FC Tom Edrington was on site for the fifth day of Buccaneer training camp.
Muhammad Ali might have been "The Greatest" but unfortunately day five of Tampa Bay Buccaneer training camp wasn't.
After getting a much-needed day off from the steamy practice fields on Tuesday, the team was back at it Wednesday morning, and the best description of what transpired over the 2.5-hour session came from head coach Greg Schiano afterward on 620 WDAE radio:
"We started out with fresh legs then we waned midway through the practice."
Pretty accurate. There was nothing special about this day. There was a decent cloud cover to make it tolerable unless you were in full pads. One player who didn't make it the entire way was starting left defensive end Michael Bennett, who became dizzy and was taken to the locker room. "Hopefully," Schiano said in his post-practice press conference, "it was just the heat, I'll know more later."
Rookie offensive lineman Mark Ingersoll went down with an apparent leg injury late in the session and was carted from the field. With about 30 minutes left, safety Mark Barron dinged himself during a positional drill and walked gingerly to the sideline. He stayed there and wasn't on the field for the final 11-on-11 and two-minute drills. He did stay out there, which means it wasn't anything serious.
Speaking of the two-minute drill, most of this practice had the team split up, and you could tell that they were doing "installation" of both the offense and defense. The team started working on situational football, Schiano said immediately after practice on WDAE 620's Ron and Ian show: "In seven or eight days we're gonna give 'em 95 percent of the package."
Your favorite linebacker?
With all that in mind, let's get down to the good and bad of day five:
The team wrapped up practice with the two-minute package. Mike Williams made a great catch for a touchdown. "That was an NFL play," Schiano later said in his WDAE interview.
Lavonte David made a nice interception of Josh Freeman. David is having an excellent camp. "He has a chance to be a special player," Schiano told Ron and Ian on 620.
Gerald McCoy has pleased Schiano. "He has elite 'get-off'," Schiano said in the post-practice presser. "We just need to keep working on developing his technique. He can be a special player." McCoy looked great after they took Carl Nicks out of the lineup. With Nicks in there, McCoy was held in check. Nicks vs. McCoy equals bad news for McCoy.
Corner Derrick Roberson and defensive lineman Gary Gibson returned to practice after missing a couple of days with minor injuries.
Rookie running back Doug Martin had a pair of fumbles. The second one drew a stern "teaching moment" from Schiano.
Vincent Jackson had an off-day. He had a couple of dropped passes.
Corner Eric Wright looked like he was in some discomfort during a position drill, but didn't leave the field.
Your favorite D-Lineman?
Former Buccaneer guard Ian Beckles, co-host of the Ron and Ian show on 620 WDAE, called defensive lineman Frank Okam "a slug." On the live broadcast, Beckles watched Okam then said after practice on the air: "He's a slug, all he does is get blocked. He doesn't make any plays. Anyone can get out there and get blocked. He's a blob. He's huge, but he's a blob."
Other day-five observations:
The reps for running backs are being distributed fairly evenly. Don't get all excited about these stories you read that tell you Martin is way ahead of LeGarrette Blount or anyone else. Martin is getting nice reps, Blount is getting nice reps and Mossis Madu is getting his share, as is Michael Smith.
You can tell the top four wide receivers by the reps they are getting: Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Tiquan Underwood and Preston Parker.
With Nicks out of the lineup, McCoy made a splash play in the backfield and earned a fist bump from Schiano.
The team got into a little "Oklahoma" drill early in practice. It was tough to tell who whipped who, but you could tell which side won by the reaction of the players. Nicks planted a defensive lineman—couldn't tell which one. Adrian Clayborn got buried by an O-lineman, no way to tell who did it. Kudos to whoever it was. It looked overall like this short session was a standoff, which is good news for the D-line.
Tampa Tribune NFL writer Ira Kaufman walked by the end-zone stands and a fan yelled out: "Hey Ira, I've got 'em 10-6, how 'bout you?" Kaufman responded "Eight and eight."
Overall, it wasn't that great, but it wasn't bad either. This is getting like "Groundhog Day." Mostly it's a grind, a real grind for the players and not all that entertaining for the fans, and there was a nice turnout for a weekday.
One thing's for sure—this team has a LOT of work to do.