TAMPA, FL — The Buccaneers went into the trenches and implemented their first goal line situation of training camp at One Buc Place Sunday evening. Tampa Bay’s offense had no answer up the middle. Gerald McCoy set the tempo by stuffing Doug Martin in the backfield on the first play. The defense had a bit more trouble on play action pass, with rookie tight-end Austin Seferian-Jenkins scoring on a pass from Josh McCown.
The biggest play came from safety Mark Barron who made a jarring hit on running back Bobby Rainey near the goal line that looked like a sure touchdown. Head coach Lovie Smith was impressed with the way his defense rose to the occasion.
“Today was the first time we really had anything live and it was good to see the defense pick up the pace,” said Smith. “The defense should have the advantage a little bit when you go goal-line for the first time like that.”
Linebacker Dane Fletcher, who returned an interception for a touchdown in practice, really liked what the defense showed as the day came to a close.
“That’s the kind of defense we need,” claimed Fletcher. “That’s been the brand of Tampa for years and years. Hard hitting d-lineman, followed with linebackers, secondary and everything. So the least we can do is carry that motto on.”
Fletcher arrived as a free-agent signing in the offseason after spending his first 4 seasons in New England. He hopes his experience in big games can rub off on his younger teammates.
“A lot of the younger guys look at me somewhat for experience,” said Fletcher. “I can help out on special teams, I’ve been in big games on defense. So I think that when it comes to situations like that, I somewhat know what to bring to the table, how to talk to people, how to help the guys out.”
The offensive line was missing center Evan Dietrich-Smith today, who was given the day off as he continues to recover from a minor toe injury. Smith says the offensive line is making improvements on a daily basis.
“We’re improving,” said Dietrich-Smith. “Guy are taking steps in the right direction, day in and day out. You see guys taking coaching and applying it out on the field. That’s what you want to see as a unit and as a player.”
One of the players who will be a big factor on goal line situations is fullback Jorvorskie Lane. Entering his first season with the Bucs, Lane expressed the importance of scoring on short yardage situations near the end zone.
“That’s some of the key stuff in a game situation,” Lane said. “It could come with two yards left and we need a touchdown. I mean, we need to work on it right now.”
Lane also had a nice one-handed catch on the run in 7-on-7 drills. Primarily the fullbacks will be used more blocking in the run game, but at times will be asked to make plays catching the football. Something Lane is not shy of doing.
“That’s a good little asset to my game. I can catch a little bit. It’s just another play in our offense.”
Meanwhile, wide receiver Vincent Jackson continues to standout as the offense’s biggest weapon. Not surprising at all, considering his last two seasons were the most productive of his 10-year career. Jackson says the chemistry with starting quarterback Josh McCown is very good right now.
“He’s a very smart guy,” says Jackson of McCown. “We spend a lot of time off the field away from this facility going to high schools and just spending some time talking through some things, running some basic routes and getting a feel for each other. I think that relationship is only going to continue to grow.”
He also is developing quite the relationship with rookie wide receiver Mike Evans. The two six-foot five-inch receivers are starting to be paired together in practice more as camp rolls on. So far, Jackson likes what he sees from the first-round pick.
“He’s doing great,” Jackson said. “Mike has come in here with a great attitude since we started spring ball. Willing to learn, willing to work on his craft. He’s a big, physical guy, obviously very aggressive – he attacks the ball well. He just wants to continue to work on his game and that’s all we can ask of him.”
The Bucs will be right back at practice Monday at 4:30pm. For more in-depth Buccaneers coverage, go to PewterReport.com for the latest.