Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2014 NFL Training Camp Report

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 15

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Training camp ended for the Buccaneers the exact same way it started -- with electricity in the air. No, really, there was electricity in the air. Lightning first interrupted practice for an hour and then brought it to a premature end. The same thing happened on the first day. Between the first day and the last day of camp, the Bucs had no other interruptions or cancellations. They broke camp Thursday and coach Lovie Smith said he was pleased with how things went. But Smith also said he's looking for an improved performance in the second preseason game, Saturday night against Miami. "The rain cooperated with us throughout camp," Smith said. "I think every day there's been a threat of thunderstorms and lightning. But, for the most part, we've been able to get everything in. I feel like we've had a good camp. We realize what's at stake this week. We want to play a lot better. Any time you get to start off in front of your fans at home, that's kind of special." While they still were able to practice, the Bucs worked in shorts and shells and did some game planning for Miami.
  • Smith said cornerback Alterraun Verner, cornerback Mike Jenkins and running back Charles Sims have been ruled out for Saturday night. Verner and Jenkins are recovering from hamstring injuries. Smith said Sims has an ankle injury and the running back was wearing a boot on the sidelines.
  • The Bucs took a bit of a low-risk gamble by signing defensive end Larry English. Coming out of Northern Illinois in 2009, English was the 16th overall pick in the 2009 draft. But English never has lived up to his potential. The Bucs have nothing to lose by taking a look at English. "You can never have too may pass-rushers," Smith said. "We talk about getting pressure with a four-man rush. I remember Larry when he played at NIU. A good football player. Injuries have kind of held him up a little bit. But he's what we're looking for, a speed, edge rusher. We feel like he might be able to give us something." The Bucs released Jibreel Black to make room for English.
  • Smith said the starters will play into the second quarter Saturday night. He said it's likely the starters will get double the amount of snaps they did in the preseason opener against Jacksonville.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Coach Lovie Smith pulled a bit of a surprise and put an unexpected end to the training camp portion of the preseason Tuesday. The Bucs are off Wednesday. When they return Thursday, they’ll be practicing without pads and preparing for Saturday night’s preseason game with Miami. Smith said he was pleased with camp overall. “I thought it was good," Smith said. “We practiced in the heat of the day most of the time. It’s draining. It’s draining just going through a walk through in Tampa. But the guys got through it. We haven’t had any major injuries. We felt we got about the proper amount of physical contact that we need to get ourselves in position to play the game. I like the work that we’ve done. Most of the guys have made a lot of progress throughout. We just need to kind of take steps now. We want to see improvement in the games."
  • Smith singled out several under-the-radar players that have given themselves a chance to make the roster with strong training camps. He mentioned fullback Jorvorskie Lane, linebacker Danny Lansanah and defensive lineman Scott Solomon. Smith also said rookie receiver Robert Herron has come on strong in recent days after having some problems holding onto the ball earlier in camp.
  • Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was given most of the practice off. Smith said that was a coach’s decision and a reward for a strong camp by McCoy. Nose tackles Clinton McDonald and Akeem Spence each got some work at McCoy’s three-technique position.
  • Tuesday was “legends" day. The Bucs welcomed 50 former players to watch practice. That was a nice gesture and a change from former coach Greg Schiano, who didn’t always welcome former players. “I think we’ve made it known that they’re welcome," Smith said. “Not just on legends day, but any day coming back to their football team. What we’re doing, we hope that they see, is we’re trying to get it back. Most of the guys that came here had success while they were here, and that’s what we plan to do."
  • The Bucs signed defensive end T.J. Fatinikun.
