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Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope uptempo workouts give club advantage in heat

TAMPA — Much has been made of the uptempo workouts under new Bucs coach Greg Schiano.

There's certainly very little down time, with a deliberate (and quick) pace and players hustling even during water breaks.

Schiano, having learned from his experience coaching at the University of Miami, said the tempo is partly to give the Bucs the edge when it comes to playing in the heat during the season.

"That has to become our advantage," Schiano said. "Having coached down at the University of Miami, and having coached in the north, when you get teams out there in that stadium, and it's really hot, and you play a high tempo and you push the envelope, I think it becomes an advantage. And I think it's something that's important to me, and it's got to be part of our advantage."

Ex-coach Raheem Morris had a similar mantra but also tried to "beat the heat" by practicing earlier and doing some in-season workouts at Tropicana Field. It seems as though Schiano has a different approach.

PENN PERSPECTIVE: T Donald Penn said he already notices more optimism around town about the Bucs.

"Every time people see me out — compared to last year (when) they looked at me and then looked down — now they're chatting with me," Penn said, smiling. "I think it's coming."

But Penn said the team learned a difficult lesson last season, going 4-12 after a 10-6 record in 2010.

"When last year is over, it's over," Penn said. "You can't think you're going to do the same thing as last year the next year by just showing up. You've got to put in the work, put in the effort. I learned it. That's probably my second time learning it. It's a hard lesson to learn because when we were losing last year, it was tough."

ON TRACK: Schiano has been pleased with the progress of QB Josh Freeman, especially considering all the things being thrown at him.

"He looks good," Schiano said. "He's grasping it well and working very, very hard. I'm really encouraged."

NO SWEAT: Though K Connor Barth held out for a long-term deal after having the franchise tag applied, he wasn't worried about any snags in the process. Barth showed up to the workouts last week as a sign of faith and shortly after signed a four-year, $13.2 million contract.

"I think my parents were more nervous than anything. … It was good," Barth said. "That's why you hire a good agent (Rob Roche). It's all about the trust. I stayed out of it the whole time. (GM) Mark (Dominik) and my agent took care of everything. I really wanted to get down here, so it was kind of my move to get down here and be at OTAs and hopefully speed up the process. So it was good."

LOOKING AHEAD: The Bucs signed WR Preston Parker to a one-year contract extension.

The deal, first reported by NFL.com, includes a $50,000 signing bonus, and he'll earn $1 million in 2013. Parker was set to make $540,000 in non-guaranteed base salary as an exclusive free agent this year.

IN AND OUT: Bucs S Mark Barron, the team's first first-round pick, did not participate in Tuesday's workout. Neither did WR Dezmon Briscoe nor DT Brian Price. But Schiano said all communicated well, and he had no problems with the absences. "First of all, this is not mandatory," Schiano said. "Second of all, guys have different things come up. My whole thing is communication."

LOCAL FLAVOR: The Bucs signed WR Greg Ellingson, a former Robinson High and Florida International University standout. Ellingson entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Jaguars after the 2011 draft. He most recently played for the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League.

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope uptempo workouts give club advantage in heat 05/22/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 10:38pm]

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