Being anal, I was out of the house at 8:30 AM to get to the parking lot which was to open two hours before the 10:15 AM start to Buccaneers Training Camp 2009. After a brief stop at Burger King for a food pellet and a vicodin, I was ready to take on the world. A perk of my overpriced season tickets was that I was to receive some form of VIP parking. Since I love the thought of being a VIP in any sense, I was quite anxious to find out what that entailed. There was an email that went out early to remind us “Club Seat Folk” of this perk, but no instructions on where this magical parking was. I was rewarded with the first 4 sets of parking attendants having no clue either and simply passing me to the next set. The final person seemed to make a connection and waved me up to the front row (which, at that time of the morning was not really any better than any other parking, but as an “IP” I felt very much loved. And hey, I was about to watch football again for the first time in like 95 years. What more could I ask.
As it happened, my parking spot was right under the gigantic Buccaneers flag at 1 Buc Place. It is an oppressively large item, but even at 9:00 AM, there was no wind and plenty of sun so the pics are a little less than breathtaking. (Posted elsewhere for now) Entry was far simpler than the buildup would have you believe. There was a bag check, but everyone was quite cordial. There was ticket scanning, but plenty of tickets seemed to be available even to this sold out event. Major sponsors occupied the entry area with Fords and Mercedes on display as well as the Tribune and Brighthouse giving away free swag. The food area seemed well stocked and prices were cut in half making food and drinks bearable. In addition to the food court area, each corner had a drink station and there were folks walking around with wagons full of drinks. Despite all of this effort, there was considerable grumbling from the crowd about the 2.00 bottles of water.
Never missing a chance to sell some merchandise, the mobile gear shop was in full effect. Dominating the façade was a wave of creamsickle throwback jerseys and gear. All articles in the shop are 30% off which seems like a pretty good deal. It looked like they had a pretty good supply and there are some deals that I will be taking advantage off on the way out this week. On to the notes!
Stack Rank: McCown, GAP, Freeman, Leftwich, Johnson
McCown, while not tearing down the facility, was consistent in drills in both practices. He made accurate throws, showed arm strength and was quick through reads. Leftwich continues to play himself out of a role even though he occasionally pulls off an amazing pass. His motions, every single one of them, are painfully slow. If I were not sober yesterday, I would, in hindsight, assume I had been drinking….heavily. Freeman looks like a rookie; which he is. He has moments of brilliance and moments of despair. The TD pass of the pump to Dexter Jackson was a gorgeous throw (in 7 on 7 drills). He has also shown some serious blunders in decisions on where to put the ball. Not something worthy of condemnation. He is still learning. He clearly has a great deal of physical talent. The key will be to let it develop at a safe, but aggressive pace. The mystery for me here is Josh Johnson. When I watch him work, his mechanics look outstanding. His release is far and away the fastest. The ball is high on his drop. His feet are fast and he gets into position to throw quickly. Things he did not do well last year in camp. I thought he looked good yesterday but others felt he had no arm strength. I focused a little more on him at the night practice and did not see that issue. Does he have the strongest arm on the squad? Nope. But his throws did not lack zip in what I saw. I said it yesterday and I know that people think I am crazy, but Leftwich may be the odd man out at QB. I know that would leave us with no veteran backup, but he has been so bad, that may not be a problem.
Stack Rank: Really Open, but for argument sake, Graham, Ward, Williams, Smith, Everyone Else
This whole crew looked good at both practices. With the exception of some fumbles (notably Graham), the group is running fast and leveraging their line. Getting to see the team in pads on Day 1 is fun, but the fact is that the running game is hard to comment on until you get live fire. Smith is opening up some eyes as a RB and Carnell looks to be in good health. A feel-good story waiting to happen again, if Williams can come back from his most recent knee injury, this backfield will be very deep.
Stack Rank: Bryant, GAP, Clayton, Campbell/Clark/Jackson/Stovall
Antonio Bryant is a stud. If he can stay focused, he should have another strong year. He is physical enough o get open off the bump and has enough speed to get behind people before they realize it. He is no Galloway-esque type of burner, but I watched him run by many people yesterday (Notably never Talib). I GAPPED the #2 because Clayton had a number of drops in amongst otherwise good play yesterday including the excellent and oft talked about TD reception in the night practice (which I happen to agree with Coach Morris about. In a real game, T. Jack would have simply taken the receivers head off Dallas Clark style and not risked the pick). Guy’s problem is clearly mental. Let’s hope he can get over it. Campbell and Clark seem to be what news out of OTA’s conveyed. They are both making plays and both look quick. Stovall looks lighter and faster, but despite my love for his ability, I find myself afraid each time he is involved in a play that an injury is about to occur. If he can still show his aptitude as a gunner on ST, it may cause a problem for some other WR who cannot product as a special teamer. Surprise of the first day here was D. Jack. Outfitted with a new Yukon Cornelious beard, he was all over the field. He looked very good at the WR position when not bumped. They better be working on his ability to get off the line otherwise. I did not notice Stroughter standing out, but will be paying more attention to him today.
Stack Rank: Winslow, Stevens, Gilmore, Others (WTF is a big Wisconsonian doing in the 84 jersey?)
Winslow was quite early, but made some very nice plays in the evening practice. Though hard to tell after two sessions, the TE’s are getting a fair number of looks and not all of them are as a result of exorbitant checking down. Stevens is what he is and performed well yesterday (while not standing out). Gilmore is a BEAST (HUGE…did I mention he is a LARGE man?). That crew looks to be solid and wil hopefully benefit from the new scheme, especially in the redzone.
Plan for today:
Watch the fat guys! (Woo HOO!)
I will be watching the sleds today and trying to get into position to watch the defensive and offensive lines today. I will expand to the defensive side of the ball a little, but probably plan to do more of that Monday and Tuesday when there should be fewer folks around.
I post Pics on our partner sites as fast as possible (http://www.thecaptainsdeck.net/, http://www.bucschat,com/ and others. I am a CRAPPY photographer, but it gives you some flavor.) I also upload whatever video I get to our YouTube channel with a synopsis. So please check them out and let me know what you think. If you are new to the site and/or program, please check out our archives and podcasts.
About What the Buc?
We put on a live, internet based television show twice a week via our website http://www.WhatTheBuc.net. Viewers tune in and interact via the live chat, email and live call-ins to the studio.
The show is live Mondays from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM. The Thursday show is from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Shows are available for free on iTunes, the Zune Marketplace as well as through an embedded player on our site (and many more with each passing day!)
We love to have guest callers and have been fortunate enough to have multiple player call-ins as well as local and national media representatives.