  • There is no practice Wednesday. The Bucs are scheduled to practice Thursday at 2 p.m. Although Smith isn’t calling it training camp anymore, the practice still will be open to the public, team officials said. This will be the last open practice of the preseason.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Prior to Monday, the Bucs had a remarkable streak good weather during practices. The first practice of camp was interrupted and cut short by lightning. But there hadn't been any issues since then -- until Monday. A heavy rainstorm moved in with about 50 minutes left in the scheduled practice time. There was no lightning, so the Bucs kept practicing. They did cut practice about a half hour short by cutting some work on special teams and the two-minute drill. But coach Lovie Smith said it was important for his squad to get some work in the rain. "Guys know that's a part of life down here," Smith said. "Every day we've gone out to practice there's been the threat of rain. That's what we use it for. You try to prepare for the season. Odds are we're going to have a couple of wet days, so you have to take advantage of it."
  • The Bucs had been bringing rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins along very slowly. He still was listed as fourth string on the latest depth chart, which came out Monday. But it was obvious from Monday's practice that Seferian-Jenkins was getting a lot of work with the first team. "He's warranted more time moving up through the ranks," Smith said. "He's got a great future ahead of him. He's got good size, he can still work on his blocking, he has excellent hands, so he's in our plans."
  • Smith made it quite clear that special teams will play a heavy role as the team cuts down its roster in the coming weeks. "If you're one of our starters, you have an idea probably if you are or not," Smith said. "If you're not, it has to be more. It has to be about special teams too. Skill positions -- wide receiver, tight end, running backs, corner, linebacker, those backup positions you have to have special teams value also." That's why I keep saying wide receiver Tommy Streeter, who's had an excellent camp, isn't a shoe-in to make the roster because he's not a regular on special teams.
  • Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, defensive end Steven Means, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, Jenkins and cornerback Keith Lewis missed practice due to injuries.
  • The Bucs are scheduled to practice at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The players will be off Wednesday and the final practice of training camp is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • After a disappointing performance in the preseason opener against Jacksonville, the Bucs shook up their offensive line in Sunday’s practice. The Bucs moved Jace Daniels, who was on the practice squad last season, up to the first team in place of Jamon Meredith at left guard. Oneil Cousins remained with the first team at right guard. Coach Lovie Smith said the Bucs will continue to experiment with their guards. “In order to eventually get to the first team, you have to play with the first team,’’ Smith said. “You have to do some good things in practice. Jace has been doing that throughout, whether it be at center or guard. Jamon didn’t play as well as he needed too. We realize he can play guard and tackle, so we’re going to let him concentrate a little more at the tackle position and get that next group of guards an opportunity. Jace is the next guy.
  • Rookie wide receiver Robert Herron, who has struggled at times during camp, had perhaps his best day of practice Sunday. Herron had several nice catches. “That’s how he’s been,’’ Smith said. “He’s shown flashes throughout. In the game, one great play and dropped another. A lot of that is normal rookie play. I try to concentrate on those plays where he has caught the ball and some of the quickness we’ve seen throughout. In time, he’s going to be a pretty good football player.’’
  • The Bucs had some good news on the injury front. Safety Dashon Goldson has been brought along slowly, is expected to play in Saturday’s postseason game against Miami. Cornerback Alterraun Verner, who has been out with a hamstring injury since the third day of camp, returned to practice and participated in individual drills.
  • Cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and defensive end Steven Means (groin) sat out Sunday’s practice.
  • The Bucs are scheduled to practice at 4:30 p.m. ET Monday.
