The Bucs held their first practice of rookie mini-camp on Friday. In a pleasant surprise for the coaches, media members and 26 young players alike, the weather was fairly mild by Florida standards as the calendar pushes into mid-May. With highs in the 80’s and a slight breeze, the first day of rookie mini-camp was off and running.
Below are some highlights from the day.
First-Round Pick OLB Joe Tryon Held Out
In the early portion of the practice, Tryon ran alone with a trainer as the rest of the players in attendance ran drills with their positional coaches. Later he was seen with the other edge rushers as they ran drills, but wasn’t wearing a helmet and didn’t participate.
After practice head coach Bruce Arians spoke to the media and announced that Tryon had undergone a “minor scope” on his knee and hadn’t yet passed his physical with the team. As far as a timetable, Arians said that the staff was in no rush to get him back but that he likely wouldn’t miss much more time.
“We’re gonna take it slow,” Arians said. “He’ll be ready for mandatory mini-camp for sure, maybe sooner.”
QB Kyle Trask Far From Perfect In His First Practice
With only five tryout players permitted to participate in rookie mini-camps, a roster that often creeps over 50 players has been limited to just 26 this year for Tampa Bay. With such a comparatively small number of bodies at practice, this leaves some position groups thin. That would include the quarterback position for the Bucs, where second-round pick Trask was the lone signal-caller on the field for Tampa Bay.
After position-specific drills finished up the Bucs moved on to a few very simple seven-on-seven and team drills. When throwing against a live defense, Trask had some nice completions and targeted his fellow draft pick Jaelon Darden often. On the flip side, Trask also had his fair share of struggles on the first day of practice. The 23-year-old rookie watched a number of passes sail too high for his intended receivers and even had one pass intercepted by former Navy defensive back Cameron Kinley.
But when asked about Trask’s performance after practice, Arians had nothing but praise for his newest quarterback.
“He grasped (the offense) very well,” Arians said. “He was throwing the ball where it was supposed to go, had a couple of drops on him. But I thought he looked really good.”
ILB Grant Stuard Already Leading The Defense
As the media is limited to watching the Bucs’ practice from one limited location behind the end zone on the far side of the field, it’s not always easy to pick up what players are saying – or even shouting – as they move between drills. This wasn’t the case for Tampa Bay’s seventh-round pick, Grant Stuard. As the defense was leaving their positional drills and heading over to meet the offense for the team’s seven-on-seven period, Stuard was the first player off of that field and could be heard rallying the defensive side of the ball over.
It may seem like something small in the grand scheme, but for a Day 3 pick who was praised by general manager Jason Licht for his energy, passion and big heart, it may be a major step toward proving that evaluation right at the next level.
WR Darden Catching Punts, Getting Plenty Of Looks
Though Darden was just one of two receivers at rookie mini-camp, he hit it off well with Trask during passing drills. But before that, Darden opened up practice catching punts while the Bucs worked on special teams. He looked very comfortable in that role as the coaches got their first look at the potential starting returner. With his amount of speed, Darden gives himself a chance to win the role.
“He looked really clean catching every single punt,” Arians said. “And he looks really, really explosive as a receiver.”
When it came to the passing drills against the defense, Darden was able to get himself space due to his speed and found a connection with Trask. He was getting open on both sides of the field, catching the attention of the coaches because of it. Since he took every single rep on the field, he was gassed by the end of it.
“I thought he looked really really good until he got really tired,” Arians said. ” He took every single rep.”
Hainsey Working At Center
While it’s usually tough to gauge how well an offensive lineman is doing in a practice with no pads on, there was a note of interest in Robert Hainsey due to the position he was playing. Hainsey told the media before practice that he was going to play center during this mini-camp. It was not known exactly where he would be playing at the time due to his versatility.
“I’m working center right now.” Hainsey said. “I like it. I think it fits me well, I think I know what I’m doing. [I’m] learning the offense as much as I can but trying to help all the other guys too and get us in the right position to do our jobs.”
Hainsey worked in drills with the offensive lineman but was also seen getting one-one-one coaching with an assistant coach. Overall, coach Arians was pleased with how the first day of practice went down.