Day two of the Bucs rookie mini-camp went down on Saturday and the Bucs biggest star, Devin White, continued a successful run of the rookie weekend. After day one saw highlights from rookie defensive backs Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting, it was the linebackers and edge rushers that stole the show on Saturday.
Before the players hit the field for practice, we got to hear from sixth-round pick Scotty Miller, free agent signing Nick Fitzgerald, and seventh-round pick Terry Beckner Jr.
Miller is in a unique situation as the only offensive player selected by the Bucs in the 2019 draft. The former Bowling Green receiver got on the team’s radar after running a 4.3 40-yard dash at his pro day. While Miller wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, he’s used the slight as motivation to form an underdog mentality as he comes to mini-camp.
#Bucs Scotty Miller on keeping that underdog mentality.
Next up to speak with the media was former Mississippi State quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald. Signing as a free agent, Fitzgerald chose the Bucs in part because he has family in Florida, and wanted to learn under the coaching staff that they have here. Miller believes it is a big help getting coached by Byron Leftwich, who had his own lengthy career.
Fitzgerald is a quarterback for now, but Bruce Arians sees Fitzgerald being used in a number of different roles on this team. He’s been compared to a Joe Webb or Taysom Hill type player, and Fitzgerald is more than okay to play any position that the Bucs ask of him if he makes the team.
After the early morning press conferences, it was time for the rookies to start practice. Right from the get go, White was making noise early on the field. On Friday, he dropped a would-be interception that would have been a pick-six, but on Saturday, White made up for it right away with a pick-six over the middle.
He showed off his athleticism making the interception on a ball that was a little behind him, where he had to spin to make the catch just before the receiver was about to. White has been all over the field during the mini-camp, displaying a wide range of traits from pass coverage to leadership.
Another defensive player that has caught the eye of coaches while making a name for himself is not as well known, but he should be soon. Outside linebacker David Kenney from Indiana has been brilliant on the pass rush using his speed. Kenney is here on a tryout, but he’s already received an invitation to OTA’s on Tuesday.
Outside of White, it was without a doubt Kenney that stood out most on defense. He was in the backfield on almost every play and would have a multiple sacks if you were allowed to hit the quarterback. Kenney got the attention of Bruce Arians, who complimented him after practice. It’s still early, but keep an eye on Kenney. He may have a shot to make the team.
The Bucs had a brief scare during practice as second round pick Jamel Dean started limping and then went to the ground. After a trainer went over to work on his for a couple of minutes, Dean was then back on his feet and walking. It looked to be some cramping in his calf. Dean has had a great camp so far, including both a pass breakup and interception on Friday.
On the offensive side of the ball, it was the aforementioned Scotty Miller that had another good practice. He is using all of his speed to beat the soft spots in zone coverage, and on Saturday he was making plays downfield as well. He made two 20+ yard receptions and along with an exceptional catch on a ball that was so low, it almost hit the ground. His hands were like a magnet to the football, as he didn’t drop any passes during practice.
One other wide receiver that look good out there was Spencer Schnell out of Illinois State. Schnell has a similar size and build to Miller, and conveniently enough are separated by one number as Miller wears 10 and Schnell wears 11. Schnell had a strong outing, using his quickness to get separation from the defensive backs and had a nice sideline catch where he kept his feet in bounds to make the play.
When practice ended, Bruce Arians had a press conference to discuss what he saw out on the field. He summed it up saying that it was a great practice, and was impressed by some players, especially the draft picks. The Bucs were originally supposed to practice again on Sunday, but he decided to cancel it.
Arians spoke on why he likes Sean Murphy-Bunting and Mike Edwards so much at nickel. He said their versatility was a big part as to why the Bucs selected them, and each will get a shot at playing that role here.
He went on to compare Scotty Miller to a former player of his, John Brown, and praised the rookie Miller for carrying that underdog mentality. Arians next ended the day by explaining how he sees most of the rookie draft picks and undrafted free agents contributing to the team this year.