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Wednesday's practice was noticeably different than recent sessions. "We've been hitting it pretty hard, weather and all of that," coach Lovie Smith said. "We've got a game coming up and we want the guys to be fresh, so we took the pads off today. We got some good crisp work done." The Bucs had worn pads in the previous eight practice sessions. But they went in shorts and shells on Wednesday. There was no hitting, but there still was a lot of action.
  • Safety Dashon Goldson had been having a quiet camp. The Bucs were bringing him along slowly after offseason ankle surgery. Goldson had missed some practices earlier in camp, but he looked sharp on Wednesday. He made a diving interception on a pass that was overthrown by quarterback Josh McCown.
  • Smith said he's glad the preseason is almost here. The Bucs open the preseason Friday night at the Jacksonville Jaguars. “You can only hit your teammate so hard and really let go," Smith said. “I'm anxious to let our defensive linemen go. You haven't seen us with any blocks below the waste and just being able to finish plays."
  • Smith said he didn't want to reveal how much his starters will play against the Jaguars until he had a chance to tell the players. But Smith threw out a pretty strong hint that the starters will play roughly a quarter. He said his general rule is the same as many other coaches. He likes to start off slowly and gradually increase playing time until the starters play into the second half in the third preseason game. Smith said not to expect much of the starters in the final preseason game. “I'm totally sold on that ladder leading up to get ready for the first game," Smith said. “We're going to stay with that no matter what."
  • Smith revealed that offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford will call plays from the coaches' booth. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will work from the field.
  • Cornerbacks Alterraun Verner and Mike Jenkins sat out practice with hamstring injuries.
  • The Bucs will not practice Thursday. They'll be traveling to Jacksonville for Friday night's game. They'll be off Saturday and they'll return to practice Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The camp with no controversy finally had a little bit Tuesday; just a little. It came during a goal-line drill at the end of practice. There was a play where running back Doug Martin ended up very near the goal line. Martin and the rest of the offensive players signaled it was a touchdown. But the team was divided. The defensive players said Martin came up short. “There’s no replay," coach Lovie Smith said. “I have final say and I thought it was good." Smith said he was pleased with the offense’s showing in the goal-line drill. “Last time we went goal line I thought the defense kind of got the better of it," Smith said. “I thought the offense came back out there strong today down there. We’ve got to get touchdowns when we get down there. We say we want to have balance. We’ve got to be able to run the ball, especially in those types of situations."
  • Although cornerback Alterraun Verner (hamstring) has missed most of training camp and been ruled out of Friday’s preseason opener at Jacksonville, Smith said he’s not all that concerned about the veteran missing so much practice time. “You can’t do much about it," Smith said. “I’ve seen too many good football players miss time in training camp. I think it has very little bearing on what happens later on. He’s been through a lot of work with us. We feel pretty confident that he’ll be able to get our defense down and be able to play at a high level."
  • The first unofficial depth chart of the year came out Tuesday, but Smith had some words of caution. “Don’t put too much into the depth chart," Smith said. “The league says we have to put out a depth chart today, so we put out a depth chart today. The depth chart will mean a little bit more once we play a football game against someone else." The initial depth chart was generous to the veterans and sold some rookies short. Receiver Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins continue to get some work with the first team, but they were listed as backups on the depth chart.
  • A couple of guys that have had trouble catching the ball came up with nice catches Tuesday. Rookie Robert Herron had a nice catch in traffic. Running back Jeff Demps made a nice catch on a deep pass from Mike Glennon. Demps also had a nice run.
  • The Bucs signed defensive ends Ryne Giddins and James Ruffin. Linebacker Jeremy Grable and safety Mycal Swaim were waived.
  • The Bucs will practice at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The session is closed to the public.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 9

