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Bucs-Titans practice gets chippy, including dust-up with a Tampa Bay staff member

Duke Preston took offense to Titans defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons brushing him during a pass-rush drill.
Bucs and Tennessee Titans personnel gather at midfield during a joint practice Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Bucs and Tennessee Titans personnel gather at midfield during a joint practice Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee. [ MARK ZALESKI | AP ]
Published Aug. 17|Updated Aug. 18

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Bucs and Titans held their first of two joint practices Wednesday without much incident, except for one that included some unnecessary roughness and a bit of comic relief.

During a pass-rush drill between the Titans’ defensive line and the Bucs’ offensive line, Tampa Bay’s vice president of player engagement, Duke Preston, took the shotgun snaps as the mock quarterback.

Preston, who played center for the Bills and Cowboys in the 2000s, was brushed near the neck and head by Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons as Simmons surged past center Robert Hainsey.

Preston then fired the ball at Simmons, and pushing and shoving ensued.

Duke Preston speaks with former Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander  during a 2019 game.
Duke Preston speaks with former Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander during a 2019 game.

“I thought the competition was good (Wednesday),” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. “You are going to get a little close here and there. It can’t be totally clean. We’re trying to do the right things on both sides, and I thought we did a good job.”

However, Bowles said he didn’t watch much of the Bucs’ offensive players early in practice.

“I was on the other side of the field for the most part, so I didn’t see (Simmons),” Bowles said. “But I know he’s a great player. I really liked him coming out.”

Titans get better of 1-on-1 pass drills

Tennessee Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton (26) breaks up a pass intended for Bucs wide receiver Julio Jones (85) Wednesday in Nashville.
Tennessee Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton (26) breaks up a pass intended for Bucs wide receiver Julio Jones (85) Wednesday in Nashville. [ MARK ZALESKI | AP ]

Wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage were with the Bucs but did not practice.

Julio Jones did. So did Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson and Cyril Grayson.

But the Titans’ secondary did more than hold its own when practice commenced with 1-on-1 pass drills.

The Bucs’ quarterbacks were Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask and Ryan Griffin. Tom Brady is on an excused absence for personal reasons and will not rejoin the team until after Saturday’s preseason game against the Titans.

“I thought the work was good,” Bowles said. “I thought we looked tired going in, especially on both sides of the ball in the secondary and the receivers as well. So we’ve got to get some rest, and we have to come out here and practice fresher (Thursday). … I thought we had too many (mental errors).”

Bowles said Jones would not play Saturday.

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Ryan is adding the sauce

Bucs safety Logan Ryan (26) warms up before a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs safety Logan Ryan (26) warms up before a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]

You may recall that safety Logan Ryan played for the Titans and had a pick-six on Brady’s final throw as a Patriot.

Ryan, who signed with the Bucs in the offseason, was playing against one of his former teams Wednesday and said he is starting to add his flavor to Bowles’ defense.

“It’s a complex system, and I’m learning multiple positions,” Ryan said. “So I think I have a good idea of where they want me to be and how to get lined up. I’m a communicator in the defense, so I feel comfortable and confident to line people up.

“I think I know (the system) pretty well, so now it’s just finding different ways of knowing how to do my job and putting sauce on it, which makes me, me. Now I’m at the sauce stage, and I’m trying to get better week by week.”

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com. Follow @NFLSTROUD.

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