Ask any coach of any sport and they’ll tell you that the best ability is availability – if you’re hurt, you don’t do the team any good.
It seems Bucs head coach, Dirk Koetter, has taken that to heart this training camp. Even as the pads have come on, Koetter isn’t taking any chances. He’s not asking the defensive players to complete tackles, or even wrap up most of the time (in space), and he won’t even let his starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, take snaps form under center on short-yardage situations where they know he’s just going to hand the ball off. It’s a violent game, and even in what most would think is a controlled atmosphere, anything can happen – they’re learning that by watching big name players around the NFL already go down.
With that said, the team has its veterans on what you’d call a “pitch count” for camp reps. That explains why players like Gerald McCoy, Caleb Benenoch and Donteea Dye were not participants in practice on Monday, and perhaps lends itself to why defensive tackle Chris Baker has taken a few days off, too.
Koetter knows that this is the most talented team the Buccaneers may have ever had, and he’s going to do all he can to make sure a silly mistake or a missed step here or there ruin that. With some of the starters having an easier day, that gave way for the fringe first team players to shine, and they did, starting with a name you’ve heard plenty of already.
Rod God Goes Off
To start practice, the Bucs ran the 1-minute drill once again. To this point, they had not been able top get a touchdown when running this drill – that’s with the first, second and third team. But, this morning was different.
Winston looked very sharp marching the ball down the field, hitting Mike Evans and Cameron Brate to the sidelines, which set up the clip above. Chris Godwin has been involved everywhere, and today he got rewarded with he first touchdown of the 1-minute drill this training camp. The route was great to beat Hargreaves off the jump; he was able to veer far enough so the safety could help, and Winston put the ball right where it needed to be.
But, Godwin’s day wasn’t done there.
Later in practice, Godwin roped in what was one of the best deep ball catches of training camp so far, get up and in between two defenders – a term known as “Moss’d.”
Everyone wants to know if this is just rookies doing well in camp, or if the hype is real around Godwin – knowing wide receiver Kenny Bell looked great early in camp last year, too, before fizzling out. We can’t even say it’s real anymore; it just is what it is. The praise he’s been getting form his coaches and players have been verified every day. We still can’t believe the Bucs got him in the third round.
Bucs Camp Gets Grimy
It has not been an easy first week for Buccaneers defensive backs, especially those on the first team. Going up against wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans and Adam Humphries every day is no joke, just ask Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves.
Both corners have been on the bad end of some highlight plays over the last few days, but Grimes really stepped up today and reminded everyone why he’s one of the best cover corners in the NFL.
In the play above, Grimes was able to stay with the speedy Jackson and knock the pass away. That’s a tall task for anyone, but it looks like this back-and-forth between Jackson and Grimes is back to even for now.
Immediately following the pass break up while guarding Jackson, Grimes was asked to guard Evans on that same side. This time, thanks to some pressure form the defensive line, Grimes came away with the interception.
After practice, defensive coordinator, Mike Smith made sure to note that his starting cornerback Grimes is a “special player.” He said that Grimes plays much bigger and much younger than his size and age would lead you to believe, and said that Grimes could, “play in this league for as long as he wants.”
Kicking Coaster Continues
It seems as though both kickers, Nick Folk and Roberto Aguayo, just can’t get out of their own ways.
Back in June, Folk looked automatic, notably nailing all five field goals from the narrow goal post at varying distances. But, since then, he’s cooled off. He’s had on days and off days, but nothing like that first time we saw him.
Aguayo has been the opposite. He struggled during the mini camp earlier this summer, but has been pretty lights out in training camp – he even won our MVP of one of last week’s practices.
But today both parties involved left a lot to be desired. Both Aguayo and Folk had some bad misses, and both were below 50 percent for the day. Just when you think one kicker is about to take the edge and run away with the job, they reel you back in to an open competition.
From the Notepad
From the Stands: Fan Spotlight
Last week, Bucs defensive tackle, Gerald McCoy, signed a sleeping baby for some fans who waiting in line to get his autograph. Today, Winston did the same thing!
Apparently this is team policy now: If you ask politely, one of the Bucs players will sign your sleeping baby. That story made us laugh, so that win the fan spotlight of the day.
Practice rolls on tomorrow at 8:45 as the team prepares for their first preseason game on Friday versus the Cincinnati Bengals.