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The Bucs continue to experiment with their defensive linemen. They've been giving defensive end Adrian Clayborn some work at defensive tackle. “He's been taking reps all throughout,'' coach Lovie Smith said. “We want to see what players can do. Sometimes a defensive end is a lot quicker and you can get him inside and get a lot of plays when they get against some of the bigger, slower interior lineman. We're a new staff and we want to give guys a chance to show what they can do at as many positions as possible.''
  • The Buccaneers worked on something they didn't have a chance to do much of last season Monday night. They worked on having a lead late in the game. The offense worked on running out the clock. At the same time, the defense worked on trying to get the ball back.
  • Linebacker Brandon Magee drew the wrath of wide Vincent Jackson. Magee hit running back Mike James after he was clearly out of bounds. Jackson, a captain last year, got in Magee's face and gave him an earful.
  • With Verner and Jenkins out, Danny Gorrer has been getting a lot of first-team work at cornerback. Gorrer also is a candidate for the nickelback job.
  • The play of the day was a pass that Josh McCown drilled to Vincent Jackson in traffic.
  • The Bucs waived wide receiver David Gettis with an injury settlement and signed former University of South Florida safety Mark Joyce.
  • The Bucs are scheduled to practice at 4:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 8

August, 3, 2014
Aug 3
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The offense was having a pretty strong practice Sunday evening. But that changed when the Bucs worked on goal-line situations at the end of practice. It was the first time the Bucs have worked on those situations and the defense clearly won. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had two stuffs and strong safety Mark Barron had a big stop. “Once you get down to the red zone, speaking offensively, you’ve got to get touchdowns,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. “The ball’s on the 2-yard line, you’ve got to get a touchdown every time. For the defense to hold them out, it shifts momentum quite a bit. I saw the defense pick it up. You can hide a little bit, but down on the goal line you can’t hide. You show your true colors down there. I liked some of the things I saw.’’
  • Cornerback Alterraun Verner was one of Tampa Bay’s biggest signings in free agency. But he has yet to practice this camp due to a hamstring injury. “It’s not an ideal situation,’’ Smith said. “You come in new, we want him out there every snap, especially a day like today -- those are the times when the defense really becomes one when you’re down on the goal line with your backs up against the wall like that. We brought Alterraun in to do what he’s been doing for a long time. That’s the reason we signed him to a contract. It’s not an ideal situation. It puts us back a little bit, but that’s a part of it. You have injuries. He’ll be back out there. We still have a little bit of time.’’
  • Smith attended Derrick Brooks’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday night. Smith’s flight arrived back in Tampa at about 4 a.m. Sunday and he came straight to One Buc Place to get ready for Sunday’s work. “We set up our schedule,’’ Smith said. “We knew it would be a quick turnaround. We got plenty of sleep. We slept on the plane all the way back.’’
  • Rookie Robert Herron continues to struggle on punt returns. Herron dropped another punt Sunday. But Smith isn’t overly concerned about that. “He’s a rookie,’’ Smith said. “He’s not our returner that we plan on opening the season with, but you start the process. I’ve seen improvement from him. You hate whenever they drop them, but they do from time to time. He is getting better.’’
  • The Bucs are scheduled to practice at 4:30 p.m. ET on Monday.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 7

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Early in camp, the defense clearly was ahead of the offense. That’s not the case anymore. The offense had a good showing at Friday night’s practice at Raymond James Stadium. The first- and second-team offenses each drove for successful field goals in the two-minute drill. “It’s about scoring points, and that’s what the offense was able to do," coach Lovie Smith said. “Somebody can’t look good in that situation. Most games come down to that two-minute drive at the end of the game. (Quarterbacks) Josh [McCown] and Mike [Glennon] both did a great job with us."
  • Many fans had to be pleasantly surprised by their first look at coordinator Jeff Tedford’s offense. It didn’t look nearly as conservative as what the Bucs have run in recent years. The play of the night was a trick play. Running back Mike James took a pitchout and threw a touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson. The deep passing game also looked good, with Chris Owusu catching a long touchdown from Glennon in an 11-on-11 drill.
  • Center Evan Dietrich-Smith missed practice with a foot injury, and his absence was obvious. The one blemish for the offense was that three snaps between center and quarterback were botched. “One time on the ground is too many," Smith said.
  • The practice drew just under 15,000 fans, according team officials. “It’s a fanbase that deserves to see a good football team on the field, and we plan on giving them that," Smith said.
  • The Buccaneers have the day off from practice Saturday. Smith and many team employees will travel to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, to attend the induction ceremony for Derrick Brooks. The team will return to practice Sunday at 4:30 p.m. “All week, I’ve been thinking about Derrrick going in," Smith said. “I can’t wait to get up there tomorrow. A special day for him. You know Derrick Brooks. Who deserves to be in the Hall more than him? It’s a special time for his family, and we can’t wait to get there.’’

