While Bucs players report today, training camp officially kicks off tomorrow with Tampa Bay’s first practice of the 2021 season. As our training camp battle series comes to a close, we’ll take a look back at each position we’ve covered. The stories are linked below with a brief synopsis of each battle. I also take a stab at a 53-man roster prediction and practice squad.
In the quarterback preview we took a look at the battles Blaine Gabbert will face. Up against rookie Kyle Trask for the backup job and Ryan Griffin for a spot on the roster, his experience in the system should give him an advantage. While Griffin is most likely the odd man out in this competition, a strong showing in camp could earn him a spot on the practice squad.
With the starting job up for grabs, all eyes will be here during camp. Ronald Jones led the team in yards last season, but recency bias could weigh in Leonard Fournette’s favor after an impressive postseason. How newcomer Giovani Bernard will work into the mix will be something to watch, as well as the progression of Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
The odds of the Bucs keeping seven wide receivers on the roster is slim. However, Justin Watson and Jaydon Mickens will make their best case during camp. The key to a successful bid will be to show out on special teams. Mickens will have to prove he is indispensable as a returner, while Watson needs to show more as a wide receiver.
Whether the Bucs keep a fourth tight end on the roster as insurance for the oft-injured O.J. Howard will be a storyline worth monitoring throughout camp. At the expense of a roster spot elsewhere, it will take an impressive showing by bottom three tight ends to earn a spot on the team.
The Bucs are guaranteed to keep eight offensive linemen due to league rules. The team is likely to keep at least nine linemen on the roster, with competition for the final spot coming from Brad Seaton and young, inexperienced players. Versatility will be the key to making the team out of camp.
The Bucs managed to return every starter and depth piece from the defensive line in 2020. Young and hungry, players like Benning Potoa’e and Jeremiah Ledbetter could challenge veteran Steve McLendon for his spot. There should be solid competition on the back end, with the possibility of a veteran signing during camp.
Adding rookie Joe Tryon in the first round will push all other outside linebackers down the roster. How quickly the rookie can get up to speed and see meaningful snaps will be worth noting. While Anthony Nelson’s development as a pass rusher will be crucial in holding off Cam Gill and Quinton Bell.
To try to fill the revolving door at depth linebacker, the Bucs invested in two draft picks at the position. They also brought in veteran special teams ace Joe Jones from Denver. The battle for the fourth spot will come down to special teams contributions, with Jones the heavy favorite.
A mix of youth and veterans make up the corner room. The battle here will come down to the fifth spot and will be heavily special teams dependent. Former special teams captain Ryan Smith saw zero snaps on defense last season. Antonio Hamilton, Cameron Kinley, Herb Miller and others will compete for the final cornerback spot.
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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