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Injuries and big plays in Buccaneers training camp

The ups and downs of training camp show up after Hard Knocks.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Training Camp Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Day 11 of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp saw the team take the field the day after the premiere of HBO’s Hard Knocks. Several memorable moments came out of episode one, including offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s expletives, Jeremy McNichols’ relationship with “Coach Snoop,” and the team’s rookie singing competition. But the team, as always, has to stay focused and keep working towards their goal of making the playoffs and eventually the Super Bowl.

At practice today, there was a fair amount of 11v11 and 7v7 drills, including a new drill that’s been integrated in the last few days that Coach Dirk Koetter calls the “two minute drill,” where there’s a running clock and the quarterback has to quickly process the defense and command the huddle before the snap and also have situational awareness for when to spike it and make clean progressions.

The team also continued their emphasis on special teams, with several drills led by special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor where gunners would try to get as far downfield as quickly as possible, the personal protectors of the kick returner would work on picking up assignments and the general schematics. There were also some 1v1 running back and tight end vs defensive end and linebacker drills, and this is where you see the competitive nature of players in training camp.

Big Plays of the Day

Early on in practice, Jameis Winston shows what he does best — show up in big situations and making big plays under pressure. With seven seconds left on the clock in the first team offense’s two minute drill drive, Winston worked through multiple progressions and made a throw to DeSean Jackson in the back of the end zone, where he made a nice toe-tap grab and stayed in bounds for a touchdown. One of Winston’s biggest issues that analysts have pointed out so far is his tendency to lock onto one target or not work through his progressions, but you can see him survey the field here and work from left to right until he finds his man.

Here, backup quarterback Ryan Griffin rolls out of the pocket, doing a good job of sensing the incoming pressure and heaves the ball downfield, where receiver Josh Huff can make an athletic grab for a nice gain in the two minute drill for the second team offense. I highlighted it in the tweet, but of the current guys on the roster, I think Huff has the best shot at winning the fifth receiver job. He’s had some concentration drops and some technical issues, but I think with his value on special teams (I think he’s a near-lock to win the kick returner job) and ability to create explosive plays, I think he’s a logical fit there. He’ll have to earn it in the preseason, but I like what I’ve seen from him so far.

This is a ridiculous play but one that’s just fun to watch — backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throws it up to Freddie Martino, but both a safety and the corner covering Martino get in front of the underthrown ball and tip it up in the air. Second-year safety Isaiah Johnson almost makes what would have been a highlight-reel play in its own right with a juggling interception as he falls to the turf, but he ends up tipping it back up again! Martino then juggles it two to three times but eventually falls back, with his feet in the end zone, and makes the grab. Even if it’s a play that’s a result of several defensive mistakes, Martino makes a nice play on a ball you would think he had absolutely no chance at.

Here veteran back Jacquizz Rodgers, a favorite to take over as the starter for Doug Martin for the first three games of the season while Martin is suspended, does what he does best — make one cut at the line of scrimmage and accelerate into the open field in front of him and put some moves on defenders. My favorite thing that “Quizz” does is string together a series of cuts and jukes to get past defenders, and being able to create yards for yourself in a variety of ways (as a one cut and shifty back) is something that can only increase the reps you get.

This is a play design I can get behind the Bucs using more — a fake pitch to the left to the back and then Winston turning and improvising and making plays off play action, one of the things he does best. Here, Jameis is able to flick it to DeSean Jackson, who stomps his feet down in the corner of the end zone and is in for the touchdown. I think with a tight end like O.J. Howard or Cam Brate lined up to the right side of this formation, it could be even more deadly and allow for even more weapons for the defense to have to cover.

Although there was no video of the second play he made, CFL product Derel Walker, a college teammate of Mike Evans at Texas A&M, made two very nice plays today. The first one, shown above has Walker running a nice route where he’s allowed plenty of space for a ball that’s thrown a bit high and to the outside shoulder of him and make it despite the contest from undrafted rookie corner Maurice Fleming, who came in at the last second to try and break it up. The second play had Walker making a very nice toe-tap grab in the back corner of the end zone on a “50/50” ball, where Walker is relied upon to be able to leap up and make the play. Although Walker will likely have to carve out a niche on special teams to make the roster, today was by far his best day of camp so far, and he’s improving his odds.

Injury News

Four players were held out of practice today for the Bucs in receiver Donteaa Dye (ankle), corner Jude Adjei-Barimah (knee) and linebacker Adarius Glanton (unknown) and starting center Ali Marpet (ankle) were out for the second consecutive day. Coach Dirk Koetter said yesterday that Marpet’s injury was one they were going to allow him to rest for a few days so that he could be fully ready for Friday’s preseason debut in Cincinnati, but that they still want to see him get some game action at his new position of center so that he isn’t rusty for Week 1.

There was a slight scare when #1 corner Brent Grimes went down in the end zone and had to be tended to for several minutes, eventually with the cart coming out to take him off with what initially looked like an ankle injury. However, soon after the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud reported that it was a lacerated ankle and that Grimes collided with another player and was “cleated,” leaving a big gash on his leg. Coach Koetter confirmed the news after practice, and although he didn’t confirm that Grimes wouldn’t play Friday, with tomorrow being a travel day I expect the team to be precautionary and hold Grimes out in an inconsequential game.

What’s next?

Tomorrow, the Bucs will head out to Cincinnati in a travel day to get ready to take on the Bengals in their preseason debut on Friday. This should provide for some fun moments on “Hard Knocks” and it will be fun to see several key matchups and players to watch that I’ll detail in an game preview article Friday.