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • There might not be a player on the roster who has been more maligned than defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. A second-round pick in 2011, Bowers has contributed very little in his first three seasons. But it sounds like Bowers is making the most of a fresh start with a new coaching staff. Coach Lovie Smith continues to sing Bowers' praises. Smith isn't saying Bowers is going to suddenly turn into a superstar. But he is saying Bowers can be a valuable role player as a guy who can play defensive end and defensive tackle. "As a general rule, we'll normally carry three inside guy and three outside guys (on the game-day roster)," Smith said. "That's six. You'd like that seventh guy to be able to do both. That's what you have in a player like Da'Quan. He's big enough to rush inside on third downs and a good anchor outside on first down. It gives us some flexibility."
  • The Bucs worked the 2-minute drill for the first time this camp Thursday. "That's always fun," Smith said. "About half the games come down to what you do at the end of the game in a 2-minute situation, that last drive determining the outcome of the game. It's important that we convert on the offensive side and on the defensive side play smart ball. There's no better time to take the ball away. We did some good things on both sides of the ball."
  • Smith had the line of the day when asked if Thursday's practice didn't seem as intense as Wednesday's. "Sometimes it's not your wedding night," Smith said. "It's just a normal day that you go through. It was business at hand today. There wasn't as much false chatter. But, still, we got good work. Some days, you just have to keep grinding one play at a time and that was the case today. We'll pick it back up tomorrow."
  • The Bucs continue to be banged up at cornerback. Mike Jenkins was added to the injury list Thursday. Jenkins sat out practice with a leg injury. Fellow cornerbacks Alterraun Verner and Rashaan Melvin have missed the last several days.
  • Rookie Robert Herron got some work with the first team as a slot receiver. But Herron had a drop, which isn't going to help his chances of significant playing time.
  • The Bucs will hold their first -- and only -- camp practice at Raymond James Stadium on Friday. The practice will start at 7:30 p.m and is open to the public at no charge. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow night," Smith said. "It's one thing to practice on the practice field. When you go to the stadium, it's a different feel. Our players are excited about getting the feel for Raymond James Stadium. For a lot of them, it will be the first time going out there."

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 5

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The defense dominated the first few days of camp, but Wednesday was the best showing by the offense so far. There were two players in particular that stood out. Quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Vincent Jackson showed they’ve developed some chemistry. They hooked up on a pass play of about 50 yards and connected for back-to-back touchdowns in red-zone drills. “They have to have good chemistry," coach Lovie Smith said. “Vincent’s our No. 1 receiver. We’re banking on him making a lot of plays. The chemistry or whatever you want to call it between he and Josh has to be good. Vince is a playmaker. You get down there, you have to get the ball into your playmaker’s hands. We did that today on more than one occasion, which is great." McCown had his best practice by far. I only saw him make one bad throw, and that was intercepted in the end zone by strong safety Mark Barron.
  • Wednesday was the most physical practice of camp so far. There were at least four minor altercations. “We don’t want a lot of fights," Smith said. “In a game, they throw you out of the game and that’s not good. Getting ready for the season, we want it to be as game like as possible. If you do feel you have to mix it up with a guy, fight him the way you would fight your brother. No cheap shots or anything like that."
  • There’s been some concern among fans about whether or not Mason Foster can handle the increased amount of pass coverage the Bucs are going to ask out of their middle linebacker in the Cover Two defense. Foster dropped some weight in the offseason to increase his quickness and has made a good early impression on Smith. “He’s growing into the position," Smith said. “He couldn’t have a better tutor than (linebackers coach and former Bucs middle linebacker) Hardy Nickerson."
  • Starter Doug Martin has looked very good at running back, but he’s not the only one. Third-round draft pick Charles Sims has made some nice cuts in the last few practices and also has shown he can catch the ball out of the backfield. I think Sims might have a shot to be the top backup to Martin. “He’s a scholarship player, looking at it in college terms," Smith said. “He’s not a walk-on. He got his scholarship for a reason."
  • There hasn’t been much talk about the fullback position. For the record, Jorvorskie Lane has been running with the first team.
  • The Bucs signed cornerback Kip Edwards to fill the roster spot that was created when guard Carl Nicks departed from the team. The team officially released Nicks on Wednesday.
  • Cornerback Alterraun Verner missed another day of practice with a hamstring injury, but Smith said Verner is getting closer to being able to return.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 4

