The Bucs' practices are now closed to the general public for the rest of the preseason, but the team had 1,000-plus active and retired military veterans and their families as guests for Thursday's morning practice.
"Being in Tampa, you know where they are and what they do for us," coach Lovie Smith said. "Whenever we can say thanks, let them come out and enjoy. They protect us, always, and now we get a chance to just entertain them. We look forward to that day."
The team played the national anthem before Thursday's practice -- Smith said it was important for players to put themselves through every aspect of what they do on game day in the preseason. Receiver Vincent Jackson, whose foundation works extensively with military veterans and their families, said it was a privilege to have them as guests Thursday.
"It's awesome for them to come here and us to be able to open our arms to allow them to be part of our practice," Jackson said. "We're in the dog days of camp right now, but you can feel their energy. Guys were a little turned up today, seeing the uniforms on the sideline. The national anthem still gives me goosebumps.
"I made sure all these young guys went over there, shook every hand, signed every autograph after practice for everyone there, their family members and kids. It's important. These guys make the ultimate sacrifice. They're the true heroes of our country. They may think they're supporting us, but it's humbling to pick their brain for a minute and let them know how thankful we are for them."