Bucs WR Kenny Bell - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs’ OC/WR coach Todd Monken said it’s too early to identify a front-runner for the slot receiver position, though there are a few players in particular that he feels are qualified for the role.
While Tampa Bay didn’t add any competition through free agency or the draft this offseason, Monken suggested that Kenny Bell and Evan Spencer, players who didn’t take the field in a regular season game in 2015, could be considered added depth from a year ago.
“That’s not true,” Monken said of those suggesting the Bucs haven’t improved from the standpoint of depth. “We have Kenny Bell, who was injured last year. We have Evan Spencer. Both were draft picks who add to the mix and will get a chance in the slot.”
Spencer, drafted by Washington in the sixth round out of Ohio State in 2015, signed with the Bucs in September and was promoted to the active roster by December. He dressed for one game in Week 16 but didn’t see any game action.
Bell, meanwhile, was Tampa Bay’s fifth-round choice out of Nebraska who came in with relatively high expectations to assume the slot role from the start. While the 6-foot-1 wideout showed promise during last year’s training camp – where he was Jameis Winston’s roommate – he didn’t make much of an impact during the first two weeks of the preseason before a hamstring injury in Week 3 sent him to IR for the remainder of his rookie year.
Now healthy and entering his second offseason, Bell seems to be in good position heading into training camp. Having a red-shirt year, in effect, should prepare him both mentally and physically.
“I think you can always benefit from standing back and watching,” Monken said. “I think that helped Kenny. I think he’s getting better every day. He’s maturing every day as a player, and his confidence level… Half of it is believing that you belong here. Half of it is believing that you can play at this level.
“Grit, determination, want-to, perseverance, and intelligence – does he have that? We’ll find out.”
Time will tell if Bell can win the slot wide receiver position this season and add a fifth starter to the Bucs 2015 draft class, but so far, Monken has liked what he’s seen out of the young pro.
“Kenny’s got talent,” Monken said. “Kenny can run, he can bend, he’s athletic, he’s really smart. I think he’s excited about getting back out there and giving himself a chance to compete.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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I love his nickname “Afro-Thunder”! Go Bucs!!!
Me too, I wonder how the heck he fits that under his helmet. Haha
I really hope Kenny can stay healthy and bring some much needed speed to our receiving core. Not only that, but the guy is one hell of a blacker. Even better than our almighty Luke Stocker, and that’s saying a lot.
Agreed. Plus, I bet it helps prevent concussions!
Less concerned about speed in the slot…more concerned about hands of glue…we’ve seen lots of guys run through the slot for us and we’re still looking for the guy that catches everything thrown his way…
hope it can be one of these guys in 2016…
I believe Bell will beat out Murphy this year. I think the year of allowed him to adjust…Him and Humphries should do well.
I think Bell will end up getting cut. Just a hunch. Will have to see how it plays out. It’s do or die this year for him for sure.
I believe the knock on Bell last year in training camp was inconsistent hands.
I never saw or heard about this problem when he was at Nebraska so hopefully it was due to the rigors of camp and a new system.
I’m not down on Murphy and the Bucs have a manageable number on him, but his problem is disappears in games sometimes and he has plenty of speed. Not sure he actually likes or wants to be a slot receiver due to the physical nature of the position.
I think Humphries had a B season last year and caught practically everything Winston threw to him. He doesn’t mind going over the middle and he’s quick and knows how to find the soft spots in zone coverage.
Dye had trouble of his own with his hands last year and almost made a huge bonehead mistake against the Rams but was saved by Luke Stocker’s field awareness.
For being a pretty good receiver at LSU, Russell Shepherd had never made much of an impact as a WR in Tampa Bay.
Watched Kenny Bell in Training Camp. He’s very smooth and graceful but appeared to be pressing a bit instead of relaxing and let it all come naturally when catching the ball. Two more months and we’ll see how they all look.
He is a 5th round draft choice. Me thinks he will need to contribute in other areas to stick. People downplay Murphy but he was good in the slot before he got hurt.
Murphy has great speed, experience, and knows how to get open, and will beat out Bell because Murphy has great hands too. Bell can be the reserve Slot Receiver and contribute on special teams. At least Bell is much better than Dye and should knock Dye off the roster…..
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