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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs hot reads: Secondary looking better

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Published:   |   Updated: August 6, 2013 at 10:16 PM

TAMPA - Bucs quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon had a difficult time completing passes against their defensive teammates during Tuesday’s workout. Sloppy play was partially, but not totally, to blame.

According to Bucs coach Greg Schiano, the secondary is playing at a level it seldom, if ever, did a year ago, when Tampa Bay had the NFL’s worst pass defense.

“They’re more competitive, eyeing balls, getting hands on balls,” Schiano said. “We’ve got our hands on more balls in these 11 practices than we probably did a large extent of last year. But that’s practice, let’s see how we do in the game.’’

Roll on up

After a slow start last season, Freeman caught fire as a passer once offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan made the bye-week decision to roll him out of the pocket more. Freeman had five consecutive games with a passer rating of 100 or higher.

“It fits him,” Sullivan said. “And we’ve had some success with it, where we’ve moved the launch point with him, whether it’s a pure sprint-out or we’re faking the ball or just having him run it naked. The defense always talks about getting the quarterback off his spot, so if we can beat them to the punch and take him off the spot, that helps.”

Looking ahead

Almost half of the players in training camp will not be with the team when the regular season starts in September. That’s why preseason games are important, offering a player not only the chance to make the team he’s with now, but also impress a possible future team.

“If it doesn’t work out with the Bucs, at least they have something on tape,’’ Schiano said. “If they can put good tape out there, they’ll have a chance to sign on with one of the other 31 teams.’’

Play of the day

RB Michael Smith has never played quarterback and describes himself as a terrible basketball player. But he combined the skills of both to pull off one of Tuesday’s most impressive plays.

During an 11-on-11 red-zone drill, Smith took a pitchout from Glennon, ran a couple of steps into the flat, stopped and popped a 15-yard jump pass — just like Tim Tebow — to TE Danny Noble for a touchdown.

“It was fun,” Smith said. “They called the play and we executed it the way we were supposed to. It was exciting.’’

Quote of the day

“Third down is big for us. We didn’t do that well last season on third down. That is something we are focusing on this year.”

— Bucs LT Donald Penn

Camp schedule

One remaining practice at One Buc Place is open to the public, no ticket required. Admission and parking are free. Fans can enjoy discounted concessions and autograph sessions.

Saturday: 10:10 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Preseason schedule

Thursday: Baltimore, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 16: at New England, 8 p.m.

Aug. 24: at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 29: Washington, 7:30 p.m.

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