Bucs ramp up intensity in preparation for season

TAMPA, Fla. — If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggle this year, it won’t be for a lack of preparation.

The Bucs, who have packed this month with Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and a minicamp, went through a pretty lengthy and intense session Monday, which I am told is par for the course.

Quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson took the brunt of the snaps, as these long workouts seemingly are intended to get each player as much work as possible — especially Freeman, the starter.

Coach Raheem Morris told me that Freeman has begun the process of establishing ownership of the team with his work ethic and by directing the offense. Freeman’s evolution in Year 2 — his first as the starter from Week 1 — will factor heavily into Tampa Bay’s success, or lack thereof.

He still seems to be working through some of the nuances of the Bucs’ version of the West Coast scheme and the coaches are adding more plays and reads for him and his new group of receivers.

As for Freeman’s targets, the wide receivers are a physically imposing group, especially rookies Arrelious Benn (6-1, 219) and Mike Williams (6-1, 221). Williams is the more vertical threat of the pair and based on things people in the organization told me, the Bucs have big plans for him if what he’s doing in shorts and a practice jersey translates when the pads come on.

The player who’s been generating the most buzz is CB Aqib Talib. Things apparently are starting to come easily to Talib, a highly talented — and emotional — player who is entering his third season.

First-round draft pick DT Gerald McCoy‘s progress is hard to gauge because these are non-contact drills, but the reviews have been favorable. Second-round pick Brian Price has not attended voluntary workouts because of the rule that prevents players at universities still in class from participating. The defensive tackle is expected to join the team later this week.

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