TAMPA — Bucs coach Raheem Morris stopped practice in the final five minutes Sunday because he was upset by the lack of tempo by the offensive line.
He gathered his team and told it the next six plays would be full speed, live contact (but no hitting the quarterback).
On the next play, QB Byron Leftwich fumbled the snap, drawing an expletive from the coach.
Leftwich completed two of his next three passes, including a screen to Clifton Smith. Luke McCown threw the ball away on a play in which he likely would have been sacked by Gaines Adams. Following a running play to Smith, rookie Josh Freeman completed a short pass to Brian Clark to end practice.
"It wasn't planned," Morris said. "Actually, I didn't like the tempo at all up front from the o-line. It starts up front. I know it's kind of a coach's cliche, but it really does. If those up-front people aren't doing it right and the tempo is not being set by the quarterbacks, it's not going to look good. And it was offensive. The defense had it going pretty good. They were humming around. They were making plays. They were knocking down balls.
"I just wanted to prove a point to the offense. It's easy to run around in shorts, and it's easy to run around in that stadium (Saturday night) with the lights on and catch passes when you know you're not going to get hit. For the last six plays, I said, 'Let's strap it up and go live.' Those guys didn't want to do the tempo, so I'll do it. At the end of the day, I'm being held responsible for it anyway."
Morris also criticized the quarterbacks for failing to take charge of the tempo and execution on offense. Freeman threw three interceptions during the day.
"As a group, I didn't think they were very good," Morris said. "As a group, they did not do a good job getting the call from (offensive coordinator) Jeff Jagodzinski, taking it to the huddle, controlling the offense and leading the way.
"Any time your offense struggles, it probably starts right there."
WHAT A RUSH: LB Quincy Black is being put in situations in which he can rush the quarterback via a blitz or lining up as a defensive end.
"Quincy Black is one of those hybrid guys," Morris said. "We've got him a little bit at a rush end. He does that in certain situations. He's big enough. He's fast enough, and he creates a problem for certain tackles and creates a problem for people trying to block him.
"We've got him coming through with some linebacker stuff as far as blitzes. When he comes, he's a big, violent, physical human being; the kind of guys you like. You can use him in any situation."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: From Morris, on S Donte Nicholson's interception return for a touchdown after his receiver ran the wrong route: "You can't do that. If he runs the wrong route, there's no reason to throw it to him. Don't reward a guy and throw him a pass when he runs the wrong route."
TRANSACTION: The Bucs signed former USF G Ryan Schmidt. To make room, they released G Maurice Miller. Schmidt started 25 of 26 games for the Bulls the past two seasons. He originally signed with the Titans after going undrafted but was released Wednesday.
Rick Stroud can be reached at email@example.com.