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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Morris alters Bucs' practice after loss to Patriots

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 07:06 PM

Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris planned to give his team a much needed rest prior to last week's preseason game.

The Bucs had training camp for 19 days with only three days off. They had practices twice-a-day seven times. Tampa Bay also dominated Kansas City in its first preseason game, solidifying Morris' plan to reward his players with time off.

Then there was Thursday's game against the New England Patriots.

Tampa Bay was physically dominated on both sides of the ball. Morris' team trailed 28-0 at halftime with his starters playing most of the half. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was in regular season form. Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman did not look comfortable.

That is why Morris altered his team's practice times and activities after a 31-14 loss.

"I was going to give them off," Morris said. "Let them get their bodies back, but the reason being, getting those guys back on the field and around each other again is how you get rid of those cobwebs."

Morris cleaned out the cobwebs by sending two messages this past weekend.

First, the Bucs were scheduled to have a team activity (movie watching) on Saturday, plus have Sunday and Tuesday off. Morris added practice to Saturday's itinerary, but after rain cancelled Tampa Bay's on-field work, they were forced to lift weights.

Morris also made Sunday into a practice day, is giving his team today off, then practices every day until Saturday.

In addition, Morris addressed his players for their lackluster performance against New England.

"I challenged the receivers," Morris said. "That is a game they have to win. A team comes in and plays bump-man on Mike Williams, he's got to win. A team comes in and plays bump-man on (Dezmon) Briscoe, he's got to win, Sammie (Stroughter), whoever. Kellen (Winlsow) didn't play, but I blamed him for not playing.

"You got to win those one-on-one battles and that's exactly what New England did. They came in and played man (defense). They just beat us up."

New England had 383 offensive yards compared to Tampa Bay's 244, but Morris was more concerned about his team being physically and mentally outplayed.

"They had a couple of zero blitzes and they won," Morris said. "They made Freeman hold onto the ball, eventually the protection broke down and they hit him. We got to win those battles. The bottom line is, some of those plays last year Free (Freeman) made we didn't draw upstairs.

"Mike Williams just won (his one-on-one battle) against Atlanta. Spurlock just won against Cincinnati with the toe-tapper (catch), we kicked a field goal, and ran off the field. Those things got to happen, too. Those plays got to happen by big-time players. We got a bunch of young guys for a reason. We want to be lively, we want to be energetic, kind of like our practice today."

Morris was more than pleased with his players on Sunday.

Tampa Bay was originally scheduled to practice for an hour, but Morris extended it by 30 minutes for more instruction, which his players appreciated.

"I was anxious for today, to get back on the practice field," Bucs center Jeff Faine said. "I was anxious to get that taste out of our mouth and that was kind of the point of putting the shoulder pads back on today and getting past the Patriots and moving on and getting prepared for the Dolphins this week."

Morris previously said Tampa Bay did not game plan for New England, but his staff is treating this week's contest against Miami like a real game. While winning is important, Morris said he wants to teach his young team how to perform in many game-time situations.

They just learned a hard lesson about poor play.

"The thing that heals fast for young teams, and we always talk about bouncing back fast, is getting back on the field faster," Morris said. "A lot of times when you get a loss, you want to cancel the bye day so you can get out there on that off day Tuesday and start thinking about football again rather than sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself about the loss.

"So it was great to get those guys out there today, get them competing, have one of our last good on good practices. That was good on good, ones vs. two, twos vs. ones, etc. Across the board it was really competitive, so I loved that practice."


When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. TV: CBS, Ch.10 (subject to blackout locally)

arichardson@tampatrib.com (813) 259-8425