Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs put on pads for the first time

TAMPA — Bucs LT Anthony Collins knows offseason workouts are important for conditioning and learning new offensive and defensive schemes. But it doesn't resemble what happens in the NFL during fall Sundays.

"The first day of pads is really the first day of football," Collins said.

So training camp really kicked off Sunday as the pads came on and there was full contact — at least for those in the trenches. Overall, the defense probably got the upper hand as the offense made its share of plays but left too many footballs on the ground.

"Normally, yes, defense does have the advantage just as you start for some reason," coach Lovie Smith said. "Offense is a lot of timing and things like that. The last couple days, we've had a couple of balls on the ground. Of course, we can't do that, but we're a work in progress still. But offensively, we are doing some things."

Collins, who signed during the offseason, lined up against DE Michael Johnson, his former Bengals teammate. Johnson got the best of Collins a few times during one-on-one pass rush drills, but Collins held up well during the team periods.

"He got me better, plain and simple," Collins said. "We get each other better every day. It's unusual for a team to bring two elite players from another team to be on the same team. And every day in practice, we go against each other. We don't want to go against nobody else but each other."

Smith said he normally watches the seven-on-seven drills during that time but made it a point to be on hand for the one-on-one pass rush period.

One player who was particularly eager to be back in pads was RB Doug Martin, who tore the labrum in his left shoulder during a Week 7 loss at Atlanta.

"I was thinking to myself, the last time I was in pads, it was Atlanta," he said. "My shoulder is still intact; no pain. I'm good."

Flexible: DL Da'Quan Bowers is making himself more valuable by being able to play tackle and end. Smith said he believes Bowers has a chance to become a nickel inside pass rusher, a role similar to the one played by William Gholston as a rookie last season.

In the Demps: Former Florida star RB Jeff Demps showed off some of his Olympic sprinter speed when he beat MLB Dane Fletcher on a wheel route and caught a deep pass from Mike Glennon.

"To get a (middle) linebacker on the fastest guy in the NFL," Smith said. "I'd throw it to him, too."

Still healing: S Mark Barron said he still is not 100 percent after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in January.

Barron, hurt in a collision with Panthers WR Steve Smith on Oct. 24, said the procedure was needed to remove cartilage. He missed all of the offseason work but has been working with the No. 1 defense during training camp.

"I'm feeling pretty good, but I wouldn't say I'm 100 right now," Barron said. "I've just got to come out here and keep working, and, hopefully, I'll be ready before the first game."

Etc: CB Rashaan Melvin was in a walking boot after spraining his left ankle Saturday, but the injury isn't serious. … G Jamon Meredith suffered dehydration and was replaced on the first unit by rookie Kadeem Edwards.

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