TAMPA, Fla. –- The toughest training camp the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have faced since Ray Perkins left more than 20 years ago is about to end.
Greg Schiano’s first camp as coach of the Bucs concludes Wednesday and I think it’s safe to say the collective-bargaining agreement that was put in place last year might have been the only reason his camp wasn’t quite as grueling as the ones Perkins ran when he was coaching the Bucs from 1987 through 1990. In those days, it wasn’t unusual for Perkins to put his team through three practice sessions a day (and the Bucs usually were worn out by October).
Schiano is playing by new league-wide rules that limit practice time, but it’s pretty obvious he pushed his team as much as possible. Schiano has said you have to “suffer’’ to build a successful team and the Bucs aren’t disputing that’s what they’ve done in recent weeks.
“Suffer, yeah,’’ wide receiver Mike Williams said with a big chuckle. “I don’t know what he means by suffer, but putting in the work, breaking us down lifting weights and then coming back and getting us ready to come off a practice, I guess that’s the suffer part. So I guess we did suffer.’’
The Bucs have put up with tough practices and the Florida heat, but they’re not complaining.
“Coach always talks about this heat is our friend,’’ defensive end Michael Bennett said. “It’s definitely becoming our friend and it’s going to be other people’s enemy. Right now, he’s showing us the way and it’s coming out pretty good, so I guess we have no choice but to follow.’’
In past years, in Tampa Bay and other places, coaches have thrown their teams a bone near the end of training camp. When his team was training in Jackson, Miss. a few years back, New Orleans coach Sean Payton skipped a practice and took his team to a water park. Former Carolina coach John Fox took his team bowling a couple of times.
When asked if some sort of “bonding’’ activity was planned for the final day of camp, Schiano didn’t sound like there was any rest or relaxation in the plans.
“Which player put you up to that?’’ Schiano said.
Programming note -- my Camp Confidential profile on the Buccaneers is scheduled to run Wednesday.