TAMPA — Before heading into their first off day of training camp, the Bucs finished Tuesday's practice with their first live tackling session of camp, and second-year running back Ronald Jones used the day's final session to show his explosiveness.
Jones broke off two big gains to the outside, including for about 60 yards down the right sideline after catching a pass in the flat down and breaking three tackles before he was stripped by cornerback M.J. Stewart.
"It was great to get some live contact," Jones said. "The linemen are doing a great job up front and me, just running off their blocks and then I've just got to take it the distance and just get to that foot race."
Jones has looked good so far this camp, but seeing him break tackles was a welcome sight after he struggled in limited playing time as a rookie.
“He’s an explosive player,” coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s going to be a heck of a player for us. He’s going to make big plays for us. ... He’s probably best between the tackles, but he took that one around the end and nobody could catch him. He’s got that breakaway speed and the size. His best runs have been tackle to tackle until that one.”
Arians said Jones will have the opportunity to win the starting running back job from incumbent Peyton Barber, but both will play a big role.
"It's going to be a heck of a 1-2 punch, and whichever one is the one and whichever one is the two, they're both going to play," Arians said.
The live tackling session was a welcome change for players on defense as well.
"We needed it, we haven't done it since the last game of last year, and longer for me," said cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who missed most of last season due to injury. "You need it because you've got to be able to take guys to the ground, you've got to see who can tackle."
Arians said he will plans to have another live tackling session next week and there will be a live tackling when the Bucs host Aug. 13-14 joint practices with the Dolphins.
The Bucs will be off tomorrow and resume practice Thursday.
"That's a hard five days in a row, and that's probably the last time we go five days in a row until next year," Arians said. "They pushed through it today."
* Seeing Mike Evans depart Tuesday’s practice prematurely on a cart couldn’t have felt good for Bucs fans watching the end of practice, but Evans was just dealing with some major cramping in Tuesday’s heat. “He’s just getting some fluids,” Arians said. “He’s fine.”
* Arians admired Winston’s hustle attempting to tackle safety Jordan Whitehead, who recovered Jones’ fumble. About 40 yards downfield, Winston made a diving effort on Whitehead, missed, then got to his feet and covered Whitehead when he went to the ground. “That’s enough of that," Arians said. "I love the effort. Always tackle with the left shoulder.”
* Rookie Sean Murphy-Bunting stepped into first-team reps after starter Carlton Davis exited Tuesday’s practice with a pulled muscle.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.