Well, it was my first day at training camp as a fully credentialed member of the media. Immediate perks include better parking and free coffee and soft drinks. I like it much better already. The early morning practice didn't keep the fans away, as the bleachers were very nearly full by 9:00am.
The one thing that immediately struck me about training camp this year was the different atmosphere. Schiano has instilled quite a sense of urgency and seriousness that was lacking under Raheem Morris. Players jog from area to area. There is little laughing and joking around. Everyone is earnest and had their serious faces on (or maybe they were just out of breath).
A few notes from my day:
- Vincent Jackson inspired boos from the crowd around 9:15 when he dropped a routine slant from Freeman. He immediately won them back over on his next go round with a very acrobatic catch that maybe only ten guys in the league can make. Jackson also torched Talib down the sideline later on on a long bomb from Freeman.
- Greg Schiano seems to really be taking Aqib Talib under his wing. I saw him pull Talib aside on at least three different occasions and speak with him after Talib was involved in a play.
- Doug Martin looked wonderful catching passes out of the backfield, and the new and improved version of Legarrette Blount lived up to the hype. He also looked more fluid out of the backfield and had several nice grabs.
- I'm not sure if rookie Michael Smith can usurp Preston Parker as the primary punt returner, but his speed is electrifying. Sammie Stroughter really has his work cut out for him if he wants to make this roster.
- Josh Freeman seemed to be having some accuracy issues with his intermediate routes early on in practice, but seemed to have the kinks worked about by the end as he seemed very accurate. He did make some questionable decisions in the 7 on 7 drills and threw into traffic on a few occasions. Freeman's deep ball looks fantastic.
- 5th round draft pick Najee Goode seemed to have very little opportunity to impress the coaches, as he saw very little time in the linebacker spot. He did manage to jump and break up a Brett Ratliff pass towards the end of practice. He also lined up with the kickoff team.
- As former Bucsnation blogger and current 1010 Bucs Insider Craig Smith pointed out to me, it seemed like the vast majority of defensive drills took place away from the fans and media.
- Mark Barron is huge. He is quite a bit more physically imposing than the other members of the secondary.
That's it for today folks. A sick wife and child at home made it necessary to leave before I had a chance to land any interviews after practice. I promise to make up for it when I attend the night practice next Saturday and try to bring you guys some exclusive content.
I did get lots and lots of pictures today, and although my old digital camera is far from great, I think some of them turned out fairly well. Check them out after the jump. A note on the pictures. I apologize for a few of them being a little blurry and/or using too much contrast. I also hoped to caption all of them, but as I'm already pushed for time, you guys will just have to use your imaginations and your rosters to create captions for these pics. Hope you enjoy them: