The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans wrapped up two days of joint workouts Thursday in the sweltering Florida heat.
A couple of players lost their cookies on the practice field as the heat took its toll on them.
Both coaches Bruce Arians of the Bucs and Mike Vrabel of the Titans, are big fans of joint practice sessions. Arians is a firm believer that most of the time, you can get more work done during these sessions than you can in a preseason game.
You know you’re going to get all the situational work: red zone, third down, first down stuff, run-pass options. You put them in certain scenarios that sometimes never happen in a game.
Many times these sessions turn ugly, and it’s one fight after another. Arians and Vrabel both said they wouldn’t be tolerating any fights.
Wednesday, things went as planned. Thursday, tempers flared, and Herb Miller and Antonio Brown were removed from practice for extra-curricular activities. They were both back on the practice field minutes later.
Arians was not happy with the amount of dropped passes. He liked the physicality of the practices—the Bucs wide receivers versus the Titan’s defensive backs:
They’re very physical guys – good press coverage, very physical. That’s exactly what you want to practice against. The quarterbacks need to see those guys working those routes, other than just fade balls. Working routes against press coverage, and I thought we got a lot out of that area.
Offensive lineman Ali Marpet liked that these practices seemed a lot more realistic, and the team was able to practice more game-like situations:
It’s definitely much more realistic. However, you still have your scenarios. You have your red zone period, your third-down period, so it’s nice just to get a different look, a look that is a little bit less scouted, so that’s nice. It’s fast and physical, which is game-like.
Tom Brady likes working against another team in practice, especially a team as talented as the Titans:
They’re good. They’re challenging, obviously, very good fundamentals. Very stout in the run game. They try to confuse you in the secondary, which they did a good job of that today a few times. Obviously one of the better defenses in the league. A lot of good players. It was good work for us.
The defense played well against the Titans offense, although they did not get the number of takeaways they wanted.
The running back battle between Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette continued. Arians tried to clear up any misconceptions about what it means as to who the starter will be.
It really won’t matter who starts. I’m very, very confident in both of them. Ro is catching the ball really well. Leonard’s running really well, so we’ve got a premier back going whoever’s out there. It’s not a matter of who comes out of the tunnel. We’ll come out as an offense. Whoever gets the first series, the other guy might get the second, so it doesn’t really matter.
Arians had high praise for Giovanni Bernard, the free-agent running back the Bucs signed in the off-season. When asked how Bernard has been doing in camp, Arians didn’t hold back.
I would say more than ‘pretty good. I would say the best thing about him; he’s the ultimate pro. He’s super-prepared. He came every day in OTAs when he didn’t have to. He wanted to be a major part of the offense, and he is already.
The Bucs will go with three running backs. Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, and Giovanni Bernard have already made this team. The Bucs could carry a fourth, and that would be Ke’Shawn Vaughan.
Vaughan had a good game last week against Cincinnati on special teams and will get another opportunity this week to showcase his abilities.
The Bucs will rest most of their starters on Saturday against Tennessee. Blaine Gabbert will start at quarterback for the Bucs.