The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.

Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag.

Question: Before the draft, inside linebacker was our weakest position. With how Jack Cichy, Kevin Minter, Devante Bond and Deone Bucannon are playing, does that add strong depth behind Devin White and Lavonte David?

Answer: Like running back, linebacker was one of those positions that when looking at the roster just months ago, one wondered what this team was going to do to address it. Now, here we are in August, and what was thought to be a need position, looks like a strength. In fact, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles told Ronde Barber on News Channel 8 in an interview on Sunday night that the inside linebacker position was the position he felt was the most solid and talented on the defense.

Bucs TE O.J. Howards and LB Devante Bond - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs TE O.J. Howards and LB Devante Bond – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

And I really have to tip my cap to Devante Bond. When the Buccaneers re-signed him last March, it barely registered more than a blip on my radar. In fact, I may have out loud asked, “Why?” when I saw the press release. Yet here we are a few months later and Bond, who can play both inside and outside linebacker and had a sack against Miami, looks to be a pretty good lock to make the 53-man roster due to his versatility and value as a special teams star.

Question: Wide receiver Justin Watson has had a poor preseason. Do you think he misses the cutdown?

Answer: I think he needs a good showing over the last two weeks to lock up a roster spot. He hasn’t had the best preseason, although he has looked solid in practices. But so far through two games he hasn’t really stood out. It is safe to assume Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman are wide receivers No. 1-3, and Watson came into camp with the No. 4 spot with his name on it. But honestly, no one has stood out once you get past the first three receivers, including Watson, who has had some drops in the first two games. While they were contested catches, making there tough grabs in traffic, particularly in the red zone, is the way to solidify a roster spot. And Watson just hasn’t done that yet.

Bucs WR Justin Watson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/P

Tampa Bay is hoping someone steps up over the next couple weeks, whether it be Watson, Bobo Wilson, Scotty Miller or even the newest receiver brought into camp, Emanuel Hall. And head coach Bruce Arians also said there are 31 other teams that have players that could end up being cut that might make this football team. The fourth and fifth players on the depth chart – at receiver or really any position – that makes this team’s opening day roster, might not even be a Buccaneer right now.

Question: What does Jameis Winston have to do this season in order to become the highest paid QB in the league and earn a long-term contract extension from the Bucs?

Answer: It is really simple – win football games. For all of the turnover elimination and improved decision-making talk, at the end of the day, the Buccaneers need to win more football games with Winston under center. We can debate why Winston hasn’t won as many games as he and the team would have liked, but the number one thing quarterbacks are judged on is wins and losses. And Tampa Bay hasn’t won enough football games with Winston, who is 21-33 as a starter in his four years with the Bucs.

QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As far as being the highest-paid QB in the league, even if Winston has a breakout year, I don’t know that I see him getting more than the $34 million per year average Russell Wilson is currently getting. One strong year versus a really good career that includes a Lombardi Trophy like Wilson has, doesn’t justify becoming the league’s highest-paid quarterback, despite the direction salaries have headed.

Question: How long will it take for rookie cornerback Jamel Dean to make his way into the starting lineup?

Answer: If you had asked me this two weeks ago, I would have said he would probably be ready in 2020. But after returning from a hip flexor injury that cost him some training camp practice time and the first preseason game at Pittsburgh, the proverbial light seems to have come on for the former Auburn standout. The front office and coaching staff loves what Dean, who is a third-round draft pick, can bring to the team, particularly with his speed and size. We saw some of that last Friday night against the Dolphins when he had two pass breakups and a key end zone interception.

Dean is a little behind in the race to challenge either Vernon Hargreaves III or Carlton Davis for a starting role, but is quickly making up time from what we have been told privately. In fact, he’s ahead of second-round pick Sean Murphy-Bunting, who had a great offseason and start to training camp, but may have lost some confidence from his poor debut in Pittsburgh where he had a penalty on special teams, a pass interference call and gave up a touchdown in pass coverage.

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

21 COMMENTS

  1. LB and RB seems alright now. My worry is the depth along the OL. Don’t like the primary backup tackles with Boozer or Benenoch. Have Poels and Ruble shown enough to challenger Boozer or Benenoch?

    Wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs scoop up two OL from the waiver wire after cut downs and sign 3 to OL to the PS.

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  2. Mark I have a question for you, is JPP even with the team? I know he’s injured, but is he to injured to at least stand on the sidelines getting mental reps, bonding with his team mates, can he even get on an exercise bike? It’s not like he’s played in, or knows the new defense. He was busy breaking his neck instead of showing up for OTA’s, where is the guy? I wouldn’t trust him to rehab on his own, can’t even trust him to light a firecracker, or drive a car. I can’t think of any reason he shouldn’t be with the team trainers, and at the facility. We’ve paid him 7.5 million so far for nothing, and it looks like we’re going to give him another 7 million for what exactly? Please explain what’s going on with him, and where has he been?

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    • Great Question. I liked JPP when he was at USF, and I won’t deny he was our best sacker last year but necks are tricky injuries and he is no spring chicken. 7mil is a lot of money when we have other urgent needs. I would hope the guy would show up and at least take an interest in our new system. I don’t like this 6 month window and I certainly wouldn’t expect him to rush in and save our season if necessary. I think it’s time they take a good look at this situation and it might be time for JPP to hang it up.

