On the schedule, this was day three of training camp for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But, if you ask those who really love the game of football, Sunday was when camp really began, as it was the first practice where the players were in full pads.
With the light green for contact on, Sunday was the day for players on the Buccaneers to really begin to proven themselves worthy of being on the final 53-man roster.
One of the players who is trying to make a name for himself on this roster is rookie cornerback Jamel Dean. Dean was at the podium for the first time before practice kicked off and said that the speed of the game is something he’s trying to master right off the bat.
On the other side of the ball, second-year wide receiver Justin Watson is likely more acclimated to the speed of the game than the first-year rookie Dean, however, acclimating to his new role in Bruce Arians offense is something Watson is learning early on in camp.
Watson spoke about what having a versatile role in Arians’ offense looks like, and why Larry Fitzgerald was his most-watched player this summer.
As Arians’ time in Arizona progressed, so did the ways in which they used their top receiver Fitzgerald. He wasn’t just an outside receiver in their system. In fact, there weren’t many receivers who played for Arians in Arizona who just played one role in the passing attack. Expect the Bucs aerial attack to be pretty versatile, and for Watson to play a bigger role now that Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson are gone.
Due to weather (shocker), the Bucs opened their afternoon practice in the indoor practice facility. While inside, we learned which players were sidelined for the day. Left tackle Donovan Smith was not practicing due to what Arians later classified as a non-serious achilles tweak. He joined Justin Evans, Jack Cichy, David Kenney, and DeMarkus Lodge and Nick Fitzgerald not practicing.
Of the players who were practicing, the physicality was out early and often.
In the O-Line vs. D-Line drills, defensive tackle Vita Vea was seen going up against center Ryan Jensen in a great battle of strength. These two were far from the only ones going at it, but they definitely set the tone early.
Once the team broke out into 11-on-11, during the running portion of the indoor drills, Vea could not be moved in the middle. His footwork and ability to anchor look much more natural and comfortable than they did last year, and he was hard to move off his spot all practice long, no matter who he was going up against.
Starting quarterback Jameis Winston’s day was fine. As the headline suggests, it was a back-and-forth day between offense and defense. Winston hit a few nice short to intermediate throws, but it was backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert who hit the deep passes on Sunday.
Gabbert was slinging it on Sunday. Some of the throws weren’t as pretty as they could have been, but he was fearless out there on the field. Anytime he saw his wide receivers had a one-on-one or leverage to the outside, he let it fly. He happened to connect on his big ones today, and his confidence ascended all the way through practice because of it.
Without a doubt, the worst part of camp is when we have to tweet updates like the one above. On a play where he was just trying to cover his man and came down off a jump awkwardly, safety Orion Stewart landed funny on his right knee, which caused him to go to the ground and immediately, clutching it in pain. The trainers took a look at him and carted him off right away.
All you can do now is hope it isn’t as serious as it seemed.
Defense Get The Last Laugh
On the final 11-on-11 for the first team, CB Vernon Hargreaves cuts the route for an interception off QB Jameis Winston pic.twitter.com/ZuLRHSGnoN
Though it was an evenly matched day, when it came down to who got the last laugh, Sunday’s final tipping point went to the defense.
In the first team’s initial 11-on-11 2-minute drill, cornerback Vernon Hargeaves III undercut a route perfectly to come up with an interception on quarterback Jameis Winston.
Then, on the next series with the first team, defensive back M.J. Stewart was able to get by the offensive line for a sack. Stewart wasn’t the only extra player on the blitz today, as it seems to be true what we predicted that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ defense is going to be aggressive on all fronts to get pressure on the quarterback.
On the next series, with the second team now in for both sides, linebacker Deone Bucannon should’ve had an interception off a throw by Gabbert to end their series with the ball, as well.
At the end of the day, Arians said it was a bit more sloppy that he would have liked it to be on the first day of pads, but also stated “good thing is we get to do this again tomorrow.”
We’ll be there to cover it all.
See you on Monday, Bucs fans.
White Watch – Backfield Production Increased on Sunday
Bucs rookie middle linebacker Devin White is entering his first NFL training camp in Tampa Bay this season. With some high expectations for the fifth overall pick in the draft, White has already been installed as the play-caller of a brand new defense. PewterReport.com will chronicle each of White’s practices during training camp in the White Watch.
While it wasn’t a bad day by any means, Sunday was a pretty quiet day for rookie Devin White, other than it being his first NFL practice in pads.
After warm-ups and the team’s opening drills, White moved over to passing drills where it’s generally just two receivers running routes over half of the field. It’s tough to make a play on defense if you’re the linebacker covering the underneath route in such a drill. this was more about positioning and recognition than it was play making.
The team then moved to 11-on-11 drills in the indoor facility, and White was free to make a little more of an impact. In the first period of 11-on-11’s, he came flying up the middle and wrapped up running back Ronald Jones for a nice tackle for loss. Soon after, the team was cleared to move outside. Team drills continued outside where White added a nice blitz off of the edge near the end of the period.
A couple of periods later the team moved to more 11-on-11 drills closer to the goal line. White was able to rack up a nice tackle holding the offense to a minimal gain on a run to the left side and a few plays later was able to shed past his blocker, Ali Marpet, and meet Ndamukong Suh and Lavonte David in the backfield for another tackle for loss, this time against Peyton Barber.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: email@example.com
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.