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Bruce Arians, audience pleased with Bucs’ first day in pads

The Bucs staged their first padded workout of training camp before a standing-room-only crowd.
Veteran Ndamukong Suh (center) and fellow defensive linemen Vita Vea (50), Rakeem Nunez-Roches (56) and Steve McLendon (96) prepare for the Bucs' first practice in full pads Saturday morning.
Veteran Ndamukong Suh (center) and fellow defensive linemen Vita Vea (50), Rakeem Nunez-Roches (56) and Steve McLendon (96) prepare for the Bucs' first practice in full pads Saturday morning. [ JOEY KNIGHT | Times ]
Published Jul. 31
Updated Jul. 31

TAMPA — He was among the first to arrive on the AdventHealth Training Center fields, which stood to reason. Bucs rookie Joe Tryon hadn’t put on pads, or put on for an audience, in 19 months.

On a sweltering, partly cloudy Saturday morning, the 22-year-old edge rusher did both.

“It felt good,” said Tryon, who opted out of the 2020 season at the University of Washington. “I didn’t put pads on since December 2019. It’s been a long time coming. I feel like I made strides, and today was a great first day in pads.”

That sentiment was shared by his head coach. A day after blasting his team’s sluggishness, Bruce Arians offered generally high marks for the 2021 Bucs’ first padded practice, staged before roughly 2,000 season-pass members and suite holders.

“Much better today. It looked more like football practice instead of soccer,” Arians said.

“A lot of guys look great in shorts, but they disappear when the noise level goes up. ... I can’t wait to grade the tape. Good ebb and flow. I thought everybody practiced to win rather than practiced to practice, and it was a good damn day.”

Favorably influencing Arians’ initial impression was the fact that neither the offense nor defense dominated. Case in point: During 11-on-11 work, inside linebacker Devin White had a leaping interception of a Tom Brady throw, prompting Brady to scream an expletive in frustration.

Brady responded with a deep scoring throw to Antonio Brown in a two-minute situation. Elsewhere, safety Mike Edwards had his second interception in as many days (this time of backup Blaine Gabbert) in two-minute work, while veteran cornerback Antonio Hamilton also picked Gabbert.

In run situations, the left side of the first-team line created a gaping hole for Leonard Fournette on the day’s first 11-on-11 play from scrimmage.

Each big play, naturally, prompted a hearty ovation.

“This was a huge crowd compared to last year,” said defensive lineman William Gholston, referencing the shortened 2020 camp that featured no audience. “It was fun to be able to get the fans back into it and see them and know that they’re supporting us.”

Odds and ends

Inside linebacker Lavonte David was absent Saturday; Arians said it a was designated “vet day” (day off) for him. ... Gholston turned 30 on Saturday, meaning three prominent members of the defensive-front rotation (Gholston, Steve McLendon and Ndamukong Suh) now are 30 or older. ... Tight end O.J. Howard logged what is believed to be his first 11-on-11 action since suffering a ruptured Achilles against the Chargers last October. “He looked fine,” Arians said. “Can’t wait until he can do the whole practice, but he looks okay.” ... Ali Marpet, who played a little center early in his career, on third-round draft pick Robert Hainsey’s transition to the spot: “He really wants to be great at it, so I love that. I think the curiosity’s there...picking people’s brains, trying to figure out how to be the best player. And usually guys like that, that have that mentality, succeed in the NFL.” The second-team offensive line Saturday featured LT Brad Seaton, LG Aaron Stinnie, Hainsey at center, RG Nick Leverett and RT Josh Wells.

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