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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Linebacker Quincy Black looking to bounce back in Bucs' new defense

quincy.jpegFair or not, Bucs outside linebacker Quincy Black entered 2011 with heightened expectations after signing a 5-year, $29 million contract.

There likely aren’t many fans who feel he met those expectations after finishing with 59 tackles and not nearly enough “splash” plays as the Bucs’ defense finished among the worst in the NFL.

But Black, like the rest of Tampa Bay’s players, is getting a chance to turn the page under new coach Greg Schiano. And, through the first four days of training camp, Black has registered a handful of impact plays, the kind the Bucs promised from him long ago.

He’s been able to knock down a few passes, doing a good job in coverage. Black also notched one of the harder hits of camp thus far when he fought off a block and flattened receiver Vincent Jackson on an attempted screen play on Monday.

Black has, in the past, often seemed a step too slow in getting to the ball. But he suggested Schiano’s new defense could suit him better than the Tampa 2 style of old.

“It’s more attacking,” Black said of Schiano’s scheme. “It’s not as much reading (defensive) linemen. It’s get up and go and everything else falls into place.” …

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After tough start to training camp, welcome day off for Bucs players

The Bucs are taking a welcome break from the searing Florida sun today, enjoying a day off from training camp in accordance with the lighter schedule mandated by the collective bargaining agreement.

When the CBA was agreed to last year, it included required days off during camp and five total days off during camp and the preseason. The Bucs certainly aren't opposed to it, not after four straight days of grueling practices, the past two in full pads. Their days also include hours on end in meeting rooms. Players are spending up to 14 hours per day at One Buc Place under coach Greg Schiano's schedule.

So, the break is not only physical, but mental, too.

Tampa Bay gets back to work on Wednesday with a practice open to the public. They'll go hard for four straight days, capped with Saturday night's intrasquad scrimmage at Raymond James Stadium, then enjoy another day off on Sunday.

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Photo gallery: Monday's training camp pics


View a gallery of photos from Monday's practice at One Buc Place.

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Underwood making an impression in Bucs camp

WR Tiquan Underwood, on his third team in four NFL seasons since coming out of Rutgers, hopes he can find a way to stick with the Bucs.

And coach Greg Schiano, Underwood’s college coach, likes the way the 6-foot-1, 184-pound receiver can stretch the field.

“He’s had a good first four days of camp, he’s made some big plays – some chunk plays – which are critical in offensive football,” Schiano said. “Four days doesn’t a camp make, but you’ve got to have the first four before you can have the second. Right now, he’s off to a good start.”

Underwood, 25, knows it's important to be versatile, including making an impact on special teams, to find a coveted spot on the 53-man roster. But he's seeing his confidence grow early in camp.

“Just getting more comfortable with the playbook, and when you’re comfortable and know what you’re doing, you can play faster,” Underwood. “I’m just trying to do that and show the coaches they can depend on me.” 



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Forced to play left tackle, Bucs' Demar Dotson tries to catch on quickly

Demar Dotson’s experience level at left tackle isn’t what you might call extensive. In fact, he has almost no history of playing the position.

But that’s changed quite a bit in the past few days, when Dotson has consistently taken the first-team snaps in place of injured Donald Penn (calf). Having played almost exclusively right tackle in the past, Dotson is preparing to potentially enter the preseason as the protector of quarterback Josh Freeman’s blind side.

Dotson did a limited amount of left-tackle work in the offseason, on his own, and the former basketball player at Southern Miss has nimble feet and good athleticism.

But whether that adequately prepares him to face accomplished pass rushers like Miami’s Cameron Wake, who Dotson could face in the preseason opener, is another matter.

“It is a big leap,” Dotson said. “Skill wise, I have quick feet and I can move and I can stay in front of guys, but it’s a lot more than that. If you just stayed in front of people and moved your feet, that won’t get it done. It takes a whole lot more than that, but I’m working at it every day. …

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Bucs keeping an eye on possible Eric Wright injury

With cornerback E.J. Biggers already on the shelf with a foot injury that will keep him out for weeks, the depth in the secondary has already taken a hit.

That’s why it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bucs be particularly cautious about whatever physical issue is bothering starting cornerback Eric Wright, who was unable to finish practice today because of an undisclosed injury. Wright has seemingly been bothered by a lower-body issue for the past several days, leaving practice early on Saturday, too. He returned on Sunday and started this morning’s practice with the first team, only to give way to Anthony Gaitor, Myron Lewis and Leonard Johnson later in the workout as he watched from the sidelines.

Wright didn’t comment specifically, saying only that “It’s training camp. I’m working. I’m good.”

Meanwhile coach Greg Schiano said, “I think he’s okay. It’s something small probably.”

Wright signed with the Bucs in March, agreeing to a five-year, $37 million contract. His addition effectively has allowed the move of longtime cornerback Ronde Barber to safety.

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Bucs rookie RB Doug Martin off to a fast start in battle with LeGarrette Blount

No one is making any public declarations about the Bucs' running back situation, and the team won't release a depth chart for at least another week.

But it doesn't take an expert to see that rookie running back Doug Martin looks -- at least for now -- like the Bucs' primary running back.

How do we know this? Well, the mere fact that he is taking a large majority of the first-team reps in practice is a pretty reliable tip. And when the Bucs conducted a pass-protection period in this morning's practice, Martin got the bigger share of the reps. That's an area Blount has, in the past, had some real struggles.

