After a few days of underwear football and partially closed practices, Sunday really felt like training camp. It was the 1st day in full pads and the 1st day the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened up practice to the general public. The day started outside in the heat and then concluded inside the brand spanking new indoor practice facility. It was the 1st day the coaching staff got to see what all of the rookies could do with the pads on and the 1st day a lot of the new faces got to feel the Florida heat in all of that gear. As any 1st day in pads does, Sunday had ups and downs. There were some rookies who shined and others who struggled. Early on in practice receivers worked on ball security, Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to flourish with the 1st team, and the defensive line got the better of the o-line.
The 1st day in pads also tends to be the 1st that sees injuries. The Bucs were very lucky in the 1st 3 days with Vernon Hargreaves, leg laceration being the only setback. Sunday was a different story. The biggest news was 1st round pick, Vita Vea leaving practice early with an apparent leg injury. Adam Schefter would later report that the defensive tackle suffered a calf strain. Later in the practice it was the o-line that took a hit after practice moved indoors. This time it was Leonard Wester who was the victim of a leg injury in a scrum. Those injuries got some shine for some players near the bottom of the depth chart who are just fighting to make the team. Vea wasn't working with the 1st team at all and an injury this early in camp could certainly leave an even bigger hill to climb to pass Beau Allen. Wester's injury particularly hurts because he was taking 1st team reps for Demar Dotson who hasn't yet participated in 11 on 11 drills.
Once the practice moved indoors the defensive line and rookies continued to be the story of the day. Jason Pierre-Paul was wreaking havoc on the offensive line and making multiple disruptive plays in the running game. Javien Elliott showed that even with rookies, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart looking good that he still has a stake in making this team with a sack on Jameis Winston. Late in the practice though the offense started to look better. Ryan Fitzpatrick made connections with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, Peyton Barber was trucking people no matter what color jersey they were in, and rookie Justin Watson showed some flashes of why there are some that think he could beat out guys like Bernard Reedy and Bobo Wilson to make this football team.
After practice was over our guys had all of the reaction covered from all angles. Dirk Koetter glowed about M.J. Stewart's fast start, Vinny Curry praised the defensive line, and Ronald Jones was hard on himself on a day where he committed a few mistakes. We also had multiple exclusive interviews. TKras spoke to new defensive lineman, Beau Allen about how the unit is coming together. Zac Blobner spoke to tight end O.J. Howard about how things could be different for him in year 2. Len Martez spoke to Bernard Reedy about how he seems to be in a battle to make this team every year. Finally, Trey Downey spoke with M.J. Stewart about his fast start. Check out all of those below.