Close to 90 men showed up to One Buc Place on Tuesday morning to try and make the most of their practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knowing that all 90 won’t make the final cut.

Organized team activities, or OTAs as they’re often abbreviated, are the first regulated practices for the entire signed roster. In it, players get the chance to make first impression, both as young players or veterans. For the young guys, this is their first real chance to go up against legitimate NFL players. For the veterans, this can be their coming out part to showcase themselves after a weight loss or a weight gain, anything that might catch attention in a good way.

But the whole catching attention part doesn’t always come in a good way. Sometimes the struggles show, too. On the offensive side of the ball, there were plenty of storylines to highlight, both positive and negative. Here were our notes from day one of Bucs OTA.


OTAs are voluntary, and that’s key to remember. So, as we mention names that might be missing throughout the next few weeks, that doesn’t necessarily mean a player is unhappy with his situation. Wide receiver Mike Evans sat out of practice today, but he was involved in helping out with the drills and talking to the receivers. Rookie running back Jeremy McNichols, Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick, was also a non-participant as he is still recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.

Here’s The Kicker

Bucs K Nick Folk –Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Since the players are only in shorts and helmets, there are things to notice in position or one-on-one drills, but significance has to be tempered know that contact will change things. But, there’s one aspect of the game, contact or not, that carries weight in practice. That is with kicking.

After a troubling rookie season, Bucs Robert Aguayo was essentially put on the hot seat when the team brough in veteran kicker, Nick Folk.

In their first showdown of the 2017 practice season, Folk took the lead by going an impressive 4-for-4 on the skinny goal posts. Aguayo, on the other hand, went just 1-for-4. Not only did Folks’ kicks go right down the middle, they were also kicked with significantly more power than Aguayo’s. We’re one day into practice and things don’t look good for the former Florida State record holder.

Aguayo lined up for four medium-range kicks on the skinny goal posts, which are about half as wide as regulation NFL goal posts. Aguayo’s first kick hit the right upright. Then he overcompensated and was wide left. Then he overcompensated again and was wide right before making his final field goal.

Had Aguayo lined up for field goals on a regular uprights, he would have made two and perhaps three, but he wouldn’t have been perfect. Folk, who was signed this offseason as competition after Aguayo was the worst-rated kicker in the NFL last year as a rookie, was perfect. He nailed all four of his kicks right down the middle of the skinny uprights and made an incredible first impression.

Guess Who’s Back?

Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Running back Doug Martin was back on the field and in a Buccaneers uniform as the team’s No. 1 back, something many people have been looking forward to for some time.

Martin looked lean today. he looked like his body fat was at a minimum, and from a body weight standpoint certainly looked the part of the praise he’s been getting from the coaches that he’s as good as he’s looked since his 2015 season.

Martin was the No. 1 running back during position drills as well as when the team took the field for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. It seems their faith in him was no bluff.

Rocky O.J.

O.J. Howard looked as good as you would have expected him to look during the rookie mini-camp. He was clearly one of the more talented players on the roster that weekend, and showed some nice flashes during the practices.

On  Tuesday, however, things were much less smooth. Howard dropped three passes in position drills by my count, and looked a bit tired, to be honest. Both he and Cameron Brate were paired with Winston during the passing drills, and it was clear which player had better chemistry with the quarterback.

Now, this is certainly nothing to freak out over, but we have to write what we saw. And, honestly, it’s what you’d expect. Howard is going through the chemistry portions with his quarterback and with the Buccaneers in general. It wasn’t a crisp day for him, but there will be plenty more practices to get better.

In terms of a first-, second-, and third-team depth chart, Brate was running with the top unit, Howard was second and Antony Auclair was getting whatever reps were after that.

The Fab 5

For a unit that will be tracked all offseason and into training camp, here’s what the Buccaneers “first team” offensive line was when the drills got underway.

LT: Donovan Smith
LG: Kevin Pamphile
C: Ali Marpet
RG: J.R. Sweezy
RT: Demar Dotson

So, yes, Marpet is starting at center, and, yes, Pamphile is starting at guard. But, the big question for the offensive line going into 2017 was what the status of J.R. Sweezy would be. For now, the status is “starter.” The bigger question is how he’ll hold up when contact comes into play. But, he’s passes the first milestone so far.

Rusty Ryan

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The debut of newly signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was similar to that of Howard in that it was less than impressive. Fitzpatrick was off on several of his throws during individuals and during the team periods. That’s understandable given several factors.

First, he hasn’t been working out at a team facility as the former New York Jets starter was an unsigned free agent until he agreed to terms with Tampa Bay on Friday. Second, Fitzpatrick has just begun to learn Dirk Koetter’s playbook and the routes that are involved in the passing game. And third, Fitzpatrick has no timing down with the Bucs running backs, tight ends and receivers as Tuesday was the first day he spent throwing to them.

It may take some time for Fitzpatrick to develop the timing that fellow backup quarterback Ryan Griffin has with Tampa Bay’s pass-catchers. Griffin has a two-year head start on the playbook, too. It’s early, but don’t count Griffin out of the mix for the No. 2 quarterback job. There is a reason why Fitzpatrick was released from the Jets and was not immediately sought after in free agency. Fitzpatrick needs to step it up in terms of his conditioning and accuracy in order to beat out Griffin, who had a good day throwing the ball.

