With Rookie Mini-Camp in the rearview mirror, it was time for the rest of the Bucs roster to join the newcomers on the practice field for the team’s OTAs.
Not all of the Buccaneers’ OTA practices will be open to the media (none are open to the public), but Tuesday was the first one that we were able to take a peak at and get Bucs fans some notes on.
These were our big takeaways from Tuesday’s practice.
Jackson Back In Action
We’ll get to some of the players who weren’t participating in a second, but of the players who were out there getting reps in on Tuesday, the big name was wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
The reason why Jackson’s attendance is so important to many is because these practices are still voluntary. Jackson often does his own thing over in California with a speed trainer for most of the offseason, and though he has been out there to do some of that, it was still a question mark as to whether or not he would come back to Tampa Bay before the mandatory practices.
He did, and tat could go a long way in his chemistry with quarterback Jameis Winston.
There were two different categories for players who did not participate in Tuesday’s OTAs: those who were still there and those who weren’t. Of those there, standing on the sidelines without helmets, were offensive tackle Donovan Smith, wide receiver Justin Watson and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy. Those who weren’t out there were defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, cornerback Brent Grimes, linebacker Kendell Beckwith and offensive tackle Demar Dotson. Beckwith and Dotson were the expected ones due to their injuries.
Rookie safety Jordan Whitehead was also not present. He missed the last day of Rookie Mini-Camp with a hamstring injury.
Projecting the Starters
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive tackle Beau Allen were the two interior linemen who were taking what you would call the “first reps.” That sort of hinted to us that they would be the top pairing when it came to 11-on-11, too.
That was indeed the case.
Above were the starting lineups for both base and nickel defense from the first practice of OTAs that we were able to observe.
Now, of course, there will likely be some changes. Grimes and Pierre-Paul not being at practice are two that you can plug in and change. But, for starters, that’s a good look at how this team seems to be approaching the new talent on their roster.
The team was switching up their defensive line quite a bit. Defensive end William Gholston confirmed what we had heard about him by looking much more comfortable at his new weight. Gholston’s coaches have noted this offseason that he might have been playing a little too heavy last season, and this year he looks much more comfortable. They were rotating him in and out at defensive end and defensive tackle.
Noah Spence wasn’t on the first team for the base defensive, but was rotating in on nickel situations, situations that call for longer down and distances with more potential for pass rush.
We did not get to see the team go through punt returning drills, but for kick returning duties, wide receiver Adam Humphries, rookie running back Shaun Wilson, rookie running back Ronald Jones, running back Jacquizz Rodgers and safety Justin Evans were the handful of players who were back fielding kickoffs. Humphries and Rodgers were the main players with kick and punt return duties in 2017.
What a year it has been for running back Peyton Barber. A year ago Barber was getting the last or second to last reps in the running back drills behind Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims. Now, as of Tuesday, he was the first man in line.
Barber also started as the team’s top running back during the 11-on-11 drills. Rookie running back Ronald Jones was the second man in.
And since we know you all were wondering, Bucs free agent kicker Chandler Catanzaro made all five of his field goal tries on Tuesday while rookie kicker from Northern Texas, Trevor Moore, went 4-for-5 with his one miss going square off the upright.
The next media OTA is this Thursday. Make sure you check back in with PewterReport.com between now and then for future updates.