By Tom Krasniqi

 

The fireworks lit up the night sky over Raymond James Stadium on Friday night.  The fans —an estimated 15,000— were in midseason mode.  They were enthusiastic all night long.  

 

Welcome to the annual night practice.  For the new players, it was the first taste of their new home stadium.

 

“It felt great,” rookie running back Charles Sims said after practice.  The 3rd round pick out of West Virginia got his first taste of being in his new home.

 

Sims summed up the feelings for many of the new players.  They were wide-eyed in their new surroundings.  For others who have been there before, the night practice was a good way to reacquaint themselves with the friendly confines.

 

“I haven’t been out here since I broke my ankle (Week 10 vs Miami last year) so it was good to get back out here and run the ball, get in the endzone—I had a good time,” running back Mike James said.  “I enjoyed it.”

 

The new Bucs quarterback got to experience the night practice for the first time.   And Josh McCown believes it was a valuable experience.

 

“Overall, I think it was good day for us to get into the stadium—kinda get a feel for it overall,” McCown said.  “It’s just different, the depth perception of everything… getting used to the stadium.  So it was good to get out here and get that work in.”

 

The offense got the upper hand late in practice in the 2-minute drill.  The offense cashed in with two field goals late against the defense.  

 

Big plays were made on both sides of the ball and the intensity was high.  It’s all building towards the season opener on September 8th.

 

“We’ll be ready for Carolina,” head Lovie Smith vowed as he was interviewed before practice in front of the crowd on the video screen.  

 

The fans roared in approval.  Tonight was just a little taste.

 

 News & notes:

  • CBs Alterraun Verner (hamstring), Mike Jenkins (leg) & Rashaan Melvin (ankle) did not practice.  
  • Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, WR David Gettis and safety Dashon Goldson were in uniform but not practicing.  Head coach Lovie Smith says Dietrich-Smith had his foot stepped on during practice and should be OK.  Gettis has a gimpy hamstring while the team gradually works Goldson back to full strength after offseason foot surgery.   
  • With Dietrich-Smith not practicing, Jason Foster took the first team snaps at center.  Oniel Cousins lined up at left guard while Jamon Meredith was at right guard.  
  • RB Mike James continues to show off his arm— he hit WR Vincent Jackson on a 17-yard TD pass off the halfback option.  James threw a TD pass to Tom Crabtree last season in Seattle.  
  • 1-on-1 pass rush drills: LT Anthony Collins did a nice job in locking up his former Bengals teammate and DE Michael Johnson.  Collins did not give up a sack all of last season and has terrific feet.  
  • DT Gerald McCoy blew right past G Jamon Meredith.  #93 looks explosive and ready for another All-Pro type of season.  
  • DE William Gholston had a nice bull rush against RT Demar Dotson
  • So far, nobody has emerged in the kick and punt return game.  Eric Page, Robert Herron and Solomon Patton are main candidates.  Jeff Demps hopes to get a shot as well.   
  • Rookie TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins hauled in a TD pass in 7 on 7 drills.  He looks so much like former Patriots TE Ben Coates.  The resemblance is uncanny.
  • QB Mike Glennon threw a beautiful pass down the middle to WR Chris Owusu for a big play in team drills.  Owusu continues to impress. 
  • Former Bucs RB/KR Michael Smith has signed with the N.Y. Jets.  
  • The Bucs are off on Saturday.  The next training camp practice open to the public will be on Sunday from 4:30pm-7pm at One Buc Place.  For more details on practice times, check out 620wdae.com and buccaneers.com.  
  • Keep it locked on 620am WDAE and 95.3FM as well as the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the best Bucs coverage.