TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers open up against the New Orleans Saints one month from Thursday, but have yet to go offense versus defense in practice. They’ll do so Friday, with padded practices coming Monday.
How concerned is coach Bruce Arians about star quarterback Tom Brady missing an offseason and getting such a late start with his offense?
“Yeah he’s probably the least of my worries right now,” Arians said Thursday. “He’s where he needs to be. We need to get more live reps. Blocking, tackling — this game’s a blocking and tackling game. Fourteen days to block and tackle. Is that enough? And I hate tackling ourselves. We don’t want to road-block ourselves, but we’ve gotta get ready to play a game. I think that’s the biggest disadvantage — not being in pads and not playing fast.”
The offense and defense took the field together for the first time Wednesday, in front of the entire coaching staff in a private practice. Thursday they did the same, with practice open to the media. Last week, they were mostly conditioning with only the strength and conditioning staff on the field.
Things will ramp up Friday when offense and defense go against each other for the first time. Arians will get to see Brady throwing passes against more than just air, a true test to where he is with the offense.
“Just playing fast,” Arians said. “He knows what he’s doing. But now the speed is going to pick up for the first time for him. Seeing how he processes the information that he thinks he knows and we’ll find out what he does know and doesn’t know at a much higher pace, and we haven’t gone against our defense and we’re very complicated defensively, so it’ll be a lot of fun for him.”
Last year, quarterback Jameis Winston struggled against Todd Bowles’ aggressive defense early in training camp, throwing a high number of interceptions. But Brady has seen this defense before, going 8-1 against Bowles when he was head coach of the New York Jets and when he was the interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Brady is also known for getting the ball out of his hands very quickly. As far as how Brady is handling the transition to Tampa Bay, Arians has vowed to treat him like any other player.
“He’s just another guy,” the coach said last week.
Added Arians on Thursday: “He gets cussed out like everybody else,” which the coach said happened this week.
“He did a little bit yesterday because he likes to throw the ball in walk-throughs and we don’t throw the ball in walk-throughs. But not very bad.”