Which Buccaneers started off the 2013 training camp the strongest? PewterReport.com's Scott Reynolds lists 10 top Tampa Bay training campers that impressed at One Buccaneer Place and during the team's night practice on Saturday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were granted a day off on Tuesday after five straight practices to start the team's 2013 training camp. Who were the top 10 Buccaneers that opened eyes and were the most consistent during the first week? PewterReport.com's Scott Reynolds identifies 10 top Tampa Bay training campers.
1. RB Doug Martin
Martin is having a fantastic camp and appears ready to pick up where he left off in 2012. Whether it is juking middle linebacker Mason Foster out of his jock on a middle screen pass, or using his burst to break off a big run, Martin looks electric on the practice fields of One Buccaneer Place. The Bucs are incorporating the second-year star out of Boise State more and more into the passing game and he will be an even bigger threat in Tampa Bay’s offense in 2013.2. WR Vincent Jackson
Jackson, who was Martin’s Pro Bowl companion last year in Hawaii, is still dominating after achieving personal bests with 72 catches for 1,384 yards in 2012. Jackson has been seeing time at his familiar split end position, but is also getting plenty of plays inside as a slot receiver in Mike Sullivan’s offense. The only cornerback that has shown he can hang with the 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver is rookie Johnthan Banks, who is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.3. DT Gerald McCoy
The Bucs’ Pro Bowl defensive tackle looked like he was in great shape last August and that set the tone for McCoy being able to play in all 16 games for the first time in his NFL career and record a career-best five tackles. A leaner, more muscular McCoy is in even better shape this year and has had a dominant first week of training camp. It doesn’t help the Bucs offense to have Ted Larsen and Cody Wallace manning the guard positions instead of Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph because McCoy is simply owning the line of scrimmage in camp thus far.
4. RT Demar Dotson
While left tackle Donald Penn and center Jeremy Zuttah have been steady, Dotson has been superb in pass protection in practice. In front of thousands at the Bucs night practice at Raymond James Stadium, he continued to stifle defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, which something he has down with regularity through the first week of training camp. Dotson is trying to fend off a charge from newcomer Gabe Carimi for the starting right tackle job, and his exceptional pass protection skills have him entrenched as the current leader.5. LB Lavonte David
The speedy David has been playing even faster this year because he has a year’s worth of experience in Bill Sheridan’s defense. Whether it’s sniffing out a failed attempt at a wide receiver pass from Mike Williams, or sacking quarterback Josh Freeman on a blitz, David has been making several big plays during the first week of training camp. Most importantly, David has been very consistent and has yet to have a bad outing through the first five days of camp. David is the fastest, most instinctive linebacker on the roster and his skills have been on display every day at One Buc Place.6. CB Johnthan Banks
Banks has been a sensational addition to the team and is picking up where he left off during the team’s OTAs (organized team activities) and the mandatory mini-camp. During the second training camp practice, Banks picked off Freeman and has broken up several passes intended for Jackson and Williams. Tampa Bay’s second-round draft pick has yet to play like a rookie and is putting himself in prime position to be a starter opposite Darrelle Revis. At the very least, the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder should be the team’s nickel cornerback on opening day in New York due to his physical playing style, his quick hands and instincts.7. WR Mike Williams
The Bucs’ starting flanker entered camp with a brand new contract extension and is earning every penny. Williams has made several acrobatic catches in practice, just as he has over his first three years in the league. While he must become more consistent on catching slant passes across the middle, Williams has opened eyes with his exceptional hands returning punts. While it’s doubtful that the Bucs would risk using him as the team’s full-time punt returner, Williams has done enough in camp to suggest that the Bucs use him strategically and situationally when the game is on the line this fall.8. DE Adrian Clayborn
While Bowers was getting most of the pre-training camp hype because he’s replacing departed starter Michael Bennett, who was Tampa Bay’s leading sacker in 2012, Clayborn is off to the better start. Looking lean and mean, Clayborn has made a full recovery from his knee injury and has fully participated in training camp. In fact, Clayborn is further ahead than either Revis or Joseph in terms of being able to participate in team drills in camp. Clayborn has been getting a stiff challenge from Penn, who is in phenomenal shape this year, on a regular basis, and wins some of those matchups. Clayborn is laser-focused on a big comeback year.9. WR Chris Owusu
While Kevin Ogletree and Tiquan Underwood are the featured competitors for the Bucs’ third receiver role, Owusu has been surprisingly thrust into the mix, too. Smooth and speedy, the former practice squad receiver has formed an unlikely rapport with Freeman and become one of his favorite targets in training camp. Owusu has been solidly entrenched with the second-string, but has gotten an occasional rep with the first team. If he can maintain his production throughout training camp, Owusu could be one of the team’s biggest surprises in August.10. RB Brian Leonard
The competition for the backup running back position behind Martin is wide open and features the likes of second-year Buccaneer Michael Smith, who has raw speed, rookie Mike James, who has some wiggle and good hands, newcomer Peyton Hillis, who has experience and power, and Leonard, who has versatility and a nice burst. Leonard had an impressive, long touchdown run in the Bucs’ night practice and has made the most of his opportunities to catch and carry the ball as he makes a charge for the No. 2 running back job. The fact that Leonard can also block and serve as a backup at fullback to Erik Lorig makes him even more valuable.
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