TAMPA,FL — The Buccaneers roster got a major overhaul in the offseason. But as time goes on and training camp continues, players on both sides of the ball get more familiar with each other’s play. On the ninth day of camp, it reached a peak.
The defense in particular won the majority of the battles. Causing turnovers, breaking up passes, and keeping big gains to a minimum. The offense had it’s moments too, making defenders miss and separating from the defensive backs in the passing game. Head coach Lovie Smith acknowledged after practice, the players are getting antsy to play their first preseason game.
“This many reps together, you do know that,” Coach Smith said. “But it’s the second week in training camp, game week for that first preseason game, we’ll get our wisp before long. These next days we go through we have to keep grinding through it.”
Offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford also weighed in on the defense getting more familiar with his offense. Saying it will be refreshing once the offense faces Jacksonville Friday night.
“It was very evident today that our guys (defense) have seen our stuff a lot,” said Tedford. “Defense got the better of it today. It’ll be nice to just go in and hit new bodies and execute against different people. It’ll be exciting.”
With that being said, Tedford has been impressed with the offense’s progress throughout camp. Even more so with the veterans guiding the offense at all positions.
“I’m really impressed by some of the leadership of some of the guys like Josh (McCown), Vincent (Jackson), and Evan (Dietrich-Smith) up front,” Tedford claimed. “I think we’re showing signs of being a really good football team. It’s still a process that we’re going through, but that’s what practice is for. We’re getting better every day and learning a lot.”
Two Bucs teammates who have learned a lot about each other over the years are tackle Anthony Collins and defensive end Michael Johnson. Both spent six years together with the Cincinnati Bengals and just couldn’t stay away from each other, signing with Tampa Bay in the offseason.
“I’m tired at looking at Mike man,” Collins said jokingly. “Six years I’ve been going against the same dude, every time. But we get each other better. He came a long way, I came a long way, and that’s just because we work each other.
The offensive line has been a question mark since the parting of guard Carl Nicks at the start of training camp. Collins said the most critical part of bringing the offensive line together is establishing chemistry.
“It doesn’t take long, but the chemistry takes a while,” Collins explained. “The good thing about the offseason and training camp is that’s when the o-line needs to be together. We don’t need any holdouts, we don’t need any injuries, we don’t need any problems, all of the chemistry is what matters to get to the Super Bowl.”
The Bucs will hold their tenth training camp practice Tuesday evening starting at 4:30pm.
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