A behind the scenes look at Bucs practice
New Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib stretches during the morning workout. [Edmund D. Fountain, Times]
Us beat writers don't get to view entire practices most of the year with the exception of three weeks during training camp. But thanks to an NFL policy that requires teams to open several practices each summer to the media, we got a long look at the team today in a morning workout at Raymond James Stadium.
For starters, we'll point out an apparent confirmation of something that had been rumored for awhile: Defensive end Greg White worked almost exclusively at left defensive end, lining up opposite Gaines Adams on the right. That seems to be a lineup the Bucs are strongly considering using, though there is likely to be a lot of mixing and matching among the front four -- particularly in the interior.
On offense, we saw a lot of balls thrown to running back Warrick Dunn, which is something I think we should all get very used to. The Bucs have always made good use of the checkdown option by throwing to backs as a secondary target. But the Bucs haven't had a back who is an ideal target like Dunn is, because he is shifty and quick enough to get valuable yards if you get him the ball in space.
As for the quarterbacks, it seems like it'll be awhile before we get much of a look at Josh Johnson. The rookie, along with Bruce Gradkowski, didn't get much of a crack in today's workout. Quarterbacks coach Greg Olson told me this week it's been tough to get everyone enough snaps during practices. Jon Gruden said today that the team has been using something of a rotation to get everyone enough work, though it appears Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese and Luke McCown are getting the majority of the work. They certainly took virtually all the snaps today. Gruden said Johnson's got to learn the snap counts and such a little more before he can be handed the keys to the offense.
As a whole, the offense wasn't very sharp, which drew a lot of yelling from Gruden. But that's to be expected, I suppose, in the second-to-last week of May. Still, botched snaps, dropped passes and the like were the order of the day.
Elsewhere, linebacker Cato June broke his foot in January and missed the team's lone playoff game, but he told me today he's cleared to practice again, although he sat out today's workout. June said he's been practicing here and there but taking light because "I'm just trying to be smart about it," he said.
Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia searches downfield during a passing drill at the morning workout. [Edmund D. Fountain, Times]