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Looking back at our Bucs pre-training camp battle series. Let’s take a look at how things are starting to shake out after the first week. We’ll take a look at the offensive side of the ball first.

QUARTERBACK:  Ryan Griffin, Kyle Trask

Bucs QB Kyle Trask

Bucs QB Kyle Trask – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

After one week in camp there is no denying that Griffin is ahead of Trask on the depth chart, as well in snap counts. The rookie has shown flashes that prompted the Bucs to select him in the second round, but he has been inconsistent with his reads, throws and decision-making. You can chalk it up to being in his first NFL camp and getting used to pro level speed, but it’s been up-and-down for Trask, as expected.

While Griffin has had his struggles as well, he is seasoned in the offensive system. The upcoming preseason games will shed more light on Trask’s ability to command the offense in a game setting. While he is a lock to make the roster, he clearly needs more time to get adjusted to the pro game.

RUNNING BACK: Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette

Billed as the biggest battle in camp, the competition has not disappointed. With nearly a 50/50 split in snaps with the first team, a clear winner has not emerged in the first week. It’s hard to gauge the running back position in training camp due to a lack of tackling. The preseason games will help determine who might get first down snaps once the season begins, but neither will play that much.

While both have caught the ball well, Fournette did struggle a bit during Monday’s practice. The veteran jumped offsides and logged two drops on the day. Although I feel the starting running back will be based mostly on matchups each week, there is a long way to go in this battle.

WIDE RECEIVER: Jaelon Darden, Tyler Johnson, Jaydon Mickens, Cyril Grayson, Travis Jonsen, Josh Pearson, T.J. Simmons

Darden has been quite impressive in camp. His quickness and first step off the line has beaten the likes of even Carlton Davis in camp. Darden will obviously make the final roster and looks certain to be active on game days as well.

Bucs WR Tyler Johnson

Bucs WR Tyler Johnson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Once thought to be a near certain lock, there are questions about Johnson’s spot on the roster. Recently coach Bruce Arians called out the young receiver for coming into camp overweight. Johnson acknowledged the sentiment on Tuesday, saying that Arians was right to call him out. But Johnson has also been impressive during practices, making several impressive grabs each day. The numbers game at wide receiver could make it hard for Johnson to get a hat on game days without special teams contributions. Keep an eye on preseason action to see if Johnson can make an impact in that area.

Conversely, Mickens has looked improved as a receiver in camp, and has a history of special teams play. The Bucs top return man last season has been splitting duties at returner with Darden during camp. If Darden shows he is not quite ready for that role, the team could elect to keep Mickens. Even if Darden is ready, Mickens experience as a gunner could help convince the team to keep seven wide receivers.

Pushing the top candidates to fill out the wide receiver room are Grayson, Jonsen, Pearson and Simmons. All have made plays throughout camp. Grayson’s speed is something that Arians loves to have on the roster. That speed has shown up several times in camp with big plays.

A former quarterback, Jonsen has shown tremendous improvement as a wide receiver and was valuable on the scout team last year. Pearson and Simmons have made splash plays throughout camp, but much like Grayson and Jonsen, seem to be on the outside looking in.

TIGHT END: Tanner Hudson, Jerell Adams, Codey McElroy

Hudson has caught nearly everything thrown his way in camp. Benefitting from Cam Brate’s absence on the PUP list, he has been making the most of his opportunity. Working into the rotation, Adams had been a pleasant surprise in the battle for the fourth spot. McElroy has had a few standout practices as well.

When Rob Gronkowski had a maintenance day and O.J. Howard was still in the process of returning, McElroy had a nice day with several big receptions across the middle of the field, drawing praise from Gronkowski after practice. Hudson seems to have the inside track on the fourth spot if they intend on keeping four tight ends.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Brad Seaton, Nick Leverett, Sadarius Hutcherson, John Molchon

The backup offensive lineman competition early in camp looks like it’s down to two players vying for the ninth spot. Seaton is leading the way by getting snaps at both tackle spots. After opting out of last season due to COVID, the tackle has put together a solid start to camp.

