Several practices at One Buc Place are open to the public, no ticket required. Admission and parking are free. Fans also can enjoy discounted concessions, autograph sessions and appearances by the Buccaneers cheerleaders and the Captain Fear mascot.
The popular night practice at Raymond James Stadium starts at 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Parking lots will open at 2:30 p.m., with autograph vouchers — required for all active-player signings — distributed through the box office in the South Plaza starting at 3 p.m., and autograph sessions beginning at 4 p.m. A fireworks show will end the evening. Practices open to the public (dates and times subject to change):
Today: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Saturday: 6:45-9 p.m. (at Raymond James Stadium) Monday: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Wednesday: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Thursday: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Aug. 2: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Aug. 3: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Aug. 6: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Aug. 10: 10:10 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Preseason schedule Aug. 8: 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.
Bucs rookie CB Johnthan Banks doesn't presume to have all the answers. But he knows where to find 'em. The second-round draft pick out of Mississippi State figures to play a prominent role for Tampa Bay this fall, vying for a starting spot opposite Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis. Banks, 23, is savvy enough to shadow Revis during training camp and pick up some pointers. "I talk to (Revis) all the time," Banks said after Thursday's opening practice. "If I see him talking to a coach, I'm going over there to listen. He's the best at what he does, so why not listen to the best?"
Banks won the Jim Thorpe Award last year as the nation's top college defensive back. His lack of elite speed scared off some NFL scouts, but the Bucs like his mental makeup and 6-foot-2 frame. "He's very long and athletic," Bucs WR Tiquan Underwood said. "They threw him right into the fire today, and Banks responded very well." Banks knows he's stepping up in class. He's not in the SEC anymore, and the NFC South is loaded with big-play receivers such as Roddy White, Julio Jones, Steve Smith and Marques Colston. "Guys in the pros are bigger, faster and smarter," he said. "But I know the playbook, and my confidence level is very high right now." Weather conditions K Lawrence Tynes has played nine NFL seasons, and in all that time he has played just 11 games in a domed stadium. That's about to change, and Tynes can't wait. The Bucs will play four games this season in domes - at Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis and New Orleans. Tynes expects those games, plus the mild Tampa weather, to allow him to expand his range a little bit. "I can make any field goal on the field," said Tynes, who signed with Tampa Bay last week after K Connor Barth tore an Achilles tendon playing in a charity basketball tournament. "But a lot is dictated by weather." Tynes spent the past six seasons with the New York Giants kicking primarily in the East Rutherford, N.J., wind tunnel that is MetLife Stadium. Whether it's due to weather or something else, Tynes has made just 51 of 77 field-goal tries of 40 yards or more in his career, including 11 of 21 from 50 yards or more. "That's why I'm excited about this opportunity here," said Tynes, who is competing in training camp with undrafted rookie Derek Dimke. "The weather here is beautiful.'' Duel in the sun Entering his fifth NFL season and second with the Bucs, Underwood knows better than to take a roster spot for granted. Underwood, who played for Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, made some big catches for the Bucs last fall, including a 62-yard reception against Kansas City. Now, Underwood is facing a major challenge to keep his job as a No. 3 receiver who excels at working the middle of the field. The Bucs signed Kevin Ogletree as a free agent from Dallas, and there are some younger wideouts in the mix as Tampa Bay sorts out its 2013 depth chart. "It's part of the game,'' Underwood said. "Me and Kevin understand it's a battle, but we help each other. We're teammates trying to help each other with our craft. At the end of the day, the best man will win.'' Both sides now Only three years removed from a 1,177-yard season with the Browns, RB Peyton Hillis comes to the Bucs hoping to contribute in any manner as a backup to rookie sensation Doug Martin. "I've been humbled the past couple of years, and I'm happy to be in a place where they want me, a place I can try to produce again,'' said Hillis, who averaged only 3.6 yards per carry in the past two years with Cleveland and Kansas City. Ira Kaufman, Roy Cummings