It was everything you though it would be.
The heat, the humidity, the Hard Knocks cameras, the fans, the cheers, the media circus; it was all there for day one of Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 training camp.
When it came to the play on the field, you could tell it was day one, at times. There were a couple easy drops and some miscommunication on play calling. But, in terms of playing as a group, and the guys who are on the roster, defensive tackle, Gerald McCoy, noted that, “this is the closest-knit team I’ve ever been on.”
The Bucs’ Dynamic Duo
That close-knit chemistry was very obvious when it came to the starting quarterback and his No. 1 target: Jameis Winston and Mike Evans.
If there was a player who “won the day,” it was Evans. When you show up in a Ferrari on the first day of camp like Evans did yesterday, you have to make sure you back that confidence up, and Evans sure did. the first play the team ran during their 11-on-11 scrimmage went to Evans, and I would expect most drives during the regular season to start that way, too.
Even when Winston and Evans were a little bit of, the duo still made things happen. The play above was a good example of that. It’s catches like the one above that make Mike Evans a Top 5 wide receiver in the game today. He has the length, the speed and the hands to make all the scripted plays, but he also has the intangibles and the concentration to make plays happen when things don’t go so perfect.
Early Chapters of Rod God
Speaking of wide receivers who showed out, rookie wide receiver, Chris Godwin, had himself one hell of a first day.
On the first rookie mini camp practice we got to see him participate in, you could tell Godwin was a bit overwhelmed, maybe even intimidated. But, that lack of confidence is long gone, and has since been replaced with a can-do attitude in almost every situation. There is more than just catching the ball that goes into playing wide out, but in terms of that part of the job, Godwin is already ahead of the curve.
Godwin wasn’t out there with the first team, but that’s understandable since Evans and Jackson were on the outside and Humphries was in the slot. I saw some fans talking about it just being a “matter of time” before Godwin takes over that No. 3 wide receiver spot, but it doesn’t exactly work like that. Godwin is the No. 1 sub on either outside wide receiver position. That means he’ll fill in for Evans or Jackson if they get hurt or tired. However, we don’t expect Godwin to be a sub in the slot where Humphries plays. So Godwin technically won’t be the No. 3 wide receiver, but really, it’s not a linear ranking like numbers would suggest.
Godwin will get plenty of playing time, especially with more unique catches like the one above.
Overall it was a pretty positive day for the offense, but a few of the rookies not named Chris Godwin certainly showed their youth.
In the play above, rookie tight end Antony Auclair let one go right through his hands. As a tight end, you can’t let plays like that happen. These have to be the security blanket kind of plays. They have to be “sure things,” and if the ball gets in the area, it has to gain some yards.
Like the undrafted free agent Auclair, first round pick O.J. Howard had a rep where the same thing happened. This is nothing to freak out about, but it does speak to why Howard wouldn’t just win the starting spot right out of the gate, despite being so touted. Cameron Brate does all the little things very well in the passing game. He’s incredibly reliable, and has very consistent hands. Howard has the higher ceiling, but he still needs to to make the little things second nature.
Age Is Just A Number
Brent Grimes is somehow getting better with age. To us, it’s a mystery. But, to Grimes, it’s obvious.
It’s hard work.
Plays like the one above are evidence to that. At 34 years old, Grimes is practicing like a youngster. He’s getting extra reps in in the Florida heat, and he’s making sure he’s the best he can possiblity be, no matter what age it is.
Grimes was graded as one of the best cover cornerbacks in the NFL last season, and is poised to stay on that path.
From the Note Pad
- Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was running with the second team today. Didn’t have too many standout plays, but he did throw a pick-6, which was a great read and break by cornerback Robert McClain, who was playing as a the backup nickel CB.
- According to head coach, Dirk Koetter, defensive end Jacquies Smith suffered a setback recovering for his torn ACL and will be undergoing another minor procedure. He’ll be out at least another three weeks.
- Noah Spence was lining up very far out wide, almost like in the spacing of a LEO linebacker, but still with his hand in the ground. It’s a spot that you would call a “wide-nine,” which is for pass rushing specialists.
- Wide receiver Bobo Wilson was very explosive today. he had one nice grab that was noteworthy, but is clearly getting a lot of effort for his athleticism to be noticed. he returned some punts, but as a depth play. he’s not a straight-line burner, but could be an option to keep as a slot back up.
- Wide receiver DeSean Jackson didn’t see any deep ball throws today, but the team did use him on shorter routes in the middle and to the outside. They also had him running behind the line of scrimmage on some possible WR reverse plays, but never got the handoff.
- Chris Conte and Keith Tandy were the starting safeties, but Tandy was back at free safety with Conte at strong safety. During OTAs, their roles had switched, which was a tad confusing. This is more natural for both, I would say.
From the Stands: Fan Spotlight
Last year when I was covering training camp as a freelance writer, I did a little fan post every practice and people seemed to like it. So, I’m going to bring it back because Bucs fans never have a dull moment when they get together.
Today there was plenty of excitement from a packed house. There were chants and cheers, some “from the stands” coaching and some interesting ways to get their favorite players to sign their autographs.
But, my highlight for the day is something else. The Bucs (specifically wide receiver Russell Shepard last year) like to pick a kid the stands after practice and go play catch with them during some of the extra drills. Today they did that, and it was with a Bucs fan whose family drove all the way from Carolina in the heart of Panthers country for the weekend to see their Bucs practice.
I wish I had video of it, but the smile on that kid’s face, and even the smile on his dad’s face, is what these open training camps are all about.
In addition, there was this clip from Tandy and his “personal coach.”
Hopefully they’re not pushing him too hard.
We’ll be back tomorrow for another full day of coverage. If you have something you want us to talk about or focus on, comment below and I’ll try to make note of it moving forward.