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The most intriguing player in Tampa Bay's camp is running back Jeff Demps. The Bucs clearly are enchanted by the speed possessed by the former Olympic sprinter. There have been a few moments when Demps has looked like he could turn out to be a very special player. But there also have been some moments where his hands haven't looked as good as his feet. I saw Demps drop two passes and a kickoff return in Monday's practice. If Demps is going to make the roster, he has to show he can catch the ball consistently.
  • Speaking of kickoff returns, it looked like the Bucs were auditioning half their roster Monday. When the Bucs worked on that area, eight different players took turns lining up as return men. In addition to Demps, Eric Page, Chris Owusu, Charles Sims, Solomon Patton, Skye Dawson, Robert Herron and Lavelle Hawkins took turns returning kicks. Page held the job last year, but the Bucs clearly are looking at all alternatives.
  • The play of the day came from unexpected territory. On a fake field goal, punter Michael Koenen threw a touchdown pass to offensive tackle Demar Dotson. "If a lineman gets to cross the goal line, it's a big thing," coach Lovie Smith said.” Demar will tell you he's an athlete."
  • The runner-up for play of the day was a leaping interception of a Mike Glennon pass by linebacker Danny Lansanah. He's a guy that shouldn't be overlooked. He has a chance to make the roster as a fifth or sixth linebacker.
  • After opening camp with Jamon Meredith at left guard and Oniel Cousins at right guard, the Bucs switched things up Monday. Those two ran with the second team while rookie Kadeem Edwards worked at left guard and Patrick Omameh at right guard. Look for the Bucs to continue to rotate their guards. There is an open competition for both starting jobs.
  • A lot of people seem to think free-agent pickup Clinton McDonald is a shoe-in to start at defensive tackle. But Smith keeps talking up Akeem Spence, who started last year as a rookie. I think you could see a rotation where both players get to play to their strengths. Spence is strong against the run and McDonald has some talent as a pass-rusher.
  • Cornerback Alterraun Verner sat out with a hamstring injury. Verner said he was "nicked" up, but that the injury was nothing serious.
  • The Bucs made a few roster moves Monday. They signed cornerback Anthony Gator and defensive tackle Jibreel Black. Running back Brendan Bigelow and wide receiver Quintin Payton were released to make room for the new players.
  • The Bucs get their first day off of training camp on Tuesday. But Smith and his assistants still will work a full day.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 3

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The Buccaneers had their first pads practice of camp Sunday afternoon and it wasn’t very pretty for the offense. There were balls on the ground and the rush broke through on several occasions. But coach Lovie Smith said it’s not time to worry. “I would say it’s normal that the defense does have that advantage just as you start for some reason,’’ Smith said. “Offense is a lot on timing and things like that. We’ve had a couple balls on the ground the last couple days. Of course, we can’t do that. We’re a work in progress still.’’
  • There was one highlight for the offense. It came on a deep pass from backup quarterback Mike Glennon to running back Jeff Demps. “That’s a pretty good situation to get in,’’ Smith said. “Most times, third and short, as a defense, you have to play some form of man. To get a Mike linebacker on the fastest guy in the NFL, I’d throw it to him too.’’ Smith continued to praise Glennon, who started 13 games as a rookie but has been replaced by Josh McCown. “He’s had a good offseason in general,’’ Smith said. “He can make all of the throws. I’ve asked him to move into a different role. He’s embraced that. If Mike ends up having to play for us this year we would win a lot of football games. He’s a good football player. Again, this is his second year and there’s still a ways to go but we’re getting there.’’
  • Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers hasn’t been able to carve much of a role for himself in his first three NFL seasons. But the Bucs might be letting him try something new. Bowers has been getting some work at defensive tackle. “He can play inside,’’ Smith said. “On game day, we’re going to dress seven defensive linemen so we need at least one player that can play both inside and outside. Body type-wise, he’s right in that area. I think he could possibly rush third down situations inside and also be able to play more of a six technique on running downs outside.’’
  • Jamon Meredith and Oneil Cousins lined up as the starting guards, but that’s a very fluid situation. Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards also could be under consideration for starting roles. Smith brought up a good point when he said all four guards will get a good test against Tampa Bay’s defensive tackles. “They’re all getting reps right now,’’ Smith said. “We get great evaluations based on what’s on the other side of our guards. You have a player like Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Akeem Spence, we get a good reading on how good those players really are.’’
  • Strong safety Mark Barron revealed he had offseason surgery on his right knee. Although he’s practicing, Barron said he’s not 100 percent healthy yet, but is headed in that direction.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 2

