TAMPA, FL– When Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith said his team would practice in the afternoons during this year’s training camp, he wanted to simulate the typical Florida summer conditions. Due mainly to the fact that their first two regular season games will be at home at 4 o’clock.
Unfortunately, some of those conditions include cloudy skies with thunderstorms. And that’s exactly what the Bucs and their fans experienced today.
The Buccaneers took the field at 4:30 pm as planned to stretch and start their individual drills. But nearly ten minutes into their first training camp practice, a lightning delay was called and the team trotted inside. Nearly 2 hours later the team returned out on the field, only able to salvage around forty minutes to end the day. While Tampa Bay totaled less than a full hour of practice time, Lovie Smith still claimed some good work was put in.
“Tough day, that’s how it goes sometimes,” Smith said following practice. “(We were) Able to get a little bit of individual work in. That’s not an ideal first day for us. But as I told the football team, when we play Carolina, if we get a rain delay, you have to be able go in and come back out. So everything you do in the offseason, the preseason and training camp gets you ready for the football season.”
Linebacker Mason Foster said after practice that the weather did not affect the teams preparation, and stay focused and loose during the delay.
“It’s happened to us before in the past. You gotta get ready for it. This is what it is in Florida, you never know whats gonna come at you,” Foster said. “Our guys handle it well. We all lounge around, go over stuff, relax, so it was good practice today getting ready for it.”
Despite the weather potentially being a factor in disrupting future training camp practices, Coach Smith has decided he will not adjust the schedule for now.
“You don’t change what you’ve been doing based on one day,” said Smith. “If something continues to happen and we miss a lot of them, just like in a game you’ll change it up then, but you don’t change up what you believe. We put a lot of time into this practice schedule, so we’re not going to change anything up right away.”
The other big story that broke at One Buc Place today was the announcement that the Buccaneers and G Carl Nicks mutually parted ways. Nicks had been battling a nagging toe injury for years that got worse last season from the MRSA infection that spread through the locker room. After undergoing surgery, Nicks tried his best to get back in time for camp. But in the end, he couldn’t get back to full health and felt it was best to step away from the game. Nicks played two seasons with the Bucs, playing just 9 games.
Gerald McCoy had practiced against Nicks the past couple years, says he was a big part of his development.
“When Carl Nicks was able to come in, who I thought was the best guard in football, he was able to take my game to another level,” said McCoy. “A great teammate, always smiling, loved the game and loved his teammates. You hate to see him go.”
Coach Lovie Smith said that Jamon Meredith will now assume Nicks’ left guard position at the top of the depth chart. Meredith said that despite Nicks’ departure, he and the rest of the offensive line can continue to improve.
“Carl’s a great player and I had the utmost respect for him,” Meredith said. “But he’s gone down two times before in the past and we were able to bounce back. It happened on the fly, and we found a way to keep improving. I think we’ll be okay.”
The Buccaneers will now shift their focus to the weekend practices starting Saturday afternoon. While they did not get everything accomplished on Day 1, quarterback Josh McCown believes the familiarity is coming together.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the whole practice in but at least we kind of got the newness part a little bit gone and now we can settle in and hopefully come out tomorrow with a little better weather and get it all done.”