Here’s how the first three days of training camp have been: Sunny, late showers, some showers, Tropical Storm Emily.
When you combine the first day of full pads with the first day of constant wind and rain, you’re sure to get some news one way or another. To start with some good and bad, Bucs quarterback, Jameis Winston, wasn’t wearing any kind of knee protection at all. For him to walk out with no brace in the rain on the first day of contact must mean that he really is completely fine. On the flip side, no practice for the Bucs’ big-name free agent signing, Chris Baker. Baker was seen yesterday with ice on his knee at the end of practice. He was walking and (slightly) dancing around with no tape or brace on the sidelines today, so his injury must not be too bad. They’re probably just making sure they’re safe with whatever caused him to need ice yesterday.
Now, let’s get to the highlights.
Just Call Me “Bobo”
Former Florida State wide receiver, Jesus “Bobo” Wilson, has been quite the conversation since signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent. Since that time, fans and media members have discussed which players have a chance of making this team and where. Within that conversation, Wilson has had plenty of supporters as a receiver and for his special teams ability.
Wilson has been having some noticeable moments in camp, but none more impressive than today when he made a leaping catch in the air, in the rain and came down with it for a catch. That was the play of the day.
Wilson stands out thanks to his short area quickness – that’s acceleration, jumping and quick feet. He’s not a downfield burner, but he can make defenders miss by being shifty. That puts him in line with an Adam Humphries-like role. Wilson has been taking reps as a kick returner and a punt returner, too, which increases his value.
Wilson is moving up the depth chart on a daily basis.
Elliott Emerges At Nickel
Speaking of former Florida State products, nickel cornerback, Javien Elliott (another undrafted player) has really started to separate himself as the team’s now starting nickel cornerback.
The Bucs worked on a lot of short yardage situations today, but unlike preparing them from a base 4-3 formation, they ran short yardage situations with their nickel defense – not ideal, but you have to be ready for it.
In the play above, Elliott was blitzing off the edge, and would have putt Winston on the ground if it were a game. Elliott had a nice pass break up yesterday, and then had what would have been a sack today. Next for him is to get himself an interception. iI they keep giving him most of the nickel team reps, that will come soon enough.
Undrafted, under appreciated, but no longer under the radar are Wilson and Elliott.
Hit Squad Is Back
Four days into practice and we’re sure people were asking, “What about Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David? You haven’t featured them at all!”
We got you, we got you.
Today was the first day that the linebackers could really shine since so much of playing the position has to do with physicality, from minor bumps and pushes to big fumble-forcing hits. In the first 11-on-11 scrimmage, David wasted no time getting rookie, O.J. Howard, acclimated to what it’s going to be like going against NFL linebackers. In the clip above, Howard couldn’t shake David, and when the ball arrived in his area, David was already bumping him off balance.
It was fun watching defensive players realize they could finally lower the shoulder. Even though you don’t want to take it overboard because it is your own teammates, you can still give a ball carriers a taste of what game action will be like.
That’s exactly what Alexander did in the clip above for rookie running back, Jeremy McNichols. It’s almost as if Alexander was giving McNichols his “welcome to the NFL” practice moment. To McNichols’ credit, he bounced back up quickly and ran back to his spot. These are the little moments that get guys in the right mind set come game time. As long as no injuries occur, shots like that are good to see every now and then.
O-Line Gets Mean
Much like the linebackers, offensive linemen can’t really show their stuff until the pads come out. Today, that happened, and they did.
The play above was poetry in motion.
For starters, offensive guard, Kevin Pamphile, and offensive tackle, Donovan Smith, did a great job sealing their blocks in dominating fashion. Second, that’s tight end O.J. Howard on the edge going one-on-one with pass rusher Noah Spence – and getting the better of him. Finally, notice J.R. Sweezy coming over from the other side of the line to pull up the gap and stone Alexander to spring running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
That’s running power at its finest, folks. More of that and the Buccaneers won’t have to worry about who’s getting the ball in Weeks 1 through 3 – they’ll have success, regardless.
From the Notepad
- The running back rotation is still Martin, Rodgers, Sims then either Barber or McNichols, and that’s likely how it’s going to be in the short-term. However, it is worth noting that McNichols gets more and more reps every practice.
- Canadian rookie tight end, Antony Auclair had a great practice today. While blocking, he stoned both Noah Spence and DaVonte Lamber on back-to-back plays. He’s had some yips when catching passes, but with blocking like that, they can give him time to work on his hands.
- Fellow tight end, Cameron Brate, wasn’t in too much on the short-yardage blocking drills and scrimmages, but when he was, he was doing what he does as a pass catcher off the line. One play in particular is when where he burned Devonte Bond off the line.
- Safety J.J. Wilcox had a good practice again today. He added another interception, which makes it two in four days to lead the team.
- Quarterback, Ryan Griffin, took snaps from the second team today. The race for that backup quarterback spot is probably much closer than people think.
From the Stands: Fan Spotlight
Today’s fan spotlight is another two-part series like yesterday. Since there’s no practice tomorrow, we decided to give you another bonus.
The first involves quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is the team’s resident Rubik’s Cube master. In his first press conference as a member of the Buccaneers, Fitzpatrick was even asked about it – how fast he could do it, if he’s tried to get other players to do it, etc.
Today, before practice even began, Fitzpatrick – who is usually the first player out on the field – went over to the fences where two little fans had their own Rubik’s Cube. I think the kids were either family or close friends with Fitzpatrick, because he talked to them again after practice. Anyways, he and fellow quarterback, Griffin, mixed up the Cubes and watched the two kids race to finish. Fitzpatrick and Griffin were just as excited as the kids were.
Today was a special day in the stands. Due to the fact that the fans had to endure the tropical rains to watch practice this morning, almost every single player on the team went over and made themselves available for autographs and pictures and thank them.
There were a handful of great moments from that. First, left tackle Donovan Smith went into the stands and yelled at Jude Adjei-Barimah if he could sign his shirt, which was rather funny. Kwon Alexander gave the fans a cameo appearance on his snapchat. Then Gerald McCoy did his usual thing until all the crowds cleared.
But, one moment stood out to us. There was a Bucs fan wearing a Mike Evans jersey who was all the way on the other side of the stands from where Evans was signing autographs. When one of the other players learned that it was the little boy’s birthday, he asked the boy’s parents if he could take him over to Evans.
The rest is in the video above.
Today was another example of how easy this team is to root for. Throughout their time signing autographs, they couldn’t stop thanking the fans for sticking it out to watch them in the rain. The players are dedicated to their craft, but they know the fans are dedicated to them in a somewhat similar regard.
They respect that.
It’s a mandatory day off for the players tomorrow (which is good because it’s suppose to still be raining). We’ll be back live from One Buc on Wednesday, but will have plenty of new content, including a Cover 3, for you all between now and then.