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Tampa Bay Buccaneers gear practices toward work week routine.

TAMPA — The Buccaneers, after months of summer workouts and nearly two weeks of training camp, finally are getting down to business.

Most of Wednesday's workout was geared toward preparing for Saturday night's preseason opener at Tennessee.

That means the offense and defense took turns working against scout squads designed to simulate the Titans. This is what practically every regular-season practice will consist of in preparation for the game.

"I tried to get some realistic situations for people who might be out there this week," coach Raheem Morris said. "This whole practice was Tennessee preparation."

The Bucs, like most teams, will play conservatively and not show too much of their playbook or tendencies. But Morris pointed out that with new schemes on offense and defense and a revamped coaching staff, there's not much known about this team.

"I don't believe we should hide anything," he said. "Nobody knows anything about us, so we're good."

HOW MANY QBs? After keeping four quarterbacks at final cuts the past two seasons under former coach Jon Gruden, Morris all but ruled out that possibility. That means second-year player Josh Johnson, currently No. 4, is the most likely to be cut.

"I see us keeping three," Morris said. "You're only allowed to keep 53 players. If four quarterbacks are the best guys, I may have to do that. … But you have to keep (who is) best for your team."

That said, Johnson is expected to play, perhaps extensively, in the second half Saturday. At worst, it's an opportunity to get exposure for the rest of the NFL.

"Josh has a big opportunity to go out there and play," Morris said. "He could go out there and splash and shoot right up the depth chart."

Johnson, along with rookie and first-round pick Josh Freeman, looked good at times during Wednesday's practice.

TICK TOCK: Coaches have tried to find ways to put players in stressful situations throughout training camp, and Morris has found another creative way of doing so. During a "blitz period" Wednesday, he started the 40-second play clock at 15 seconds once the huddle broke. That forced the offense and defense to make decisions under duress.

"They don't always get it, but if you can do it in 15, you certainly can do it in 40," he said. "In a game, you get caught up in emotions and the call doesn't come in on time and people start looking at the sideline and giving bad body language. I'm trying to eliminate that right now."

SWITCHING UP: LB Geno Hayes, who has spent most of the last year learning the weak-side position, has been taking numerous snaps on the strong side as coaches try to get him acclimated to playing both positions. Though the former Seminole isn't expected to win the starting job at either spot, it's clear coaches want to take advantage of his ability and perhaps have him serve as the top backup at both positions.

"They go hand in hand anyway," Hayes said. "You have to learn the other side in this defense, too. … The more you know, the more valuable you are."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers gear practices toward work week routine. 08/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 6:43am]
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