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Bucs’ defensive success against Miami only lasts one joint practice

Notes | The unit doesn’t allow the Dolphins to score a touchdown Wednesday, but that changes 24 hours later.
Dolphins wide receiver Braylon Sanders, pictured during the first joint practice, and his teammates found more success against the Bucs defense Thursday.
Dolphins wide receiver Braylon Sanders, pictured during the first joint practice, and his teammates found more success against the Bucs defense Thursday. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 11|Updated Aug. 11

TAMPA — When Tua Tagovailoa rolled and threw a pass to Mike Gesicki in the end zone, Dolphins wideout Tyreek Hill said he yelled “touchdown all the way.” Hill knew Miami’s fifth-year tight end would corral the ball.

“You know how Steph Curry do this and turn around when Klay (Thompson) is shooting the ball?” Hill asked afterward, imitating a basketball shot’s motion. “It was one of those moments for me.”

The Bucs didn’t allow a touchdown in their first joint practice with the Dolphins, but that changed Thursday. From Gesicki’s catch to a Tanner Conner touchdown from backup quarterback Skylar Thompson, Miami found ways to pierce Tampa Bay’s defense more than they did 24 hours prior.

Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett didn’t like “the way we played defense today.”

“I feel like we gave up too many plays and we didn’t make enough plays,” Barrett said.

At one point during 1-on-1s, receiver Jaylen Waddle created multiple steps of open space between him and Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis, and in 11-on-11 periods, Tagovailoa converted back-to-back touchdowns to highlight a red zone session.

The Dolphins incorporate misdirection into their offense, Barrett said, and if eyes dart to the wrong spot, Miami capitalizes. They also stretch runs sideline to sideline and use a cluster of motions at the line of scrimmage — “nothing straightforward,” Barrett said.

Competitions on special teams still unsolved

Ryan Succop converted all seven of his field goals Thursday, following a Wednesday session in which Jose Borregales — the competitor to unseat Succop — went 6-for-7. Borregales missed left from about 48 yards.

Rookie punter Jake Camarda has held for both kickers throughout training camp, positioning himself as the unit’s middle piece between long snapper Zach Triner and the kicking competition’s winner.

Another unsolved position is the returner. On Thursday, Jaelon Darden, Deven Thompkins, Scotty Miller and Kenjon Barner all received punts from former Buc Sterling Hofrichter.

Running game flashes

Running backs Kenjon Barner (38) and Giovani Bernard (25) glove up before working out Thursday.
Running backs Kenjon Barner (38) and Giovani Bernard (25) glove up before working out Thursday. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
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At times Thursday, the Bucs’ first-team offense found large pockets of space rushing the ball. Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard cut up the right and left sidelines, respectively, for would-be touchdowns. Dolphins safety Jevon Holland said some of that success stems from “tempo of the game” and the rules of tackling in joint practices, though.

“We’re not really trying to put contact on guys if you’re on the side of them — only when you’re head-up and you can square a guy up,” Holland said. “So a lot of the time, if they’re getting through the hole or if they’re not, we’re not trying to tackle anybody or anything like that.”

Odds and ends

Wide receiver Russell Gage (tweaked hamstring) didn’t practice again Thursday and is day-to-day, general manager Jason Licht said on 95.3 WDAE. Mike Evans (hamstring), Tom Brady (personal), Julio Jones, Josh Wells, Breshad Perriman and JoJo Ozougwu also didn’t practice. … Center Robert Hainsey returned after getting carted off Wednesday with leg cramps. ... Aaron Stinnie played left guard while Nick Leverett — at the left guard spot Wednesday — moved to second-team center. … Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said he doesn’t want to “get ahead of myself” with determining whether Tagovailoa or other starters will play Saturday. “I will say that based off of the last couple practices, I’m encouraged about the idea of not playing (Tagovailoa),” McDaniel said before Thursday’s session. “But again, that remains to be seen from what happens today.” McDaniel added later he’s “pretty confident” certain players won’t log snaps.

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