When it’s hot, when it’s loud, when the conditions aren’t exactly what you want them to be, that’s often when you see offenses struggle. That’s not their environment.
On defense, it’s the opposite. The more distractions, the hotter, the louder; that seems to be the better, and with the heat cranked up and a crowd of military guests in attendance, you could tell some of the Bucs defenders had some extra juice on Saturday.
Early in the day, one of the first things we noticed was that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was getting some work in from the defensive tackle position.
Now, this isn’t to say that the team is looking for Pierre-Paul to put on 30 pounds and play full-time defensive tackle, but they are going to get creative with him.
On Friday, we saw the Bucs throw Pierre-Paul inside with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on the interior on pass rushing situations with Vinny Curry and Noah Spence on the edges.
Expect this defensive creativity to continue.
The Bucs offense was airing it out on Saturday, and that, of course, led to some catches, but also gave way to some good plays from the cornerbacks.
What would have been one of the best plays of the day is shown above, as undrafted rookie cornerback Mark Myers let one slip right through his hands. A interception there would have gone a long way for him toward making this roster.
After getting burnt pretty good for a catch by wide receiver Mike Evans early in the day, the team’s top cornerback Brent Grimes recovered nicely with a few plays like the one seen above.
Grimes has always been one to not let catches get in his head, and that’s a good lesson for some of the rookie defensive backs on the team.
And speaking of rookie defensive backs…
Rookie cornerback M.J. Stewart had the best day of any defensive back.
Vernon Hargreaves was sitting out today due to a laceration on his shin that he suffered on Friday. Hargreaves was up and walking around the field, so it doesn’t appear to be as a serious as Grimes’ injury was last year, but they did hold Hargreaves out of practice on Saturday.
Stewart started in the slot with the first team in his place and he played very well. He had an interception on quarterback Jameis Winston, had what would have been a sack in the play above on a blitz and was overall very good in coverage.
Stewart also had a stand-out day on the very first day of camp on Thursday, so that’s two out of three days in which Stewart has really stood out above the rest.
That’s a good start for the rookie.