The One to Watch

One interesting storyline that had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with fashion was wide receiver DeSean Jackson wearing No. 1 instead of his game day No. 11.

When asked about this after practice, Jackson said it’s something he’s been doing for a long time. He said he’s always loved the No. 1, even as a kid, and wishes he could wear it during games. He told the story of when he was in college at Cal and had his name in the conversation for the Heisman trophy, the national media called him “The One to Watch.” He said he’s taken that with him into his NFL career.

Jackson said that when you play wide receiver, you have to have a swagger about you. Wearing No. 1 is the swag Jackson carries with him when he goes to work.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for 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:
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4 years ago

This offensive line is better than the previous two years on paper. Pamphile is a better offensive lineman that he is given credit for, and Sweazy at right guard makes a lot of sense based on his experience.

As for Marpet: He’s quick, smart, and one hell of a run grader. I like the move to center for him and the offensive line.

Marpet will help clear out the space between the guards for running backs, and that’s only a good thing.

Alldaway 2.0
4 years ago

The problem with Aguayo is that it looks like he lacks the power to be an NFL kicker. This is why his accuracy suffers as he is over compensating when the range is increased. The bigger problem is Aguayo lacks accuracy inside 40 yards too and on PATS.

Reply to  Alldaway 2.0
4 years ago

It’s got to be all in his head because he booms kicloffs through the end zone. The only positive was at least he finally got it in on the last kick after making adjustments.

4 years ago

Capice is Kaput!

Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

It was just hysterical when John McKay said that famous quote and sent George Yarno in to kick. If Roberto doesn’t show he is capable of being the kicker it will be “Adios Arguayo!”

4 years ago

Unless something miraculous happens, Robert is screwed. In my opinion, he would have to go perfect to retain the job. It’s ashame really as he was the best kicker I saw coming out of college, although his final year was a bit of a foreshadowing of troubles come to roost. I’d be shocked if he made the team. AS for the other guys not being there, we don’t know there reasons, but when a guy like Baker comes in and is called lazy by his past team, this doesn’t look good to me. But again, it’s voluntary. I don’t mind… Read more »

Reply to  cgmaster27
4 years ago

I never saw anyone from the Redskins call Baker lazy. Where did you see that?

Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 years ago

It was all over NFL. Com and other sites. But there were numerous coaches that claimed he wasn’t the best practice guy. All anonymous ofcourse, but as a new guy, he should be here regardless if it’s voluntary or not. He might of had a legit excuse though so I can say really. Just hoping it’s the later is all.

Reply to  cgmaster27
4 years ago

I’m not trying to give you a hard time or anything like that, just trying to find this info. Any links to stories? Google isn’t helping me here.

4 years ago

It’s amazing to me that a kicker named Zane Gonzales who is the all time leading field goal kicker in collegiate history and hit with 92% accuracy and has records with most field goals in a game beyond 50 yds “3” went to the seventh round of this yr’s draft and Arguayo went in the second round and yes I know he also holds a kicking record but all time leading kicker in NCAA history goes in 7th round it doesn’t make sense to me

Reply to  jongruden
4 years ago

You’re right – it doesn’t make any sense. The end. It was an incredibly stupid thing to do.

4 years ago

Too early to count Roberto out. I’m not sure what the heck he has been doing this off season not to come in atleast with some more strength in his kicking. It’s all about the pressure and he better stay focused.

4 years ago

The best thing for everyone involved, including us fans, is if Roberto fails miserably early and often and they can cut him loose sooner than later. I’ve seen hundreds of NFL kickers live over the years and this dude simply doesn’t have it…point blank.

4 years ago

Noticed our boy Sikkema get cited in a Deadspin article. Going national fellas!!

4 years ago

I sad I thought Aguayo was toast before either kicker did anything yet this off season. Folk will take his job. I agree he just doesn’t have it. Nothing against him personally. Never liked the pick one bit though.

Reply to  fredster
4 years ago

Aguayo was toast when everyone learned that he couldn’t handle the pressure of being an NFL kicker last preseason. Folk will take his job because he’s a better kicker and deserves to be on an NFL team, unlike Aguayo who was gifted a position he couldn’t handle but the team held onto purely due to their draft investment.

4 years ago

If Aguayo fails do we draft a kicker in the 1st next year?

4 years ago

I just hope someone at PR has crafted a great question for the Licht press conference when it’s been announced that Aguayo has been cut.

Something along the lines of “Jason, at what point did you realize you made the worst draft choice of your professional career?”

Reply to  devasher
4 years ago

Forget worst of his career. It’s one of the worst draft picks….well, maybe ever. And that would be true if he was anything other than an ELITE kicker. If he flops entirely, then it’s arguably the worst draft pick I’ve ever seen. Picking a kicker when there were dozens of legitimate potential starters at valuable positions still on the board.

4 years ago

Gee whiz, day one of OTA’s, four practice kicks and our “jury of jeers” has already called for rolling out the guillotine. I’m surprised there aren’t some folks questioning O.J.’s reportedly shaky start. It may well be an eventuality that Nick Folk wins the job, maybe even before Training Camp, but I’m sure the organization is going to let the competition play out a bit longer than day one, kicking session one.

4 years ago

Caption that pic! Nick Folk glaring at Aguayo. Roberto with some stupid look on his face. That kid has no chance.

‘So I just have to beat out THAT guy?!’