Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs trade the gridiron for the diamond

TAMPA — As Bucs QB Jameis Winston serenaded his teammates with Take Me Out to the Ball Game in warmups, it was obvious something was going to be different about Monday's practice.

Thunderstorms that dumped rain on the practice fields at One Buc Place forced a closed practice at Tropicana Field. Aside from not wearing pads as planned and a little post-play dustup with the offensive line by DE Robert Ayers, coach Dirk Koetter was pleased with the way the Bucs handled the audible.

"They did fine. They did a good job on that," Koetter said. "It's a change of environment. Different. Adjust and improvise. That's what we do. There's not many options on a day like today. We did fine. We'll see what the tape looks like here in a little bit. We got our work in. That's all we could do."

With the forecast calling for similar conditions, Koetter said it's likely the Bucs may return to the Trop today, but no decision has been reached.

"If the weathermen are right, I'd say there's a decent chance we'll be going back there," Koetter said. "But we'll play it by ear. These fields drain fast."

Two Bucs players were slightly injured Monday as a result of the hard turf. RB Charles Sims received treatment on his ankle and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins iced his hip after falling hard on a catch in a red zone drill. Koetter said neither injury was serious enough to keep them from practice today.

"We did have pads scheduled for (Monday and today), but I just didn't think with going over to the Trop and the way it was going to be set up with the fields on the turf and not having the lines, all that kind of stuff, I just thought it would be better if we went in shells," Koetter said. "That automatically makes those guys back off a little bit and I wanted to keep those guys off the ground so we weren't hitting the turf. But we got all our reps."

Getting physical: Ayers was involved in a little post-play altercation with the offensive line after a deep competition from Winston to Mike Evans. Ayers said he is looking forward to Thursday's preseason opener at Philly.

"It's an opportunity to come out and take out our frustration on another team," Ayers said. "They got a lot of talent over there. Their expectations are high. Ours is high, too.

"Now, when you win your rush, you don't have to slow off … you get an opportunity to go against some guys that don't have that filter, that level of taking care of each other. There's no more of that. It's no holds barred. They're seeking blood and so are we. It's going to be a good challenge and we're looking forward to it."

Ayers didn't apologize for the scuffle.

"You're battling against someone every day," Ayers said. "You're supposed to be mad and responding with anger and emotion. It happens. The good thing about that is we have a lot of pros and it's in the past. We'll move forward and get better. If something happens (today) — if I get beasted — I'm going to get mad and try to respond. If I beast them they're going to get mad and try to respond. There are a bunch of guys going against each other's neck and that's a good thing."

Missing Buc: G/T Kevin Pamphile had his third excused absence from practice for personal reasons. He is expected to return today.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

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