The Bucs struck it rich in the second-round of the 2020 draft when they selected Antoine Winfield, Jr. The former Minnesota Gopher was a starter from day one. He played an instrumental role in helping Tampa Bay win Super Bowl LV.

In his rookie season, he started all 16 games, racking up 94 tackles, three sacks, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. He followed it up with a Pro Bowl season last year that included 88 tackles, two sacks, six passes defended, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries – all while missing three games.

Yet Bucs safeties coach Nick Rapone said Tuesday that he thinks Winfield is capable of much more, and challenged the third-year pro to intercept more passes this season.

Bucs FS Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Bucs FS Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill – Photo by: USA Today

“I think Antoine just gets better and better. That’s the type of kid he is because of his father and his background. He’s just a blue-collar guy,” Rapone said. “The one thing with Winfield where I challenged him this year is – run-support wise, you’re beautiful – and you’re beautiful in a lot of areas.

“Let’s start getting six and seven interceptions a year. Let’s make that the next step where you’re going to get six or seven interceptions. The real good players and the best players love to get challenged. So, that’s the challenge this year – let’s get six and seven interceptions. We know you can blitz, we know you can tackle. We know you can pass defend – let’s get the football a little more.”

An Ascending Talent

Winfield made the Pro Bowl last season and the arrow is only pointing up for him. It shouldn’t be long until he is regarded as one of the best free safeties in the league if he isn’t already. He’s not only performed well in the regular season, but has shown up when it counts in the playoffs as well. In five postseason games, he’s totaled 32 tackles, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two passes defended. He’s added a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery as well.

If Winfield can answer Rapone’s challenge, he will take his game to another level.

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About the Author: J.C. Allen

J.C. Allen is one of PewterReport.com’s newest beat writers. As a New England transplant, he has closely followed Tom Brady’s entire career and first fell in love with the game during the Patriots 1996 Super Bowl run. J.C. is in his second year covering the team after spending a year with Bucs Report as a writer, producer and show host. Some of his other interests include barbecuing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. His favorite Buccaneer of all time is Simeon Rice and believes he deserves a spot in Canton. Follow J.C. Allen on Twitter @JCAllenNFL.
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Dude
Dude
2 months ago

I think he can do it. It’s a huge challenge, and I believe he’s the kind of player who will answer it.

76bucsfan46
76bucsfan46
2 months ago

You can do it.

Lawdy
Lawdy
1 month ago

Easily one of the most energetic and hard-working players on the defense.

Spitfire
Spitfire
1 month ago

Winfield is Amazing and I already hope he retires a Buc. It’s Amazing having young guys already playing at a Pro Bowl level, I just already worry about not being able to keep them all down the road when they all wanna break the bank. Unfortunately to survive in Football you’ve gotta keep bringing in great young talent to replace the bank breakers constantly. Hopefully we can continue to do that but most importantly, hopefully we can take it all the way back this year!

fredster
fredster
1 month ago

Love the guy. He was a steal in 2nd rd. One of my favorite Jason Licht picks. We need to find a really good SS now as well.