Some observations from the first Tampa Bay Buccaneers' minicamp practice:
1. Backup quarterback Mike Glennon connected with second-year receiver Kenny Bell on a deep pass along the right sideline while Bell was working against cornerback Johnthan Banks. Bell also has developed quite the chemistry with quarterback Jameis Winston, with the two hooking up last week in similar fashion in OTAs.
2. Receivers Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy were both held out of practice. Murphy continues to recover from season-ending knee surgery. In their absence, Mike Evans was getting a lot of attention, as was Russell Shepard. Shepard, the special teams ace, turned in a solid practice, making several notable catches, including ones in traffic.
“Shep is one of those guys that he’s known for his special teams play, but he’s just always hanging around at wide receiver,” Koetter said after practice Tuesday. “You can’t break that guy, no matter how hot it is. Other guys in and out with injuries, Shep is always here. Coaches always say the number one ability is availability, and Shep is always available. He’s in the mix.”
3. A few months removed from signing a five-year contract extension, Doug Martin looks far more like the Martin from 2015 versus 2013 and 2014, when he struggled with injuries and lacked explosiveness. He showed excellent burst, taking a handoff and running along the left sideline to the end zone.
4. Receiver Bernard Reedy looked very elusive with the ball in his hands, catching a short pass from Winston and dodging multiple defenders coming from the slot. Reedy spent the 2014 season and a brief portion of 2015 with the Falcons.
5. Safety Chris Conte intercepted a deflected pass from Winston during 7-on-7s. He was getting first-team reps with Bradley McDougald, while Brent Grimes and Alterraun Verner were lining up at cornerback. Jude Adjei-Barimah was getting reps with the first-team defense at nickel back.
6. First-round draft pick Vernon Hargreaves III has been lining up at nickel with the second-team defense. Second-round defensive end Noah Spence has been lining up with the twos. Aside from kicker Roberto Aguayo, no 2016 draft picks have cracked the starting unit yet, suggesting that Koetter is truly making them earn it.
7. Luke Rhodes, an undrafted free agent out of William & Mary, is practicing with the second-team defense at middle linebacker.
8. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith had Spence drop back into coverage on two consecutive plays. He did some of that in college, including playing the LEO defensive end/linebacker role at Ohio State, but he was mostly known as a pass-rusher. He certainly looks the part of an athletic defensive end, with his chiseled shoulders and lean frame, but if he can truly cover, it’ll give the Bucs' defense a whole new dimension and give some validity to the Von Miller comparisons.
9. Kevin Pamphile, who lined up as an extra offensive tackle last season, continues to get reps at left guard with the first-team offense while J.R. Sweezy recovers from injury. Sweezy missed practice along with center Joe Hawley, who was replaced by former starter Evan Smith. With the Bucs only dressing seven offensive linemen on Sunday, Pamphile’s versatility will be a huge asset.
10. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken had an interesting way of coping with the 90-degree temperatures that made Tuesday’s practice an absolute scorcher. He could be heard talking (and shouting) about glaciers and Alaska. While it didn't seem to make the temps feel any cooler, it made for a good laugh.