And here's something else about Martin, the first-round pick from Boise State: He is showcasing his quick burst at the line of scrimmage, showing his ability to decisively hit holes, then use his speed to make defenders miss in the second level. That speed and quickness gives the Bucs the option to use more tosses and perimeter runs, things they haven't been able to utilize much with Blount who lacks comparable speed. …

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Schiano happy to see the pads come on, but disappointed when the football comes out

Bucs coach Greg Schiano was pleased to hear the pads popping for the first time during training camp Sunday, but he was disappointed when a football popped loose.

Penalties and missed assignments are part of the game, especially during the first day of contact. Running back Mossis Madu lost a fumble during a team drill. Overall, ball security has been good, according to Schiano, but added that there is no excuse for a running back to have a turnover.

"I thought the guys responded well,'' Schiano said. "We certainly have a ton of stuff we have to work on. It was sloppy. But I think every time you add a different variable to the equation, you’re going to get a little bit of that. So we add the pads, we add contact, you start thinking about some of those contact related things and you start messing up your assignments or you jump off-sides.

"Penalties, missed assignments. We had one ball come out, which that just can’t happen. A ball carrier can not put the ball on the ground, period."

Schiano has been pleased by the competition at running back, where LeGarrette Blount, rookies Doug Martin and Michael Smith and Madu have split repetitions. …

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Brian Price thrilled with fresh start with Chicago Bears

As departed defensive tackle Brian Price prepares for his first practice with the Chicago Bears this week, he took time to update local reporters there about his status following his trade from the Bucs on Thursday.

Of his health, Price said, “Man, I’m here with this team, and I’m feeling great. A couple of months ago, it was nowhere near where I’m at now. Just being here, I feel better, like the weight of the world got lifted off my shoulders.”

Price has battled a rare condition with his pelvis and hamstrings, one that affected him all through the 2011 season and, he said, adversely affected him during the conditioning test he failed on Thursday in Tampa.

But Price vowed to be ready to go when he is allowed to join his new teammates on Tuesday. He passed the Bears’ physical on Saturday.

“That’s a part of being a professional,” he said. “No matter what you’re going through, you still got to show up and be a pro.”

The change of scenery seems to have had a positive impact on Price.

“I was happy,” he said. “A brand new beginning. A fresh start. It doesn’t get no better than this. . . This is a defensive town. Great leaders. The love of the game is coming back to me.”

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Former Bucs WR Dezmon Briscoe: Bucs 'hand picked their guys'

Waived by the Bucs on Thursday, receiver Dez Briscoe told Washington reporters his failure to attend some voluntary offseason workouts and inability to pass the Tampa Bay’s conditioning test loomed large in the decision.

“I had a bunch of personal stuff going on,” he said of the reason for his missed workouts. “The conditioning test, everyone didn’t pass. I feel like that was a big reason why (I was released). It stuck out with me not passing because I wasn’t there at the offseason training. So, they made it seem like I was out of condition, which I’m not. I have to take advantage of the opportunity now.”

Briscoe called Schiano “a good guy, a real good coach.” But he added that the rookie coach and his staff “pretty much hand-picked their guys.”

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Photos: Bucs training camp


View photos from Bucs training camp on Saturday, July 28, 2012.

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Injured Bucs defensive end Da'Quan Bowers working his way back

Injured defensive end Da'Quan Bowers was a spectator during today's practice at One Buc Place, watching what he's missing while rehabbing his ruptured Achilles tendon.

Bowers, who was injured during an offseason workout session in May, said he currently is limited to jogging, but he hasn't given up on the notion that he could return before the season ends.

In fact, Bowers said he's been encouraged by his progress and has had to be reminded by the Tampa Bay training staff to use caution and not push himself too hard too soon.

"The big thing right now," he said, "is not to rush it. They've told me I might feel ready, but just don't rush it."

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E.J. Biggers' foot injury impacts Bucs' depth at cornerback

gaitor.jpgThe Bucs already are coping with their share of injuries, and it turns out cornerback E.J. Biggers’ foot injury is at least somewhat serious. Biggers was injured in a collision in Friday’s practice, and coach Greg Schiano said the fourth-year player will miss “more than two weeks.” reported Biggers had a broken bone in his foot, though Schiano would not get more specific.

Though it’s unknown whether Biggers’ injury will impact the Bucs beyond the preseason, it’s a concern at least in the short term. The Bucs’ lineup of cornerbacks becomes quite young after Biggers, the team’s nickelback during the past two seasons.

Second-year player Anthony Gaitor (pictured), a seventh-round pick in 2011, could play a more prominent role. Former third-round pick Myron Lewis has struggled mightily in his first two seasons and has, perhaps, been passed by Gaitor. Beyond them, there’s almost no experience. …

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Bucs lose Arrelious Benn for a month in first practice

One day into training camp and injuries are already becoming a major issue for the Buccaneers.

With left tackle Donald Penn already on the shelf for several weeks with a calf injury, the Bucs today determined third-year receiver Arrelious Benn could miss a month with a knee sprain. Benn appeared to injure his right knee in Friday's morning training camp practice. He walked gingerly off the field and straight to the training room, never returning to the field.

Coach Greg Schiano did not comment, saying he needed to consult with trainers first.

The news is a blow to the Bucs, who still have high hopes for Benn. The former second-round pick has started 23 games in his first two seasons and already has dealt with a left ACL tear in December 2010.

The Bucs themselves had already pared their receiving corps this week, waiving Dezmon Briscoe on Thursday. The team's 2011 touchdown receptions leader was claimed off waivers today by the Redskins, who now employ former Bucs coach Raheem Morris on their defensive staff. …

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Video: Bucs' first training camp practice

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