Special Teams huh?
OK, I knew today’s practice might be less exciting than the weekend or Monday, but I had already planned to take the day off and had plenty of things to accomplish. I figured worst case, I could hook up with Jarriet Buie and John Gilmore. With low expectations in tow, I headed over to 1 Buc Place from Lakeland (after a delicious lunch at The Winghouse, who, by the way, is not a sponsor yet but man that would be tasty!). A driving rainstorm with lightning and everything had me once again doubting the logic in sitting in the 102 degree weather in a polo and Dockers, but I clearly have a problem so I soldiered on (K2 would be proud).
As I anticipated, the crowd was light. There was a group of kids doing drills as part of some camp on the field when I arrived and many more groups in attendance. Mark Dominik was out patrolling the stands as usual and the machinery was running. I could hear weather updates over the security guard’s walkies and everything was cleared for an exciting session of special teams action.
I was encouraged to see first to the field, Maurice Stovall. His effort on specials has been applauded many times, but this was not simply him coming out to get in extra work on his own. Today he had Patrick Carter in tow. They dragged the tackling dummies over to the corner and Maurice proceeded to give a camp on different tactics used in getting off the line from the end on punt coverage. He meticulously waked through each step, each hand position and then worked with Carter to get him to execute each in succession. Now I am not sure if he was directed to do this or not, but it was a pleasure to see.
At this point the rest of the folks that are involved in specials hit the field. I expected to see a litany of drills revolving around punting, placekicking and kick offs (see, I am educated!). Well before any of that excitement could happen, the Bucs sent a WAVE of players out (mostly lineman) to sign autographs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are an autograph person, Special Teams practices may be the best thing you have ever seen. Tiny crowds and lots of signature opportunities. Many of the guys were not in uniform, but if you know your squad, you will do fine!
After the autograph session was over, the linemen moved over to field two and ran. When I say they ran, I mean back and forth for like 20 minutes. Most were in full sweats so I had a water bottle on the ready just in case. According to Buccaneers Insider, special teams practice days had previously been a day off for the players who did not participate in that aspect of the game. That is no longer the case under Coach Morris.
By and large, this session went exactly as you would imagine. Shag kicks. Shag punts. Work on lanes on kickoff and punt coverage. Work on getting on the field rapidly for field goals. Punt a lot and kick a bunch of field goals. Everything was fine until the team was dragging ass getting on the field when called to a few times. This was rectified pretty rapidly by the coaching staff.
While this was going on, Josh Squared hit the field with some assistants. They were over working on some throws like what seemed to be about 15 yard out route as well as similar distance dig routes. The assistants were providing a set of hands to throw over and a defender to throw in front of. The QB tandem was out there for the last half of practice an still working when I left after the final horn.
- Special Teams, while CRITICAL to the success of a football team, makes for a boring practice to watch.
- Our Placekicking situation smells dire. Matt Bryant did not kick today. Mike Nugent may as well not have hitting only a reported 3/5 and missing the only one where the team surrounded him and put on pressure. At this point, as I said to a friend on another board, we should go for it on 4th down.
- Josh Bidwell is a stud
I will not be back to camp until Friday night (yea, I was going to wait until Saturday, but I think my wife will allow Friday since there is no practice on Sunday.) The schedule seems to back off the two a days late, so I will be hitting camp a few times next week as well.
Remember to tune in this Thursday at www.whatthebuc.net (at 7:00 PM Eastern) to hear our discussion of the Bucs so far as well as to hear special guest from The Pewter Report (http://www.pewterreport.com/), Scott Reynolds discuss our QB situation.
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