Bucs G Sadarius Hutcherson

Bucs G Sadarius Hutcherson – Photo courtesy of South Carolina

Second-year guard Leverett has been getting all his reps with the second unit at both guard spots. He has even seen some time at right tackle with the third unit and has not looked out of place. Leverett has also practiced at center during mini-camp, exhibiting versatility could prove useful to the team.

Behind them are guards Hutcherson and Molchon. Hutcherson, the team’s undrafted free agent signing, has seen some reps with the second unit, particularly in goal line work. Molchon has worked exclusively with the third unit.

With Bucs camp just getting underway there’s plenty of time to sway coaches opinions on who might make the final roster. Padded practices have just begun and preseason games are fast approaching. These are early observations from camp so far, and who might have the inside track at securing a roster spot on this stacked Bucs team. But the bulk of the competition is yet to come in Tampa Bay.

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About the Author: J.C. Allen

J.C. Allen is one of PewterReport.com’s newest beat writers. As a New England transplant, he has closely followed Tom Brady’s entire career and first fell in love with the game during the Patriots 1996 Super Bowl run. J.C. is in his second year covering the team after spending a year with Bucs Report as a writer, producer and show host. Some of his other interests include barbecuing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. His favorite Buccaneer of all time is Simeon Rice and believes he deserves a spot in Canton. Follow J.C. Allen on Twitter @JCAllenNFL.
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1 month ago

I don’t like or respect the whole notion of “training camp battles”. Players aren’t battling their fellow players, they are all trying to get better as part of a team. There are no winners and losers. And training camp is infamously lame at predicting who will be more productive in actual games even at the beginning of the season, let alone the “money” part of the schedule in November and December or in the playoffs. Perhaps players that are fourth or fifth string might be “battling” other players ahead of them on the depth chart, in an attempt to remain… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Naplesfan
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

Well yea, no s*^# that to you, what really matters is the team improving. I count 44 pretty well set-in-stone or close to it players on this team right now. I’m guessing that for the 46 guys who are competing for the last 9 spots on this roster, though, it kinda matters to them whether or not they’re likely to get paid to play professional football this season, and if so, then whether it’s going to be at least the $660,000 league minimum, or if it will instead be roughly 20% of that total on the practice squad. What does… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by toofamiliar17
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 month ago

Too: As is often the case, you took some time trying to explain things to Naples. Thankfully, you didn’t waste any more time to find links to support your already very sound argument. Naples is an enigma. Sometimes his comments are well thought out and valid. Then other times he spews out something that is a real headscratcher to which I can only think, “What?” Of course the players are competing with each other for roster spots, starting roles, back-up positions and the Practice Squad. The “bubble” players are also competing against players who could be acquired from other teams.… Read more »

Captain Sly
Reply to  scubog
1 month ago

Naples being an “enigma” is putting it politely Scubog! The term Camp Battles is just a just a figure of speech used to describe the competition at every position. Everybody gets that, well almost everybody. Cheers

1 month ago

The statement that Griffin is way ahead of Trask on the quarterback depth chart is not consistent with prior reports on PR about the camp so far, several of which stated that Trask, as recently as this past weekend, was far ahead of Griffin.

Is this just differences of opinion? Who at PR is “right” and who at PR is “wrong”? OR is one or the other writers just cheerleading for their faves?

1 month ago

RB battle is not just a camp thing. Those guys will be competing for snaps every drive until the season is over. I imagine that is the way that Bruce wants it. Both RoJo and Fournette are playing for their next contract this year and every snap one guy gets is money out of the other guy’s pocket. expect some angry running this year
Fournette looks so strange with that big torso and that number 7 jersey

1 month ago

What’s up with Brate? Hudson, or McElroy could easily, and cheaply replace him. Could they be holding him out as trade bait?

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