With Bucs training camp quickly approach the PewterReport.com staff asks – and answers – 15 critical camp questions that need to be answered this August as Tampa Bay prepares to embark on the 2019 season. Over the next 15 days PewterReport.com will offer up its thoughts on the topics that the Bucs will need to sort out in order for the team to be successful this season and possibly compete for a long-awaited playoff berth.

These are the things that the PewterReport.com staff will be following closely in camp, and invite our readers to share their thoughts as well in the comment section.

Bucs’ Critical Camp Question No. 14:
Will Nick Fitzgerald make the team and at what position?

Yes, as an athlete contributing at tight end on special teams and as an emergency quarterback. Fitzgerald is going to do something at the Bucs’ training camp that’s one of the toughest things to do in this league – make the battle for the No. 3 quarterback spot a thrilling narrative.

When the Bucs signed Fitzgerald as an undrafted free agent quarterback out of Mississippi State, fans and media outlets around the country all posed the same question, “will Nick Fitzgerald be the next Taysom Hill?”

Will he become the Hill, who is the third-string QB in New Orleans? Probably not. It takes the right situation, a special player and a risky, innovative offensive mind all coming together to see what Hill did for the Saints this past season.

Bucs QB Nick Fitzgerald
Bucs QB Nick Fitzgerald – Photo courtesy of Mississippi State

While it’s possible that offensive play-caller Byron Leftwich and offensive mastermind Bruce Arians draw up some plays to utilize the SEC’s all-time leader in rushing yards from the quarterback position, it won’t happen regularly. Fitzgerald’s 4.64 speed and athleticism are well documented with 3,607 rushing yards and a 6.0 yards per carry average throughout his college career, adding another 6,207 yards and 55 touchdowns through the air, but the Bucs offense this season will sink or swim with the ball in Jameis Winston’s hands.

The question at hand for Fitzgerald is if he can make the Bucs’ final roster, and at what position?

Fitzgerald might make the team officially listed as the third quarterback, but his ability to add a different skill set on offense and the versatility to work on special teams could be the deciding factor that helps him to beat out the six-year veteran, Ryan Griffin, who has yet to throw a regular season pass.

For young players trying to make a 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent, playing a key role on special teams is what allows them to make the team. The Bucs have seen it with Adam Humphries, an undrafted free agent out of Clemson, who found his way onto the roster primarily as a return specialist and turned that job into one of Winston’s most reliable, sure-handed targets as a slot receiver.

It’s also happened with Justin Watson, last year’s fifth-round pick, who became a regular among the Bucs’ special teams unit in 2018 and is now primed for a spot in the wide receiver rotation if everything goes right for him in training camp.

During rookie mini-camp, OTAs and the team’s mandatory mini-camp, while Fitzgerald would go on to work with the quarterbacks later in the day, he and his orange non-contact jersey could be seen working with the special teams groups every day at the beginning of practice. Look for the same type of routine to occur in training camp as he continues his battle to make the 53-man roster.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Can we get a new poll?

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  2. To me Fitzgerald’s passing mechanics are really bad. If the coaching staff have helped him improve on that a bit he has a shot.

    I am not convinced he makes the team as a RB or TE. Bucs have enough bodies competing at both spots IMO.

    Fitzgerald is going to have to make the team as a #3 QB. Just my two cents.

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  3. He’s thrown as many passes in a regular season game as Griffin, who the Bucs will cut in favor of Blaine as their back up. If he can excel on teams, especially with Smith out the first four games, and at least function as an emergency QB in case Jameis, and Blaine go down in the same game, I can see him making the team. Sprinkle in a few gadget plays, why not keep him?

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  4. Straight and to the point here…Fitz is camp fodder. He should try the Canadian or another football league if he is serious about continuing hs dream as a pro QB. He won’t make our or any NFl roster at this time,
    NEXT!!

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  5. Tend to agree with @twspin. He’s in the Tebow mold with far less passing skill.

    Watched him vs. Auburn, grinder and pretty good leader, but not an NFL QB.

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  6. Ftizgerald had a better college passer rating than Ryan Griffin or Daniel Jones who went 6th overall in the draft. Better winning rate as well, at a far higher level of competition than either of those two. He’s a lock to me. Just watch the vid of him being carted off the field after having his leg broken against Ole Miss. It was a gruesome injury and he was exhorting his teammates on from the cart. Byron Leftwich ish moment.

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  7. I think he will compete well with the third string in the Preseason because he can scramble out of trouble better than his competition. He was taught by the same college coach who made a three star athlete into a top college QB who still starts for Dallas so he has had excellent training and is in great shape to play well on Special Teams too.

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  8. Oh and being in the Tebow mold is not a bad thing. Tebow put a bad Denver Team on his back and carried them to the playoffs and then eliminated the then World Champion Steeler’s Team with a surprise win. The owner, Elway, publicly promised to make him the starter the next year but then stabbed Tebow in the back when the owner made Peyton Manning their QB the next year. Otherwise Tebow would have won the Super Bowl for Denver much quicker than Manning did.

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