TAMPA — If the Bucs were looking for a crowd-pleaser at the start of Saturday's practice, this did the trick: 11-on-11 red-zone work, and Jameis Winston (above left) connecting with DeSean Jackson (below left) on two quick touchdowns to get an overflow crowd going.
"DeSean had a great day," coach Dirk Koetter said. "Got off to a fast start. … Big day for DeSean. Fun to see."
Jackson first beat CB Vernon Hargreaves on a diving catch inside, then went up high in the back of the end zone for a toe-tap touchdown. Jackson's speed should give the team a needed deep threat, but his playmaking can also work in close quarters.
"Any time you're able to get that close down there, it's a little harder because the field gets smaller but we had some great plays in there," Jackson said. "I was able to make some great plays."
With good weather on a weekend, the Bucs had their best turnout of training camp, sparked by "Stick Carrier" takeover day on Saturday. The online fan group — the name is a nod to Koetter telling his players in San Diego last year to "speak softly and carry a big … stick" — arrived early and greeted each player by chanting their names.
"They were out here since like 7," Jackson said. "We heard them in the meeting room, so we knew it was going to be a very energized day. We appreciate their support, so we put a little show on for them."
Koetter greeted the "Stick Carrier" fans before and after practice, leading them through his "speak softly" quote for the HBO Hard Knocks cameras.
"The crowd was fantastic. Are you kidding me?" Koetter told reporters. "The crowd was awesome. They did a great job."
This and that
The team continue to rest its veterans, with DT Clinton McDonald held out Saturday after DT Chris Baker and DE Robert Ayers were off Friday. In a stretch of four straight days of full-pads practices, Koetter wants to keep players healthy. … The team has today off and is back Monday, preparing for Friday's preseason opener at the Bengals. … Everybody's preparing for football season, and as the Bucs practiced at One Buc Place, paratroopers could be seen making their descent across the street at Raymond James Stadium as they would before home games. … S J.J. Wilcox had a strong practice Saturday, intercepting Winston in 7-on-7 drills and making key pass breakups. … The team is cross-training its second-team offensive line, with Joe Hawley shifted to guard during drills and Evan Smith working at center.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.