. He looks incredibly big back there compared to the diminutive Ronde Barber.
Aqib Talib is working his butt off covering V-Jax. You read about him getting beat on long pass plays, but that is because they're having the corners line up in press coverage, putting them at an immediate disadvantage when they go seven-on-seven or 11-on-11.
In the base defense, they'll be giving the receivers room.
Eric Wright hasn't shown anything to get excited about.
Most heated competitions for roster spots on defense will be at corner.
Keep in mind, it's only four days. You ask how someone "looks"? Well, it's easy to look good in these circumstances. You will find out a lot more in about 10 days in the preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.
Until then, the best thing for this team is to go without any more injuries. The injury bug has bitten Arrelious Benn and E.J. Biggers in the same play and Penn hurt himself before camp opened. Penn should be fine, he's working out on the other fields with the conditioning coaches. Benn and Biggers are going to miss most of camp.
They're back at it tomorrow, and I'll be on site to bring you more news later in the day.