TAMPA, FL– The Buccaneers returned to practice Wednesday from their first day off Tuesday, showing more aggressive moments and hits to date. It’s not uncommon for emotions to run high and tempers to flare in camp, as opportunities to make a statement become more of a priority. Head coach Lovie Smith is not in favor of fighting, but has a few requests if his players do get into a scuffle.
“As we’re getting ready for the season, we want it to be as game-like as possible,” Coach Smith said following practice. “But if you do feel like you just have to mix it up with a guy, fight him the way you would fight your brother, no cheap shots or anything like that and after that you have to get back in for the next play.”
Coach Smith understands that the intensity level gets raised as the season draws near, but knows fights on the field in games will not benefit the team.
“It’s about doing the day-to-day things and again they don’t let you fight during the games, so that’s not really helping us an awful lot.”
Cornerback Johnthan Banks, who has been getting more reps while Altteraun Verner nurses a hamstring injury, believes the fire showed by his teammates is result of how hard everyone is working.
“That’s the kind of thing we like to see around here, guys competing and getting after each other,” said Banks. “We all still know, once we get in that locker room, we’re family. That’s the thing that Coach Lovie always preaches on, competing and going hard and that’s what we did today.”
Banks is entering his sophomore season and is making good strides according to Coach Lovie Smith. Banks says he has a much better grasp of how to approach the NFL season compared to his rookie season.
“I got a fresh mind this year – I know what to do, I know what to expect,” Banks claimed. “I’m just coming out here and trying to have fun and enjoy the process.”
The offense had the most fun today, winning most of the team and red zone portions of practice. In particular, quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Vincent Jackson connected multiple times for touchdowns and big plays. Lovie Smith says the connection between those two will be critical to the success of the offense.
“They have to have good chemistry,” said Smith. “For Vince, he’s a playmaker and when you get down there [red zone] you have to get the ball in your playmaker’s hands and we did that today, on more than one occasion.”
Another threat in the passing game is tight end Tim Wright who ended the day with a great touchdown grab between two defenders, said the offense was on point throughout the day.
“I think it was good work,” said Wright. “We had a direct plan from walk-through earlier. We just went out here and executed on offense. Defense made some good plays, but all-around as a whole team we went out and executed.”
Wright could act as the teams hybrid tight end, spreading out wide mores than lining up next to the offensive line. Head coach Lovie Smith talked about the unique opportunities Tim Wright can provide the Bucs offense.
“That seems to be a trend in the league now, to have a tight end that you can split out and do different things with and we have one too in Tim,” Lovie said. “He can lineup outside and in the true Y tight end position, we’ve had him in the backfield, and he does give us a lot of flexibility.”
The Bucs will return to practice Thursday afternoon at 2pm at One Buc Place, open to the public.