An enthusiastic crowd greeted the Bucs as they hit the field in pads for the first time Saturday night.
The west-side stands at Raymond James Stadium were packed as fans filtered into seats in the north and south end zones for Tampa Bay's third practice of training camp.
"It was nice to see all those fans come out and support us,'' said RB Doug Martin, who finished third in the league in total yards from scrimmage as a rookie.
Fans were treated to a post-practice fireworks show and several former Bucs attended the drills, including Ronde Barber, Anthony "Booger" McFarland, Chidi Ahanotu and Shaun King.
"I thought the crowd was excellent,'' DE Da'Quan Bowers said. "It looked like there were a lot of fans here tonight.''
Veteran G Davin Joseph, who missed every snap last season following knee surgery, was all smiles as players walked off the field.
"It was exciting to see the guys put the pads on today," Joseph said. "I missed football a lot and it was great to see all our fans. We're starting to really connect with our community in more than one way."
As you might expect, the group of players sitting out practice because of injury is starting to grow. On Saturday, CB Danny Gorrer, FB Erik Lorig, DT Gary Gibson, TE Zach Miller and DE William Gholston sat out for unspecified reasons.
They joined a group that already included TE Luke Stocker (calf), DE Markus White (foot) and P Mike Koenen (foot).
Learning on the fly
Rookie QB Mike Glennon says he's still a long way away from learning the offense. You wouldn't have known it from watching him run the 2-minute drill during Saturday's night practice.
Against a unit of mostly second-team defenders, Glennon drove the Bucs into position for a game-tying field goal during a mock 2-minute drill, only to see K Lawrence Tynes miss a 42-yard attempt.
"I wouldn't say I have much of it down," Glennon said of the offense. "I'm understanding more and more of it every day. It's still going to be awhile, so the preseason games will be a huge help."
One on one
As the players scattered for different exercises, fans were treated to an individual pass-rush battle in the trenches between an offensive lineman and a defensive counterpart seeking to exert pressure.
While the offense won the overall drill, DT Gerald McCoy proved too quick for T Jamon Meredith and DE Adrian Clayborn fought his way past first-year T Mike Remmers.
Quote of the day
"He should have a lot of motivation seeing all of these quarterback signings. Shoot, I know I would if I were him."
- Bucs LT Donald Penn on whether QB Josh Freeman is ready to have a breakout season.