TAMPA — With only a couple of days left before they move into more of a regular-season-like practice schedule, the Buccaneers appear to have won the training camp battle they waged with Mother Nature.
The Bucs, who made the risky decision to hold most of their camp workouts late in the afternoon, when thunder showers are most prevalent, have lost only one practice to weather concerns.
Even on Monday, after a hard rain forced the team to cut practice short and abandon a period devoted to the two-minute drill, coach Lovie Smith couldn’t bring himself to complain about the weather.
In fact, Smith actually seemed to welcome it. So did some of the players.
“The guys know that it’s a part of life down here,’’ Smith said. “Every day we’ve been out here there has been a threat of rain, and when it does come, that’s what we use it for.
“You’re trying to prepare for the season and the odds are we are going to have a couple of wet days. So you have to take advantage of it. And that is great work. It was another good practice.’’
As far as veteran C Evan Dietrich-Smith is concerned, it was one of the better practices of camp. Not necessarily from an execution standpoint, but from a comfort standpoint.
“It made it a little cooler,’’ Dietrich-Smith said. “It was refreshing in all honesty. It was kind of like taking a shower outside. We’re usually out there getting beat down by the sun all the time, so it was a nice change. I didn’t mind it a bit.’’
Neither did rookie TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A Washington native and University of Washington product, he’s no stranger to rain, but he said Florida rains are like nothing he has experienced before.
“That’s some real Florida stuff right there,’’ he said. “And it was great. I loved it, because the rain here is warm. In Washington it’s cold and icy and you just want to go home.’’
The NFL is cracking down on defensive holding this year. During their annual review of new rules, game-day officials are telling teams that they intend to strictly follow the letter of the defensive-holding law.
That rule says defensive players cannot put their hands on a potential receiver once the would-be receiver has run more than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage. Smith says he is strongly reiterating the message to his players.
“What I’m telling them is pretty simple,’’ Smith said. “Keep your hands off of them after 5 yards. I mean, that rule has been in play forever, but the officials just haven’t called it as much.
“And what they’ve done now is, they haven’t changed the rule; they’re just calling it more. And the officials came in and talked with us, so coaches, players, we all know it.
“So that’s what we’re telling our guys. After 5 yards, keep your hands off them, because they’re going to call it, and that’s a big penalty. It’s like anything else. We just have to adjust and that’s what we’ll do.’’