BY: Kevin Weiss
When it comes to football, it is often said that when the pads are put on, the ‘men’ get separated from the ‘boys.’ Today was the first day the fans and media were able to witness how Bucs players performed with all their equipment on.
Playing in the sweltering heat with the pads on was an adjustment, but that’s exactly what Lovie Smith wanted as he tries to use the Florida heat to his advantage against opponents once the regular season comes around: “Most of our games will be played around that one-to-three slot-this is them getting ready for it.”
The good news after the first padded practice is that there were only a few minor bumps and bruises, but no major injuries that should set any players back.
One of the biggest questions coming in was how running back Jeff Demps’ world-class speed would translate when he was forced into full football gear. All indications point to him transitioning very well as he made a beautiful TD catch against man-coverage on a go-route down the left sideline on a deep throw from Mike Glennon.
According to Lovie, Demps could be a perfect fit on third down and short situations:
“Most of the time on third and short, as a defense you have to play some sort of man-to get a Mike linebacker on the fastest guy in the NFL, I would throw it to him too.”
Another big question for the Bucs was how quickly the offensive line would gel as a group and how the guard position would shape up.
Offensive line coach George Warhop didn’t give off the impression he was worried at all: “I like the guys we have competing. We’re rolling them through until it gets solidified, but I think we’ve got some pretty good prospects.”
One of the consistent themes that have been laid out by Lovie Smith is that he is looking for many players to slim down and lower their body fat. He has made it clear that weight is overrated, but strength is not.
Running back Doug Martin believes shedding pounds all around is a good philosophy going forward: “ Being overweight causes injuries, so you’ve got to keep your body weight in check.”
• Quote of the Day: “It’s always tough the first day of pads after running around in your underwear for so long.”-MLB Mason Foster on the first day of padded practice.
• In order to simulate avoiding a pass-rush, Bucs coaches would throw a Swiss ball at quarterbacks as they tried to make a throw downfield.
· Doug Martin looked sharp catching screen passes out of the backfield from Josh McCown as well as running wheel routes and angle routes.
· Martin also had a TD-run on an outside zone handoff from the 15-yard line in the red zone.
· There was a bit of a scary moment after WR Vincent Jackson dove for an overthrown ball and landed sharply on his left shoulder. He sat out for just a few plays and was evaluated by trainers before re-entering.
· Mike Glennon had a very good showing, consistently completing passes while targeting Charles Sims and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins on quick outs and seam routes.
· One of the highlight plays of the day was 6-5 WR Tommy Streeter running an intermediate crossing route and making a leaping snag in heavy traffic on a crisp throw from Mike Glennon.