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No fighting rule enforced at Bucs-Dolphins joint practices

Bucs journal: Coach Bruce Arians says players who engage in fighting will be ejected.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, center, walks the sideline during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Published Aug. 12

TAMPA — Bruce Arians is excited to see how his Bucs squad matches up against another team in a practice format, but said he won’t tolerate any fighting when the Bucs host two days of practices with the Dolphins starting today at the Advent Health Training Center.

“Everything is just to (make) each other better, not to get hurt,” Arians said following Monday’s abbreviated indoor practice. “There will absolutely be no fighting. If you fight, you’re out of here. So it’s a matter of practicing against somebody to make you better and have good respect for each other.”

Fights have broken out at joint practices already this preseason, with skirmishes taking place between the Rams and Raiders last week and the Packers and Texans.

“Nothing ever good comes out of it,” Arians said. “The teams I’ve been on, only one I think we had a problem. You never get anything done. It’s all about helping each other get better, not (flexing your muscles).”

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Arians said that the structure of joint practices will be much like a regular practice, with defenders going full speed toward ball carriers until holding up at initial contact and no tackling downfield. There will be two live tackling sessions at the end of each practice — goal-line session and a two-point play session.

But certainly practicing with the Dolphins will give the Bucs a different look and offer coaches another opportunity to evaluate players.

“It’s really good to go against somebody else because sometimes going against yourself, you get a false sense of security or you don’t really get a true evaluation until you see it against someone else,” defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers said. “Then, you can really assess what you have or what you don’t have and go from there, or see where the improvements need to be made, but the work against somebody else is truly invaluable.”

The Bucs will play their home preseason opener Friday against the Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium.

No worries with Murphy-Bunting after opener struggles

Rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting’s struggles in the preseason opener were well documented by Arians, but cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross said he’s not concerned about the second-round pick moving forward.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) attempts to tackle Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Tanner Hudson (88) during training camp on Wednesday, Aug. 07, 2019 at the AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa. ALLIE GOULDING | Times

“That’s called ‘Welcome to the NFL’ — you’re close, but you didn’t make it," Ross said. "He’s going to be okay. I’m not worried about him a little bit — he’s going to be okay. He just has to have the experience of playing in a big game like that right there, with all the situations. Like I said, he’s learning the situations as well. He’s getting baptized as we speak. All of them are in the same boat.”

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Ross said Murphy-Bunting — whose 29.8 defensive grade, according to Pro Football Focus, in 38 snaps on Friday was the worst among Bucs defensive players — will take the game as a learning experience. And Ross, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback who played in the league for 14 seasons, knows from experience.

“They understand the nature of the position now," Ross said. "This is the most scrutinized position in the NFL. When they give up big plays, it’s easy to see them. They’re not A-gap, B-gap players like linebackers and linemen. They’re field players – they take guys all over the field and they understand now what it’s going to take mental and physically-wise how to play the game.”

Miscellany

• Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett missed his second straight practice with an ankle injury. Arians said Barrett, who played 20 defensive snaps in Friday’s game, is considered day to day.

• In assessing running back Dare Ogunbowale, who is battling for a roster spot, Arians said he has trust in Ogunbowale on all three downs.

• Quarterback Jameis Winston threw an interception into the corner of the end zone, a ball that was picked off by Kentrell Brice, but Arians said O.J. Howard ran the wrong route. “It would have been a perfect touchdown if O.J. had run the right route,” Arians said. “He got two words mixed up. But those long balls to Mike (Evans), keep throwing them.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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