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    • Have to admit, it seems as if he could be at team meetings and helping to educate the the rookies, so many ways the Bucs could benefit from his presence. I would be more inclined to want to keep him than deal for someone else if he cared enough to hang out @ OBP.

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  3. If I had to guess is that JPP sustained a non football injury so that may be why JPP isn’t around OBP.

    https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/jpp-returning-giants-monday-physical-exam-report-article-1.2350944

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    • Bro.. that was an article back in 2015.

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      • True but JPP sustained a non football injury then and the situation is very similar to now.

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  4. I would caution this: the last time we had a rookie CB perform adequately his name was ‘nobody’ (maybe Aquib Talib). Playing corner as a rookie – especially when playing against the offenses we face in the South – is incredibly difficult. I dare say, it is the most difficult transition on defense from college – going from facing QBs that largely won’t even make an NFL roster, to facing Drew Brees (a HoFer), Matt Ryan and Cam Newton twice each is tough. Let’s just keep our expectations in line – let VHIII and Davis (and Ryan Smith when he gets back) be our benchmarks, and let the rookies learn in spot duty. Throwing one of these guys out to guard Julio (like we did last year) is going to be a big mistake (like it was last year)….and then we’ll all be claiming they are busts…they are rookies, not busts at this point.

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    • EastEndBoy – Couldn’t agree more. Always lots of hype with the new kids on the block, but in one of the toughest positions in professional sports, pitting rookies against seasoned pro’s and HoF’ers is nuts. Guys got pressed into service last season with injuries and the like and we saw how that worked out. I’d love to see Davis and Dean outside, VHIII in the slot, but at Auburn Dean wasn’t as polished with his technique, higher number of PI penalties and getting beaten deep more than you’s expect. Good coaching will help develop him, but I’d be surprised if that’s a quick change.

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    • EastEndBoy

      Good Common sense. We fans project our “fantasy” expectations on rookies way too much.
      ______________
      Go Bucs!!!

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    • Ryan Smith is not only not a very good CB, he will miss the first quarter of the season because he’s also not very smart off the field.

      Smith isn’t in the same league as as Dean as a CB. Heck I’d take Wilkins over Smith.

      Smith is a good special teams player and a below average CB.

      Sure rookie CB struggle..see Barber and Kelly. But they also learned from seeing valuable playing time as rookies.

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      • Had Smith not had the suspension, he’d be battling for a starting spot. He was the Bucs best returning CB and he had a real good first PS game and good 2nd PS game. The guy who did the PR write up about least impressive clearly didn’t watch the game very carefully or knows nothing about CB play.

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  5. From what I have seen as to Watson, he makes the Roster. He hasn’t played great, but he sure hasn;t played badly. I believe we will carry 5 WR’s so I would focus more on that 5th spot between 3 other WR’s other than Watson.

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  6. I don’t know the rules reguarding Injured Players by any stretch, but correct me if I’m wrong, I have a feelin that since JPP is listed as a Non football Injury that he does not tie up a Roster Spot which is why he can’t be on the Sidelines with the team despite still counting towards the Cap.

    With the type of Athlete JPP has been since I watched him at USF (Go Bulls), I would imagine he will be the best Dlineman as soon as he steps foot on that field again. If they don’t cut ties to bring someone else in of course.

    As much as I Love JPP, I was never sure how he would fit into this Defense. I saw Nassib drop into coverage last year and succeed which is why I was more confident in him adjusting. JPP is the type of player that could drop into any Defense and challenge Double Digit Sacks but thinking long term, with him only having a few years left before his injury, I wonder if it would be better to let him retire now and find a true 4-3 DE/OLB to fit in now. Time will tell what ends up being the right choice.

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  7. Also, in case anyone was wondering, Josh Allen apparently is a backup on the Jags and the bottom has fallen out on the odds of him getting Defensive Rookie of the year. Ed Oliver has the same odds and has been pretty absent so far as well.

    I know White still has some learning to do himself but so far it doesn’t seem like the 2 other choices people were clamoring for are performing at the rate that should make anyone regret the choice.

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  8. I also am and have been concerned more about O line and their lack of depth than any other position since camp started and that hasn’t changed. While I think starters look ok Capp seems ready now) and coaching appears much better depth is non existent. I Pray they don’t have injuries.

    I also hope to see starters play more than one series this week. Arians knows what he’s doing I’m sure, but I want to see more from all starters offense and defense as arm chair coach. Lol.

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  9. Zach Bailey seems to be coming along nicely. Best case scenario is that he makes the squad backing up Cappa. Worst case scenario is he is an ideal PS candidate. Either way I think he has much upside and it is worth exploring further IMVHO.

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  10. As far as my expectations as to which rookies and UDFAs make the team and what their “pecking order” will be I am watching this.

    BA has proclaimed that guys with a lot of penalties and other mental errors will eliminate themselves from contention. This would mean that no matter how many flash plays they have they could lose out.

    Let’s see how consistent and true to his word Arians is. This could mean a few surprises for us fans when seeing how the roster shakes out by day one of the season.
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    Go Bucs!!!

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  11. Zach Bailey was called for a penalty last Friday but the ref called the wrong number. I would love to see him make it but he will have to outplay Uhatafe, who has OG experience in the NFL first. Zach made second string All SEC Guard in the SEC before we got him so he does have a chance at it.

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    • That was a phantom penalty so I am not worried about it.

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  12. David Kenny has a serious get off!!

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