It was the perfect weather for football on Thursday at Bucs camp.

There was no rain in the forecast, the sun was shining, but some clouds and a little breeze made for an enjoyable watch for the exclusive member fans in attendance.

It was also an enjoyable day if you were a fan of defensive takeaways. After practice, head coach, Dirk Koetter noted that, “there’s a fine line there between being multiple and just being good at what you do,” referencing Mike Smith’s defense.

More isn’t necessarily better, but that’s what training camp is for. [Mike Smith] and the defensive staff, they’ve got some good stuff they’re doing, they’re giving us fits right now. Not only is it a good scheme, but they’ve got good players playing in that scheme and that’s even better.

Those fits for the offense started off early with a player who has endured his fair share of criticism over the last few years.

The White Unicorn

This was the second day in a row that quarterback Jameis Winston threw a pick-6 to the defense. Yesterday it was Vernon Hargreaves, today it was Chris Conte.

Conte has had a good first week of camp. He had a great pass break up far down the field when it was just him and Mike Evans a few days ago, and he’s shown experience, anticipation and athleticism as a starting safety thus far.

According to his running mate, Keith Tandy, Conte is one of the most underrated players on the team. Though fellow safety, J.J. Wilcox, is having a good camp himself, we believe it will be Conte and Tandy as the starting duo going into week one. So far they’ve shown they’re not afraid of one of the best receiving corps. in the NFL that they have to go up against in practice every day. In fact, they’re getting the better of them right now.

A Former Walk Now On A “Walk Thru”

There’s a song by the rapper Rich Homie Quan that goes, “I be feelin’ like the man when I walk through.”

That’s how we picture cornerback Javien Elliott when he strolls up to Bucs practices as he’s gone from a former walk on with Florida State to now the starting nickel back for the Buccaneers.

We didn’t really know how to take Bucs coaches praising one of their practcie squad players (Elliott) last year, but now we know what they meant. Elliott got playing time late in the year last year, and hasn’t looked back since then. Since the start of camp a week ago, he’s taken the starting nickel job from cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah.

Elliott was even our MVP of Thursday’s practice with an interception and a few passes broken up.

Tight End Passing Game

The offense is still trying to get its feet underneath them. There are flashes of good plays and good concepts, but for the most part, they’re starting small to make the big stuff successful later.

One of the aspects that seems to be right where it needs to be, however, is the tight end passing game. The clip above is just one of many examples of how Winston and Cameron Brate are still on the same page. Having that as a cornerstone for rookie tight end O.J. Howard to learn on his own and experiment with is a big added perk.

An example of that can be seen above. Don’t put too much of this play on cornerback Brent Grimes. Any cornerback would be helpless against a player like Howard making a move like that.

But, that’s the encouraging part for Bucs fans. In today’s age, creativity with tight ends is a fast track to success if you have the personnel. The Bucs do, and plays like the one above should happen more and more.

From the Notepad

  • Ryan Smith appears to be the team’s starting kick returner with Justin Evans as his back up. That’s interesting, too, because if it were a player like Josh Huff or Bobo Wilson, that would play into their roster spot. But, both of Smith and Evans are making the team regardless, so that leaves less advantage for fringe players.
  • Speaking of returners, Hargreaves, Humphries and Grimes were the punt return players today, though it is worth noting that some of the other regulars were going through other special teams practice.
  • Winston looked decent today; he still had some shaky decision making, though. With the pick-6 to Conte and a couple miss-fires sprinkled in, he still has yet to take that next big leap.
  • Devante Bond looked good as a pass rusher today. He was playing as a linebacker, not a defensive end, but you can tell that’s his bread and butter. More rushes from him could help with Jacquies Smith out.

From the Stands: Fan Spotlight

Meet Wade.

Wade is a big fan of Kwon Alexander’s. Part of that comes from loving who Alexander is as a person; part of it comes from the unfortunate path they both share.

Both Wade and Alexander have lost a sibling, and today Alexander got the chance to meet Wade. Alexander talked with Wade about being strong, keeping faith and moving forward. He talked about how he had to be strong for those around him, even if sometimes it was hard.

Today was also Alexander’s birthday. The first gift he received today was from Wade. It was a rock with the Bible verse, “The Lord is my strength” written on it. Wade gave it to Alexander as a symbol and a reminder of the tragedy they both have, and how they still have to be strong through it all.

Alexander was moved, and told Wade it that the rock will sit at the front of his locker for the entire season.

It may be the weekend tomorrow, but our coverage of Bucs camp will be rolling on. If you can make it out to practice, come find us!

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at:
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Alldaway 2.0
4 years ago

I am mildly concerned about Winston. He is having a hard time making decisions with a quick rhythm passing game. Good to hear the TE’s are a mismatch nightmare. Even better to hear that the DB/S are matching up with these TEs an WRs. Devante Bond is pretty much running with the opportunity at SAM. His speed, use of hands, and ability to make splash plays is too hard to ignore. He is quickly becoming a fan favorite of mine if he keeps this up. Given the amount of CB’s and S the Bucs like I can see a scenario… Read more »

Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

I definitely hear what you guys are saying. But i’m not really too concerned. I have seen them run the exact same plays many times, specifically that pick-6 Conte got, they’ve been really working that route a lot. I have kind of viewed Winston as like a more quick and shifty Brett Favre, he’s not going to shy away from slinging that ball. He’s going to throw more INTs than a Brees, Brady or Manning, but I believe it will surely be a net-positive for the franchise.

Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

That’s 100% fair, agreed on all points.

Honey Bear
4 years ago

A week into practice and you’re worried about Jameis? He’s still shaking off the rust of the offseason, getting used to his new weapons out there. If by the 3rd preseason game he still looks like that, then we can worry. That means 3.5 more weeks of practice with his new toys.

So exciting!!!!

4 years ago

I am not at all worried about Jameis Winston because I know when we went shopping for a franchise QB, we bought a high risk/high reward QB with a cannon for an arm and the confidence of a mongoose in a cobra fight. Winston is going to throw Int’s and some will be ill-timed – always did, probably always will. But he’s also going to throw lots of TDs for lots of yards and win lots of games in the process. So hold on to your hats, it is more than likely going to be a wild ride – one… Read more »

4 years ago

“he still has yet to take that next big leap”

How does one know this in training camp? Won’t that be determined when he start playing in live games? Pretty soon someone from the national media is going to pick up that line and it will turn into, the Bucs are concerned about Jameis’ progress.

4 years ago

Not worried about this at all. Jameis will have his ints. He’s a high risk thrower, that’s not ever going to change.
We have to remember this defense as mentioned above, has probably seen that play 100 times already. And let’s not forget, this defense held drew Brees to 10 points last year, they are pretty damn good.
This is good if it’s back and forth.

4 years ago

It’s comical how folks panic if the QB throws an interception or a receiver drops the ball given the number of passes that are being thrown each practice with no real consequences as there would be in a actual game. At least we’re not talking about hold-outs, injuries or hoping another team cuts a player who sucks less than our projected starter.