TAMPA, Fla. – The Buccaneers’ third day of camp was marked by blazing heat and blazing speed. The team’s first practice in pads kicked off at 2 P.M., during the peak of the Florida heat and humidity.
“Of course we wanted to practice right in the heat of the day. Most of our games will be played around that one-to-three slot. This is getting them ready for it,” said Head Coach Lovie Smith.
The Bucs open their season with two afternoon home games: against the Panthers on September 7 at 4:25 P.M. and the Rams at 4:05 the following week. With the exception of a night game in Atlanta, the rest of the games will be played at 1 P.M.
The afternoon was punctuated by a deep pass from QB Mike Glennon to RB and Olympic medalist Jeff Demps, who blew by the defense, as the crowd roared.
“I liked it quite a bit, it’s a pretty good situation to get in. Most of the time on third and short, as a defense, you have to play some sort of man to get a Mike linebacker on the fastest guy in the NFL. I would throw it to him too,” said Lovie.
While Lovie is known for his extensive history coaching the defense, he spent much of the day evaluating the other side of the ball. For about 30 minutes, the receivers shot through running drills followed by throwing drills with the quarterbacks. The QBs then took to the middle of the three practice fields at One Buc Place to execute throws while a large exercise ball was thrown at them.
Shortly after 3 P.M., a scrimmage featured rookie WR Mike Evans making a diving catch from QB Josh McCown to just stay in bounds.
The Bucs have designated Senior Defensive Assistant Larry Marmie as their nickel back coach, who was coaching up CBs Leonard Johnson and Quinton Pointer on the sideline.
Safety Mark Barron likes what he’s seeing from Johnson, saying, “Me and Leonard came in together. Since day one, he’s been a hard worker. I actually feel like he’s one of the hardest workers on this team.”
After a short special teams segment on the field closest to fans, which focused quite a bit on squib kicks, Lovie motioned for a full scrimmage to start at 3:45 P.M.
The full contact began with WR Lavelle Hawkins getting demolished by Barron on a pass from McCown, who also beautifully threaded the needle to WR Skye Dawson.
Running back Doug Martin said of their first day in pads, “I felt like the offense responded pretty well. Overall, I think we did pretty good today.”
Following the practice session, Lovie, GM Jason Licht and several players hosted nearly 100 Special Olympics Florida athletes in drills. Glennon, DT Gerald McCoy, WR Chris Owusu, DEs Michael Johnson and William Gholston, DT Clinton McDonald and kicker Connor Barth were all smiles as they ran through drills with the special athletes.
“Whenever you get to interact with someone that meets you with a big smile, loves the Bucs, great advice: I got a lot of advice about what we need to win every game. I said, ‘Hey, I’m all in favor of that also.’ They know our players and this is a special day for them, of course a special group of people, some of our fans that we want to interact with up close and personal,” Lovie said.