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The Bucs, who had their practice abbreviated by lightning Friday, got their first full workout of camp in Saturday evening and the results were predictable. There was good and bad. No series summarized that more than a couple of plays near the middle of practice. On one play, quarterback Josh McCown threw an interception to strong safety Mark Barron. On the next play, McCown bounced back and hit Vincent Jackson with a perfectly thrown ball. Coach Lovie Smith said he expects the team to be more precise when it puts on pads for the first time on Sunday.
  • Speaking of first practices, Saturday marked the true debut of rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He missed the offseason program due to NCAA regulations and was very limited in the rookie minicamp by a foot injury. But Seferian-Jenkins said his foot is fine now and he practiced with no limitations. After missing so much time, though, Seferian-Jenkins might be a little behind the other tight ends – Brandon Myers, Tim Wright and Luke Stocker. “He’s playing catch-up,’’ Smith said. “But he’s catching up.’’
  • It’s usually tough to get players to talk about specific goals, but defensive end Michael Johnson broke that rule of thumb. Johnson set one goal for himself and one for the entire defense. He wants to get back to double-digit sacks like he had in 2012 with Cincinnati. He also said the Bucs want to have the best defense in the league. Those two goals kind of go hand in hand. There’s been a lot of talk about how defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David compare to Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, who were the cornerstones during Tampa Bay’s glory years. But a lot of people forget the Bucs didn’t fully get over the top until they got Simeon Rice as an outside rusher. If Johnson can make an impact anywhere close to what Rice did, the Bucs could end up being a very good defense.
  • I came into camp very skeptical about Tampa Bay’s depth at wide receiver after Jackson and rookie Mike Evans. But I’m starting to warm up to this position group. No one stood out, but guys like Tommy Streeter, Solomon Patton, Russell Shepard, Louis Murphy, Robert Herron, Lavelle Hawkins, Eric Page, Skye Dawson and David Gettis each had some bright moments. I think one of those guys will step up and claim the No. 3 job. That may be all the Bucs need because I’m not anticipating a lot of four-receiver sets from this offense.
  • Read into this whatever you want, but Jamon Meredith worked as the first-team left guard and Oniel Cousins worked at right guard. After the departure of Carl Nicks, I think the Bucs still are trying to figure out what they’re going to do at guard. I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards get some looks with the first team.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 1

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:

  • You could see them both coming from miles away. First, the Buccaneers had to leave the field nine minutes into their first practice of training camp. Then, just a few minutes later, the team announced it had “mutually agreed’’ to part ways with guard Carl Nicks. Neither event was a surprise. Let’s start with the weather. It’s Florida, it’s July and it's 4:30 p.m. ET. Thunderstorms are the norm. Maybe coach Lovie Smith’s practice schedule isn’t such a good idea. And maybe it’s time for the Bucs to get an indoor practice facility. The team resumed practice at 6:30 p.m., but had to stop again at 7:11. The Bucs got in 50 minutes of practice time, but they did have a 90-minute walkthrough earlier in the day.
  • I speculated this morning that Nicks might be contemplating retirement. I wasn’t exactly going out on a limb. Anyone who followed what was going on with Nicks during the offseason could have predicted an ending like this. Nicks appeared in only two games last season due to a toe injury and a MRSA infection. While sitting out the entire offseason program, Nicks said there was permanent damage to his toe. He tried to get back on the field, but never came close.
  • Let’s be brutally honest here. Without Nicks, the Bucs are in rough shape at guard. They have Patrick Omameh, Oneil Cousins, Jamon Meredith and rookie Kadeem Edwards to compete for the starting job on the left side. I think it’s safe to say the Bucs will be watching the waiver wire closely for guards.
  • More than ever, this is Gerald McCoy’s team. The defensive tackle was the first player on the field, coming out 30 minutes before practice. McCoy already was a leader. But, with cornerback Darrelle Revis gone, McCoy is the highest-profile player on the defense.
  • It was tough to pick out standouts in the abbreviated practice because the Bucs didn’t even get to team drills. But two players stood out. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas had a nice pass breakup in seven-on-seven drills. Casillas did some good things last year, but dealt with some injuries. I’d like to see what Casillas can do over the course of a full season on the strong side. The other player who caught my eye was wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who made a nice catch on a deep pass. There’s a logjam at wide receiver after starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Hawkins has six years of NFL experience and could contend for a roster spot.