The Buccaneers held the first of a three-day mini-camp at One Buc on Tuesday under cloudy, but extremely humid and muggy conditions. The weather forecast of rain caused the team to push everything up an hour to beat the summer storms, and while it stayed dry from a rain standpoint there wasn’t a player, fan coach – or media member – who didn’t look like they had just run a marathon.
Below are some of the highlights, along with video of the first mini-camp session.
Defense Wins The Day
Head coach Dirk Koetter wasn’t necessarily disappointed in the offense, but said it was the defense who won on Tuesday. A number of drops hampered the offense who wasn’t as sharp as they have been over the last month. While some fans may be concerned with the lackadaisical performance by the offense, they should also be encouraged by the play of the defense. While the Bucs added a number of weapons offensively, unless the team wants to get in 16 track meets this season, they will need the 2016 post-bye-week defense to start right out of the gates this season.
Robert Ayers got things going early as the Bucs jumped right into their two-minute offense at the start of practice. Quarterback Jameis Winston had his offense moving well down the field until defensive end Robert Ayers made an outstanding play. Ayers anticipated a pass and timed his leap perfectly to knock the pass down from Winston. So perfectly in fact he intercepted the ball, sending Winston and the first team to the sidelines.
Another standout on the day Tuesday was linebacker Kwon Alexander who was all over the field. It appears the former LSU standout is poised to have an even bigger breakout season in 2017. Some of those lapses of not getting the correct depth in pass coverage have been improved, and even when not, his recovery and ability to separate the ball from the receiver is much more consistent so far this offseason.
Koetter told the media the Bucs installed some new things on Tuesday morning, one being a double-move deep ball package for new receiver DeSean Jackson. The speedy former Redskin surprised cornerback Brent Grimes with it early in practice, hauling in a 45-yard deep ball in the end zone from Winston. Jackson got the best of Grimes on the play but the crafty veteran wouldn’t be fooled twice. The Bucs attempted it again later in the day and Grimes recognized it, using the boundary and his body to slow Jackson down causing an incomplete pass as Grimes was able to get up and knock the pass away.
The Bucs later went back to the play one more time, this time trying to take advantage of second-year cornerback
Vernon Hargreaves who like Grimes, was able to recognize the play. Winston under threw the ball a little and Hargreaves made an easy interception.
So far in all of the offseason sessions the media has been allowed to see, newcomer Nick Folk has gotten the best of incumbent kicker Roberto Aguayo. On Tuesday that changed. But will it last? Folk was up first and calmly drilled his first four attempts, each one being a little longer than the last. Folk’s last attempt, from 54 yards, ended up as a low knuckleball type kick that hit the lower part of the right upright. Doink!
Aguayo was up next and proceeded to send all five of his attempts – from the same distance – through, with relative ease. Perhaps it is a turning point in the battle, or maybe just an aberration. Regardless, it was certainly a pleasant sight to see for general manager Jason Licht who took Aguayo in the second round of the 2106 NFL Draft, only to see him struggle as a rookie.
More notes and observation:
• Mike Evans was dominant on Tuesday, especially in red zone drills. The former Aggie star was unguardable and he and Winston look to have mid-season chemistry down. Along with chemistry, Evans has his dunking skills down, throwing two over the cross bar late in practice after scoring touchdowns.
• The Bucs invited some of their pass holders to view practice on Tuesday and the crowd was into the practice. Loud cheers erupted after Jackson burned Grimes, and the crowd also gave a rousing cheer to an official who took a tumble and stayed down for a few minutes before finally returning to his feet.
• The team’s indoor facility is going up quickly, and the steel beams were being erected even during practice. This time of year, rain and thunderstorms are the biggest hinderance in construction projects, but the Bucs still expect to have the indoor field ready late this summer.
• Once again, Bucs linebacker Lavonte David was back deep fielding punts on Tuesday. No word if the star linebacker is considering a position change. But if Mike Smith has anything to say the answer would be a resounding, no.