TAMPA — Lovie Smith learned something else about his players Wednesday. They've still got some fight in them.
Skirmishes and scuffles broke out when players returned after a day off. At the center of it was C Evan Dietrich-Smith, who went after backup DT Matthew Masifilo after the whistle during an 11-on-11 drill. A couple of big hits by LB Mason Foster on RB Bobby Rainey heightened the intensity during red zone work.
"Every day at practice you see something different," Smith said. "The longer it goes, the more chippy it gets here and there. We had a few scuffles. I tell the guys: 'You don't want to fight because in the game, they throw you out of the game, and that's not good. We're getting ready for the season, and we want it to be as game-like as possible. But if you do feel like you just have to mix it up with a guy, fight him the way you would fight your brother. No cheap shots or anything like that. And after that, you've got to get in for the next play while you're tired.' "
CB Leonard Johnson said the red zone work, where the field gets short and the tempers get shorter, might have added to the intensity. "It's been a long time since these guys have put on pads and hit someone," he said. "I think being down in the red zone, the field is twice as wide as it is long, and it kind of forces us to get a little physical."
But Smith would just as soon the Bucs not get into the habit of throwing hands after the play. "I don't think fighting proves you're tough guys or anything like that," he said. "We don't have to fight to get fired up for practice. It's about doing the day-to-day things."
CHEMISTRY LESSON: QB Josh McCown and WR Vincent Jackson proved it may not take long for them to become a productive pass combination. During extensive red zone and team work, they hooked up for three touchdowns, including a pass play of more than 50 yards on a deep post route.
"They have to have good chemistry," Smith said. "Vincent is our No. 1 receiver. We're banking on him making a lot of plays. Chemistry or whatever you want to call it between he and Josh has to be good. Vince is a playmaker. When you get down there, you've got to get the ball in your playmaker's hands, and we did (Wednesday) on more than one occasion, which is great."
The defense had its share of plays. S Mark Barron had an interception of McCown during seven-on-seven in the red zone. The practice ended with backup QB Mike Glennon hitting TE Tim Wright in the end zone.
BUCS BITS: Missouri CB Kip Edwards, 24, undrafted in 2013, signed. He was cut by the Bills at the end of camp, had a brief stint on the Browns practice squad and finished 2013 on the Vikings' practice squad. … CB Alterraun Verner missed practice because of a hamstring injury. … Johnson, playing in his nickel CB spot, laid out WR Skye Dawson on Tuesday. "I was out the last two weeks of OTA's when we were working on a lot of red zone," he said. "So I wasn't able to get in and take any reps. It was good for me to get out and my hands on some people."