TAMPA — As the first phase of Bucs training camp ended late Saturday morning, first-year coach Todd Bowles warned everything — humidity, scrutiny and legs — gets heavier from here.
After a day off, the Bucs will hold their first practice in full pads Monday.
“A lot of supposedly sacks may not get there, and a lot of supposedly runs may not get there,” Bowles said following the workout staged before another standing-room-only audience of several hundred at AdventHealth Training Center.
“So we’ll see what comes of what, but we’re trying to make each other better and get ready for the season. We understand we’re on the same team. We want heavy competition, but we want to play smart and figure things out.”
While saying he has been pleased with the “mental part” of the first four practices (all held in shorts and helmets), Bowles noted everyone’s mental threshold will be challenged starting Monday, when the intensity, physicality and play installs increase.
Hence the reason he remains measured with his individual assessments.
Following second-year center Robert Hainsey’s first full workout with Tom Brady since starter Ryan Jensen’s knee injury during Thursday’s practice, Bowles said the former Notre Dame captain was “going to the right places and doing the right things out of pads,” while acknowledging that far greater challenges await.
Hainsey’s only noticeable glitch Saturday: a high shotgun snap that sailed over Brady’s head during 11-on-11 work.
“His work will come in pads when he goes up against Vita (Vea) and (Akiem) Hicks,” Bowles said. “So he’ll get a lot of good work that way, but he did everything good, and so did (center Nick) Leverett.”
Ball hawks at the ready
Practice in pads can’t come soon enough for the Bucs defense.
Lavonte David punctuated the end of practice Saturday with a leaping interception of Brady, who was looking for Tyler Johnson across the middle on second and 6 from the opponent’s 27-yard-line.
A few minutes earlier, rookie safety Nolan Turner picked off a severely underthrown ball from Kyle Trask — intended for Vyncint Smith in the left flat — and would have returned it for a touchdown.
Fourth-year linebacker Devin White noted the defense managed to create takeaways without a true pass rush.
“The teams with the most turnovers (are) always the last four teams playing, so I think that’s where we want to be and that’s what we focus in on,” he said.
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Tampa Bay forced 29 turnovers last season, tied with the Chiefs for fifth in the NFL. During his rookie season in 2019, White recovered four fumbles in just 13 games, returning two for touchdowns, and caught the only interception of his career. He has recovered one fumble in each of the past two seasons.
Takeaways can be difficult to work on while taking care of teammates on offense, but White said ball drills and other parts of the turnover circuit ensure it’s still a point of emphasis.
“Because that’s what we pride ourselves on,” he said, “getting (Brady) back the ball so him and that offense can work.”
Odds and ends
Rookie defensive lineman Logan Hall, who was pushed into Jensen’s left knee (resulting in his injury) on an inside rush play, spoke for the first time since the incident: “Unfortunately, that’s part of ball, right?” he said. “People get hurt, people get twisted up. For him to be the caliber of player and the leader on the team is real unfortunate, and I had spoken to him after and he was in really high spirits. So that was good to see.” ... Left tackle Donovan Smith, defensive tackle Hicks, receiver Julio Jones and tight end Kyle Rudolph all were given a “vet day” and held out of practice.
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