Day-11 of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp practice was the third open to the public, and Bucs fans came out in force again on what was the Bucs final day of practice in Tampa before heading to Miami for their preseason opener Thursday night. Even a couple dogs made it out to practice, and one even ran onto the practice field for one of the funnier moments early in camp.
A lot of the focus for Tuesday’s practice was getting in some work on red zone plays, and after practice Dirk Koetter talked about how the team knows it’s one of the biggest areas they need to improve on.
“That’s well documented,” the Bucs head coach said when asked about the team’s red zone work. “We got down in the red zone plenty of times. We didn’t score enough touchdowns. You gotta score touchdowns in the red zone somewhere between 55 and 60 percent of your drives. We were under 50 percent, and we gotta do better. We’re not gonna solve that in one day. The other thing is we’re going against our own defense, so you’re not game planning, you’re installing. Some things are going to raggedy at times on both sides. Some things are going to look good. We know we have to solve it, but we’re not gonna solve it in one practice.”
Many days at practice have been about the defensive side of the ball getting the upper hand on the offense, but Tuesday was more about install than it was about competition.
“Today we had a lot less full speed periods today, so I wouldn’t score today,” Koetter told 620 WDAE.
One of the reasons the team had to do less competitive periods today is because the team saw several players go down yesterday, including another offensive lineman in Cole Gardner.
“We had kind of a rough day yesterday from an injury standpoint, Koetter said after Tuesday’s practice. “That’s one of the reasons we had to cut it back today. We got a game Thursday night, and even though we’ve got 90 players, it seems like you always seem to get hit at one spot. Right now, we’re just a little bit thin in the offensive line and that effects everybody else. We’ll see, there’s still a lot of guys up in the air for Thursday night. Obviously, we’re not gonna take any chances for any player for preseason game number one.”
One player the Bucs will need to see more out of this camp and preseason is Ronald Jones, who has caught the attention of several in the media for the wrong reasons, but the Bucs head coach sounds less than concerned than others when it comes to the rookie back.
“I have faith in him already, Koetter told the assembled media. “I can see how he works, and I can see his explosiveness, so I already have faith in him. Preseason games are part of it. He didn’t play all those plays at USC and not be a good running back. Preseason is part of it, but I’m not gonna weigh that anymore than what I’ve already seen.”
Thursday night when the Bucs open up the preseason, many fans and those in the media will be focused on an offensive line in flux, a revamped offensive line, and just how the heck the Bucs are going to work out the snaps at quarterback, but if you talk to players like starting quarterback (for now) Ryan Fitzpatrick, the preseason is mostly about one thing, and that’s staying healthy.
“Success in a preseason game is coming out healthy, the quarterback entering his 14th season said. “It’s good in that, we’ve been banging heads with the same guys day in and day out. We get to go against a different scheme, some guys we don’t know so well, and they don’t know us so well. Just to go out there and run our base stuff and execute a little bit. Just to get that game feel back. Even going through warm ups and pregame and reestablishing that routine.”
The Bucs begin their preseason Thursday night in Miami, and will hold their next practice Saturday which will be open to the public.