Postcard from camp: Buccaneers
At the Bucs' training complex in Tampa. Three full all-grass fields, and I'm pleased to see what good shape they're in considering the beating they take from an unforgiving sun every day in the summer. I watch the morning practice at 9, pausing to speak with old favorite Mike Alstott, who's just taken a high school head-coaching job here at a small Christian school, then spend some time with players, GM Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano. Today, the community-minded Bucs are hosting the Special Olympics after practice, and there's a boisterous group of Special Olympians on hand.
In the Bucs' cafeteria, the PR staff put Team SI (We're on the SI-EvoShield Training Camp Trip, with a party of five) in a side room so we could grill Josh Freeman. And grill a turkey burger. I had the grilled turkey burger on a wheat roll with raw onion, lettuce and tomato (B-plus), along with a mixed salad with balsamic (C; the lettuce was a tad on the other side of ripe), and a bottle of fruit punch G2. Grade: B. Freeman rather enjoyed his healthy meal, led by turkey, lettuce and tomato on whole-wheat bread, with red beans and rice.
So, just how important is the tandem of Aqib Talib and Eric Wright (I still am stunned at him making $7.5 million a year), the nominal starters with Ronde Barber moved to safety? Consider that the Bucs will face Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Mike Vick, Tony Romo and Matt Ryan a total of 11 times this season. The pass rush and secondary will be vital to keeping the Bucs in games this year, because I don't know how many shootouts they're going to win.