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: What do rookies do between now and start of camp?
Answer: Tampa Bay’s rookies have been getting settled in the team hotel, getting acclimated to the city and finding their way around the AdventHealth Training Center at One Buccaneer Place somewhat and getting mentally ready for the grind of camp that officially kicks off on Friday with the first practice.
The Bucs rookies will be taking their physicals this week ahead of the veterans and probably work on some conditioning tests so the staff can see what type of shape they are in. I know the Bucs also spend some time helping the players with the day-to-day aspects of life, such as banking and investing, paying bills, and all the things that young adults need to learn.
You have to remember most of these players have never lived on their own before. They went from high school to college where they are housed in dorms, fed three times a day and are fairly pampered with coaches and academic advisors overseeing their lives. The little nuances of being an adult out in the real world is something most of them haven’t experienced yet. Some of this takes place in the offseason, and some of it will also continue following camp, especially for some of the undrafted free agents who will end up making the team.
I am guessing most of the rookies are spending hours each day in their playbook, trying to get the terminology down and to grasp the scheme with the coaches help this week. I also am guessing they are reviewing the film of how they performed during the OTAs and mini-camps.
But as mentioned above, the mental part of being a professional athlete begins in earnest this week.
Question: Which UDFA pass rusher stands out the most and could be the next Jacquies Smith (without the injury problems)?
Answer: Free agent David Kenney was probably the most impressive no-name guy during the offseason practices we were able to view. The 6-2, 250-pound rookie was as explosive off the edge as any player we saw – rookie or veteran. Now how that translates once the pads come on has yet to be seen. But he did catch the eye of head coach Bruce Arians this spring, who noted when the team’s rookie mini-camp ended that Kenney was a guy who showed him a lot.
In his latest SR’s Fab 5, Scott Reynolds featured Kenney and you can read about Kenney’s outlook and background story by clicking here.
Question: What if the “talent” really is on the roster? What if the drafts have been better then the results because of misuse? What if this is perfect scheme meets players? Could this be a perfect storm?
Answer: The problem with storms, even perfect ones, is it is nearly impossible to know exactly how they will turn out. A meteorologist can have a path predicted with relative certainty to only see it veer off course any the last minute. There is nothing different about the NFL, especially the Buccaneers, when it comes to predictions. There are always a few surprise teams in the league – teams that overachieve or underachieve.
We all thought everything was falling into place in 2017 with the team coming off a 9-7 season the year before, with new additions like DeSean Jackson, and quarterback Jameis Winston entering his third season. HBO’s Hard Knocks showed up, Tampa Bay performed well in the preseason, then the wheels started to fall off when Winston went down with a shoulder injury. Things never got back on track and a 5-11 season ensued, followed by the same record last year.
Will this year be different? Nearly everyone in Tampa Bay certainly hopes so and a lot of that optimism comes from the hire of Arians, who has two NFL Coach of the Year awards on the mantle behind his desk upstairs at One Buc Place.
All of the things you mentioned in your question might absolutely be true, but even so, the Buccaneers will need a bit of luck to go from last place in the division to being a playoff team in 2019. That’s what makes football, and sports in general, so fun. Right now every team is undefeated and tied for first place in their division.
Question: Who comes out of camp as RB1?
Answer: It would be a shock to most if it isn’t Peyton Barber. The former Auburn undrafted free agent is the most experienced back between he and Ronald Jones II, and the offensive staff has been very complimentary of Barber after watching his film from the last couple of seasons.
Right now this staff has full faith in Barber and in what he can bring to the Bucs offense. Barber doesn’t need to run for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he and the running game will need to be much better in 2019 for the team to sniff the postseason.
In a perfect world, Barber eclipses the 1,000 mark and Jones becomes a dependable complimentary back that can be the home run threat and receiver out of the backfield.
Barring a major injury, it is Barber’s job to lose and I expect to see him get the bulk of the carries this year.