It is Monday, and that means another Bucs Monday Mailbag where Mark Cook answers your submitted questions about the team. You can submit your own question for next week via twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Question: Objectively, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your level of concern regarding Winston’s training camp interceptions?
Answer: Maybe a 2? I really don’t lose any sleep over it. As I have mentioned on the Pewter Nation podcast, and on the What the Buc podcast, Winston isn’t keeping a tally of his practice stats. We saw Josh McCown a few years ago look like Tom Brady in the offseason with days where a ball rarely hit the ground. But that obviously didn’t translate to the games. Winston loves to see what he can and can’t get away with in practice. He has never been known as an outstanding practice player, going back to his days at Florida State. That comes from coaches.
He plays a game in his own head essentially. He knows check downs in practice don’t necessarily help him get better. Of course, he must be better this season as far as protecting the ball. He will get greedy, at times, and he has supreme confidence in his arm and tries to fit the ball into nearly impossible spots, at times. But, as Dirk Koetter has said, you don’t want to coach out the aggressiveness, because that is part of what makes Winston special. One other thing, these defensive backs have seen pretty much everything already and take more chances and guesses when in coverage during team period.
Question: This may have already been answered, but how has J. R. Sweezy looked this far through camp? Haven’t heard much.
Answer: I would say he has looked fine. I can’t say he has stood out, but I also don’t think he has disappointed either. The Bucs are giving a lot of guys reps, but so far Sweezy hasn’t stuck out like a sore thumb – and that is a good thing. When you don’t hear anything about an offensive lineman, it usually means he is doing his job. The one thing I wish we would see in practice is the 1-on-1’s with the offensive and defensive lines going up against each other.
I talked to coach Warhop the other day coming off the field just casually and he seems pleased with the line so far. Actually, I take that back. Coach Warhop never seems pleased. But, he expects this group to be better, including Donovan Smith, who he says has the potential to be one of the best in the league. If Smith wants to be he added.
Question: Thoughts on how rookie Jeremy McNichols looked so far? Will he have a role?
Answer: I think McNichols has played about to the expectations we had for him at this point in camp. I can’t say I have noticed anything that jumps out at me, although he does have good hands. The preseason games will tell us a lot about if he is ready to be a contributor in the NFL as a rookie. It is not about just running the football. His pass protection had to be solid and how quickly he can pick up the offense after not participating in the offseason due to his shoulder surgery recovery will be a big factor. We do know the team loves him and thinks he can succeed at this level. He is definitely one to keep an eye on starting next Friday night in Cincinnati.
Question: How will the cut from 90 straight to 53 affect how the team approaches practices and games later in the preseason?
Answer: I don’t know that it affects how they approach practice, but we do know Koetter likes have the full 90-man squad available for that final preseason game. The starters won’t play, so that is 22 players basically not dressed. Then you add in the handful that will be dinged up and unavailable to play. When there was the cut down to 75, it was tough to get enough bodies to play four quarters. So, coaches had to play some guys they would have preferred not to. And then you have guys saying, “why am I in the game,” but this guy isn’t.
Example last year when Austin Seferian-Jenkins played in the deluge against the Redskins at home. He wasn’t real pleased, but it was a bit of a necessity. The one group that probably doesn’t like it is the Hard Knocks crew, who was able to make the cut downs in the past, into two episodes. Now, it most likely will have to be just one show on the players coming in Koetter and general manager Jason Licht’s office to hear their fate.