TAMPA — Bucs CB Brent Grimes, 34, continues to answer any doubters about his ability to continue playing at a high level at his age.
On Monday, that meant a late interception on a Jameis Winston pass intended for Mike Evans, and an impressive pass breakup on a deep ball to DeSean Jackson.
"Brent Grimes is good every day, but that play he made, knocking it away on the deep one, that was a fantastic play," coach Dirk Koetter said. "There's two of our best players (Grimes and Jackson) and that's what you're talking about when you're saying compete in practice to make each other better. That's making us better."
Koetter said even Winston learned from the play, as he isn't used to having a deep threat as fast as Jackson, and by not throwing it farther, he allowed Grimes to get back into the play and break it up.
"D-Jack had him beat, but Jameis hasn't had a guy that can run like that," Koetter said. "If Jameis puts that out there another five yards, that's a touchdown. Brent Grimes was beat by a step and made a superhuman effort to knock it away."
'Off the menu'
Three days after the excitement of Roberto Aguayo going 7-for-7 on kicks Friday, both he and challenger Nick Folk struggled to make any kicks with consistency.
Both kickers missed kicks wide on the skinny goalposts and the regular ones, with Aguayo getting one good kick at the end while Folk missed.
"Not too good. It's one day on, one day off," Koetter said. "Whatever they ate for breakfast today, off the menu. Because that wasn't it. … Neither one of them was very good today. It's simple process. Okay? You're a kicker in the NFL, inside 50 yards, you've got to make your kicks. I'm not being a hard-a-- or anything. That's just what it is in this league. They know it. I know it. Everyone here knows it."
It's that time of training camp when players are asked if they're tired of beating up on each other and eager to finally face an opponent, as the Bucs will do Friday night at the Bengals in their preseason opener.
Monday's practice saw the first real scuffle of Bucs training camp, as cameras from WFLA caught DE Noah Spence throw a punch at rookie OT Cole Gardner, who was filling in as the second-team left tackle with Caleb Benenoch out with a minor injury. The video showed Gardner shoving Spence after the play, then Spence throws a punch at Gardner (still wearing a helmet) and Gardner returned with a punch of his own before players came in to separate them.
One day after former Bucs coach Greg Schiano said his current Ohio State defensive line is more talented than any he had in Tampa Bay, his former players had a chance to respond to the unexpected shot.
"I'm guessing it was to make his defensive line more confident, but it surprised me that he said it," said George Johnson, who was cut midway through Schiano's first season, rejoining the Bucs in 2015. "But, coming from Coach Schiano, it really didn't surprise me."
Johnson said he had respect for his 2012 linemates, including DT Gerald McCoy (five straight Pro Bowls) and DE Michael Bennett, who had nine sacks that season and has had 301/2 in the last four years since signing with Seattle.
"The fact is, they're still in college, trying to get to where we are," Johnson said. "You can't compare a college team to an NFL team. There's so many differences in talent. It's kind of hard to say that when we've got one guy in the Pro Bowl every year and another guy (Bennett) in the top 100."
McCoy also took the high road. "Everybody's entitled to their own opinion," he said. Will Gholston, a rookie under Schiano in 2013 and a Michigan State grad, said he just took the comments as Schiano trying to build up his current players, not knock his former players.
"Those are his guys now. You have to put as much faith and courage into your guys, make them believe in themselves," he said. "Other than that, it's just his opinion. It doesn't matter."
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.