The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took to the field at Raymond James Stadium for the first time in 2014 for Night Practice, an annual event aimed at getting fans excited for the season.
Just shy of 15,000 got a look at the team going through a normal practice (with a couple of contests thrown in), and here are some of the important updates.
Rick Brown of The Ledger noted that six players weren't practicing under the lights. Alterraun Verner, Rashaan Melvin and Mike Jenkins missed the previous practice, while Dashon Goldson has been limited throughout camp as he works his way back from injury. David Gettis pulled up during a recent practice, while Evan Dietrich-Smith had his foot stepped on and should be fine.
Oniel Cousins and Jamon Meredith got the start at guard in 9-on-7 drills, but the Bucs have been rotating the first-team guards during practices, so this isn't necessarily indicative of the battle so far.
We still won't truly know how things are going on the interior of the line until it's another team lined up against them in a preseason game, but for now, there are slivers of hope that at least one of the players battling for a spot can deliver an acceptable performance at the position this year.
In the Trenches
There were apparently some really good battles in the one-on-one drills between linemen. Here are some of the highlights.
DE William Gholston with a nice bull rush against RT Demar Dotson in 1 on 1 drills #Bucs— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) August 2, 2014
DT Clinton McDonald shows an explosive first step in 1 on 1 drills. He's having a good camp #Bucs— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) August 2, 2014
1 on 1 drill-- DT Gerald McCoy blows right past G Jamon Meredith. Not even funny #Bucs— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) August 2, 2014
(Many thanks to Tom Krasniqi for his updates!)
I don't think we learned anything new from these Tweets and photos, but that's not a bad thing. The Buccaneers' defensive line is more talented than the offensive line, but from time to time, the O-line gets some stops and wins some battles in camp.
As it turns out, Vincent Jackson is pretty good at football. He continued to show good chemistry with Josh McCown, but also with...
#Bucs RB Mike James, who threw a TD pass last year vs Seattle, tossed a 17-yarder to Jackson in two minute drill tonight.— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) August 2, 2014
Mike James? The Miami product hasn't stood out in camp that often so far, but connecting on a trick play and getting positive comments during other parts of practice is encouraging for the team's depth at running back.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins was also a topic of discussion, as both TKras and Anthony Becht compared him to other tight ends in flattering fashion. Becht's Gronk comparison is one I made while watching his film and considering his athletic profile, and while he's got a long way to go, tonight's performance seems like a step in the right direction.
Mike Glennon stood out under the lights, and with no updates about Josh McCown, I'll provide the few bits of commentary about the Bucs' backup QB that popped up on Friday night.
WR Chris Owusu hauls in a long pass over the middle from QB Mike Glennon for a big play. Pretty throw by #8 #Bucs— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) August 2, 2014
At #Buccaneers evening practice.... Glennon putting on a show (power, touch). Rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins also having a good practice.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 2, 2014
Oops. QB Mike Glennon loses the football as he rolls to his right near the goal line in 7 on 7 drill #Bucs— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) August 2, 2014
Glennon's big play came over the middle of the field, a place where he's very comfortable throwing the ball deep. (The long touchdown to Tiquan Underwood last season is a perfect example.) His accuracy to the sidelines remains a question that has been unanswered to this point in camp.
But Caplan's comments can't be ignored. There weren't many other quotes on the QB situation coming through on Twitter, so we're left with a neutral day for McCown and a positive day for Glennon, despite an uncontested fumble from the NC State product.
The real winners at QB on the night were Alex Tanney and Mike Kafka, who tied to win the QB competition (which featured multiple trick shots, something Tanney should have won easily, but apparently his YouTube days are just a distant memory).
Here are some assorted special teams tweets as the Bucs attempt to figure out who is going to return punts and kicks this year.
Eric Page wins the jugs punt catches with four. #bucscamp— Rick Brown (@LedgeronBucs) August 2, 2014
#Bucs doing KR drills. Patton had a decent return but nobody taking the bull by the horns yet in camp— WDAE 620 AM/95.3 FM (@620wdae) August 1, 2014
Herron just completely muffed a punt return with no one around him.— BucsBrief Podcast (@BucsBrief) August 1, 2014
Page has been clean catching punts— BucsBrief Podcast (@BucsBrief) August 1, 2014
Patrick Murray drills a 56 yarder to beat Connor Barth in the FG challenge.— BucsBrief Podcast (@BucsBrief) August 2, 2014
Herron continues to prove that he's not a punt returner, and seems to only be getting a chance to return them in camp because he's fast and shifty.
Page and Patton are probably the best all-around return men on the team, but they'll have to be good enough as receivers as well to be members of the 53-man roster.
And the backup kicker won the field goal challenge, but don't expect a Derek Dimke-like surge in popularity for Patrick Murray. Connor Barth is a virtual lock to begin the year as the Bucs' kicker.