Observations from Saturday's open Bucs practice
Co-chairman Bryan Glazer's statements on Saturday night ended up taking precedence over what actually transpired on the field at the Bucs' well-attended open practice at Raymond James Stadium.
But don't worry. Here's your chance to get a sense of what you missed in what turned out to be a pretty entertaining night. The Bucs tailored this practice to the fans, and, as a result, it wasn't just your garden-variety workout.
One of the features of the night was the one-on-one action. First, offensive and defensive linemen went against one another in a pass-rush drill that was dominated by the offensive line. One of the premier matchups pitted left tackle Donald Penn against right end and first-round pick Adrian Clayborn. Penn got the better of Clayborn in both attempts, with Penn shoving him to the ground on the second attempt. We also saw dominant performances in the drill from right guard Davin Joseph and center Jeff Faine.
Soon after, the team began one-on-one mathcups between receivers and defenders. Running back Earnest Graham versus linebacker Mason Foster was one of the first matchups. Foster bit on an outside move from Graham, who then turned up the field and caught an over-the-shoulder pass from Josh Freeman. Hard-earned lesson for the rookie.
Second-year receiver Dez Briscoe, who has been having a fabulous training camp, then matched up against second-year cornerback Myron Lewis. Briscoe’s route took him down the sideline, where he turned on the jets and ran by Lewis. Realizing he was beaten, Lewis twice held Briscoe, but he still managed to haul in a nicely-thrown ball for what would have been a huge gain.
Receiver Preston Parker then took on cornerback E.J. Biggers, who was draped on Parker with airtight coverage. When the ball arrived roughly 30 yards downfield, Biggers leaped over Parker and made the interception.
Then came the premier matchup, with star receiver Mike Williams taking on top cover man Aqib Talib. The cornerback, who still faces a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas, actually got a rousing ovation from the crowd, which filled more than half the stadium’s lower bowl.
Their matchup was a good one, much like they are in daily practices. Talib lost a step on Williams but quickly recovered and closed the gap before the deep ball was delivered. Talib ended up in better position than Williams, actually dropping a sure over-the-shoulder interception.
There wasn’t as much standard practice periods given the type of event, but here are a few things gleaned from the full-squad portion of practice.
Foster continues to take overwhelming majority of the first-team snaps at middle linebacker. It’s pretty clear where things are going at that position. The first depth chart is released Monday, and it’s been strongly suggested to us around One Buc Place that Foster will be listed as the starter.
With rookie tight end Luke Stocker still out with a hip injury and likely to miss at least the first preseason game, Ryan Purvis has had some more opportunity and has flashed a few times as a receiver. There’s a legitimate chance for Purvis to make the final roster as the Bucs will keep at least three tight ends.
Graham is clearly most likely to be the third-down back as he is taking most of those snaps. But LeGarrette Blount has actually gotten a share of the third-down snaps, too, something he thinks he can do during the regular season because he’s worked hard on his pass blocking and receiving skills. Only time will tell, but don’t rule it out.
The Bucs are off today, so there won’t be any updates, but they’re back on the field Monday morning and we’ll continue to monitor these matters and much more.