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Schiano defends Bucs aggressive practices

The SportsXchange

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano prides himself on his tough-nosed, no-nonsense approach. But he took exception to a media report that the team's offseason practices involve too much physical contact in violation of NFL rules.

The controversy stems from a physical altercation last week between Illinois rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence and center Jeremy Zuttah, who played for Schiano at Rutgers.

On the first team drill of the first OTA practice, Spence and Zuttah had to be separated. Despite league rules that prohibit excessive physical contact between players during offseason practices, there were a few more instances where players were pushed to the ground. The incidents were referenced in a report by Profootballtalk.com Wednesday.

A team can be made to forfeit practice time and coaches can be fined for violating the no contact rules for offseason practices.

On Wednesday, Schiano claimed that his coaching staff teaches the proper techniques for non-contact practices and believes what the Bucs do is permissible.

"You're right, guys are chomping at the bit because this is what they do for a living," Schiano said. "But there are very clear expectations and rules presented by the league. We get a training video and then we also at our league meetings get to watch permissible versus impermissible play. I'm very confident that our practice tempo is 99.9 percent the plays are permissible.

"We had one that got kind of fanfare or whatever you want to call it in a young guy mixed up with Jeremy Zuttah, and you know, Jeremy educated him, maybe not the right way, like you don't do that. But we spent a lot of time about keeping your head gear, keeping your shoulders out of it. So we're playing 11-on-11 football but you use your hands and you use your feet and what we try to do is stay on edges and work with our hands and feet and then everything is tag tempo, so we tag off on ball carriers."

Schiano said the Bucs have educated their players about the proper amount of contact which is allowed during the offseason, when players are allowed to wear helmets but no pads.

"To say with 22 people on the field, they try to get out of the way when they tag off, do they sometimes run into each other? Yeah, it happens.

"But clearly in watching the training videos, I feel confident that we're doing it the right way. I'm very big on (how) I expect them to do things on and off the field and it's no different for me. There are rules set by the NFL and I'm expected to follow them and I do everything I can to."

--Bucs backup safety Cody Grimm, arrested twice the past three months on public intoxication charges, said he made an "error in judgment," but hopes he gets another chance.

"I've learned from my mistakes, and it won't happen again, I promise you that," Grimm said. "I know the way they do things around here, and it's not the Buccaneer Way. I can't change anything in the past, besides to learn and move forward."
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