Tampa Bay is coming off a season in which its secondary surrendered 255.3 yards per game, good for fifth-worst in the league.
Seven practices into training camp, Bucs coaches are keying in on increasing the team’s depth at cornerback to make sure there’s not a repeat of last year’s porous pass defense.
One player brought in to compete for meaningful snaps this season is fifth-year veteran Sterling Moore. Tampa Bay signed the 25-year-old in March after Moore led the Dallas Cowboys with 13 passes defensed. Helping the SMU product land a job in Tampa Bay is that he spent time at nickelback and on the outside last season and throughout his career.
“We were concerned about our depth at corner so we wanted to create some competition,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said earlier this week. “[Moore’s] played both [outside corner and nickel]. He started at nickel, played a lot of corner a year ago, so he’s capable of doing both. But right now we need the competition and the depth at corner.”
Moore’s displayed the ability to get to the football so far this summer by jumping and picking off a few passes from quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Mike Glennon during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
“We’ve seen him being able to make plays,” head coach Lovie Smith said after practice Saturday. “He’s a smart football player that knows how to get good position. A couple times Sterling and Mike Evans – and there’s a little bit of a difference there – Sterling knows how to use his body [against bigger receivers]. As I said, he’s a smart football player and we’re noticing him every day.”
The Bucs bring back six cornerbacks from last year’s roster, including regular starters Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner on the outside and Leonard Johnson at nickelback. Mike Jenkins is also back after spending nearly all of last year on the injured reserve and looking to play his way back into the regular rotation.