FC Tom Edrington was on site at Raymond James Stadium for Saturday's night practice.
This time next week we can stop arguing about who's looking good and who isn't. We will get a better idea if Gerald McCoy is ready to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. We'll know a little more about the 2012 version of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they will have faced the Miami Dolphins in their first preseason game.
For now, however, it was a little more of the same Saturday night at Raymond James. It was Buc on Buc. A little cooler, the setting was fancier, and the crowd was getting its vocal cords in shape for the season.
The place was mobbed early. Folks waited in line for the gates to open with the promise of two hours of autograph signings.
By the time 6:30 rolled around, there looked to be close to 25,000 in the stands, most crowded into the lower bowl of the west side in the shade as the team came out for warmups.
Nature played a cruel trick around 7 p.m. when dark storm clouds rolled in from the east. The team headed in, and there was a 35-minute storm delay.
Some of the crowd left. When the team came back around 7:35 p.m., there looked to be about 15,000 left.
Maybe, just maybe, if you believe in signs and omens, there was a promising one in the east sky—it was a double rainbow.
Head coach Greg Schiano had the headphones on for the first time, getting a feel for the home sideline.
The work on the field was more of the same for those of us who have sweated out multiple practices at One Buc Place.
Here are some quick overall observations for you:
Dallas Clark looks better every day. I don't think anyone's going to miss Kellen Winslow, really. Clark has great hands, and guess what—he can actually throw a block when needed.
Biggest "thump" of the night came when linebacker Quincy Black penetrated during an 11-on-11 play and confronted Doug Martin. Huge "WHUMP" sound, although Black kinda pulled the tackle, so to speak. If it was a "live" scrimmage, Martin might have been flattened and served up as a Sunday morning pancake. Talk about a size mismatch.
Three high-profile players sat this one out: free safety Ronde Barber, strong safety Mark Barron and defensive left end Michael Bennett. Now that Bennett has missed multiple practices, it's growing evident that he may have suffered some degree of concussion last week.
Donald Penn spent a lot of time on the sidelines on the stationary bike. He sat this one out but wasn't expected to participate while his strained calf is on the mend.
Safety Ahmad Black is making a strong case as a backup at safety.
Cody Grimm got more work in with Barber and Barron out. It will be important for Grimm to play well in the preseason games to make the roster.
Lo and behold, corner Eric Wright actually made some nice plays on defense. On probably his best day in camp thus far, he didn't show any effects from his lower back problems.
There were nice plays; there were sloppy plays. It's still very, very tough to judge when it's not full-contact football.
It's all simply a work in progress.
Afterward, Schiano said what he has said more than once during camp, with the concern for injuries always on his mind. "I think we got out of it with no major injuries, which was one of my concerns," he said at his post-practice press conference. "And it was good for us coaches to be on the headsets going through game situations."
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