It felt like seeing this Buccaneers’ defense all lined up together in training camp was a long time coming, and with now a plethora of options to choose from, especially along the defensive line — imagine that — there were questions as to which players would be starters and which would be coming on in what the Bucs are hoping is a “second wave” of a deep pass rushing and run stuffing rotation.
In base defense (meaning four linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs), the Buccaneers put their beef on the line first with Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Jason Pierre-Paul playing next to Gerald McCoy — none of which started next to McCoy or were even on the team last season.
The other interesting things to note were Vernon Hargreaves as the starting outside cornerback and Ardarius Taylor as the team’s third linebacker on run downs.
The second team defense featured three rookies: cornerback Carlton Davis, safety Jordan Whitehead and defensive tackle Vita Vea.
Vea was a high draft pick in last year’s draft, and him not in the starting lineup means no rookies were listed as starters, for now. We’ll see if he works his way up ahead of some of the vets.
No Noah Spence in on base defense, to start, but those formations are mainly use for early downs and run plays. Spence would have likely been in the rotation and maybe even starting for pass rushing formations.
Though he wasn’t in on the first or second teams for base defense, rookie cornerback M.J. Stewart may have had the best day of any defender.
Stewart, who played in just about every spot a defensive back can play in during his career at UNC, made his first play as a slot cornerback in the play above. Stewart is a motivated and physical defensive back who provides the Bucs with a safety/nickel cornerback hybrid option, which is becoming popular around the league.
Stewart’s second play of the day actually came from the outside cornerback spot. Stewart uses physicality to play receivers close and forces a quarterback to either hit a perfect throw or risk a pass break up or interception.
He likely had the best day of any rookie and maybe even any defender.
Near the end of practice we were given a treat of a play in an interception by Gerald McCoy.
If you called McCoy being the first Bucs player to get an interception in training camp, I’d like to have a conversation with you about next week’s lottery numbers.
A fun way to start camp for the veteran defensive tackle.