TAMPA — The Bucs continue to battle the issues you expect with a young team, namely maintaining intensity at practice.
On Thursday, it took coach Raheem Morris stopping the workout and deviating from the script with a full-speed, full-squad, live-tackling period to get it.
"We just have to understand consistency in our tempo," Morris said. "We have a young football team. It's hard for these guys to get out there and really get it going unless they're going live. Then I make them go live, and they want to keep going live.
"But you can't practice like that. … You have to be able to come out and play at a high tempo without taking each other to the ground. We need to keep each other healthy so we can make it through the season."
Morris is trying to use live drills more selectively than during his rookie season last year.
"These guys went live (Tuesday), and they want to do it again (Wednesday). And they're asking for more (Thursday)," he said. "I guess it's a good thing, but I'd like for them to come out with a better tempo right off the bat.
"We just have to increase the consistency of the tempo and kind of self-motivate. It's the approach. It becomes a routine. Somewhere in your mind as a player, you can't let it become routine. We just went through a live period, and nobody thought about limping. It was easy. Everybody knew there were real bullets flying and it was time to go. Then you go to a (nontackling) period and it's like, 'Oh, do I pull up here or do I ease up here?' Everybody's got to work at a high tempo."
LISTEN UP: The Bucs tried to simulate game conditions for the first time by using radio communications with the quarterbacks and middle linebackers as opposed to coaches being on the field.
Because much of training camp involves installation of plays and coverages, coaches often need to be on the field giving instruction. But at times when installation is not taking place, the team will often take advantage.
There's an added benefit beyond adjusting to the communication method. Coaches also get a chance to familiarize players with changing personnel groupings, something that happens routinely in games. One misunderstanding can result in a big play for an opponent.
"Any time you get a chance to communicate with your quarterbacks and (middle) linebackers from the sidelines, that's always a good practice," Morris said. "That was something we worked on: substitutions from the sidelines. You call different personnel, and you've got to change. We just want to simulate the urgency."
KNOCK ON WOOD: The Bucs haven't had any injuries of consequence yet, a welcome change after a 2009 preseason that included notable injuries to P Josh Bidwell, WR Antonio Bryant and WR Michael Clayton.
On Thursday, RB Clifton Smith and DT Brian Price missed practice for the second straight day with mild hamstring injuries. Both are day to day.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com.