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Bucs go to goal-line drill during first practice in pads

Seeking a breakaway: Jeff Demps, center, tries to break the tackle of linebacker Nate Askew during practice.

SAM OWENS | Times

Seeking a breakaway: Jeff Demps, center, tries to break the tackle of linebacker Nate Askew during practice.

TAMPA — The Bucs picked up their intensity Sunday, going live in pads for the first time in camp.

The biggest highlight came at the end in a hard-hitting, goal-line drill.

The offense did well early in practice, but the defense closed with the upper hand. DT Gerald McCoy was a big part of slowing the running game, though there were a few touchdown passes, including one from QB Josh McCown to TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

"It's a lot of fun," RB Bobby Rainey said of the goal-line drill. "There's no gimme plays, just come right down here at you, and see who can win. It's good on both sides if your defense can stand up and if the offense can punch it in."

Rainey, however, was on the receiving end of one of the best hits, with S Mark Barron stuffing him at the goal line.

"I saw the defense, without a lot of live (practice), pick it up," coach Lovie Smith said. "Down in the goal line, you can't hide, you show your true colors and I like what I saw."

High praise: WR Vincent Jackson has appeared in mid-season form during camp, making big catches every practice, acknowledging his quick chemistry with McCown.

But Jackson, entering his 10th NFL season, said he never has been in an offense like this, and that's exciting to him.

"It's a little bit unique to me," Jackson said. "Doing the up-tempo a little bit, switching the pace on the defense, dictating to the defense a little bit. I like it. It's a little fun. It changes the pace, the rhythm of the game, I think it's an advantage. You see it a lot more popular with a lot more offenses doing it around the league, and I'm glad to get to be a part of an offense that does that."

Jackson appreciates how this offense will move him around a lot, which reduces double teams. "With a dynamic offense that we have with different guys able to create mismatches, I think we're going to be very balanced."

Not ideal: All-Pro S Alterraun Verner (hamstring) sat out his fifth straight practice and Smith isn't sure when he'll return. Verner, who signed a four-year, $26.5 million deal in the offseason, is improving and ran without pain, Smith said. Verner never missed a game in four seasons with the Titans. "It's not an ideal situation when you come in new," Smith said. "You know, we want (Verner) out there every snap. We'll be very cautious with him. We have to get a special player on the football field."

More medical: CB Mike Jenkins (leg) also remained out, and C Evan Dietrich-Smith (toe) sat for a second straight practice. Dietrich-Smith said he's fine and should return soon. LB Jeremy Grable, who has impressed, was on the sideline with his left foot in a protective boot. S Dashon Goldson (foot) practiced.

Bucs bits: S Brandon McDougald, battling for a spot, continues to open eyes with a couple of tackles for loss. Smith said the Bucs could keep four or five safeties, and he has "taken notice" of McDougald. "We normally don't get rid of good football players," Smith said. "So if you continue to make plays like that, we'll find a way." … Smith said they plan to dress seven offensive linemen.

Contact Joe Smith at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Bucs go to goal-line drill during first practice in pads 08/03/14 [Last modified: Sunday, August 3, 2014 10:27pm]
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