Ladies and gentlemen, football is back.

OK, maybe not completely back, but for a few days this weekend we are able to catch some of the team’s new players running around with a Buccaneers logo on their helmets.

Friday marked the first day of the team’s Rookie Mini-Camp. 56 participants, which included those who were drafted by the team a few weeks ago, got to don team shirts, shorts and helmets while getting coached up a bit by the team’s positional coaches. For some, this was an introduction, for others it was a tryout.

Each man has three days to make a first impression with this coaching staff and as for those who were drafted by the team, what you would call the priority players out at Rookie Mini-Camp, they performed well.

Rookie running back Ronald Jones II had an impressive day and looked as advertised. Head coach Dirk Koetter said following practice that you could see the explosiveness in person that they saw on tape from USC. Early in practice, the running backs and receivers were mixed together and took passes from the quarterbacks. Jones showed the ability to track a pass that was probably a little overthrown right off the bat. The extra gear you want to see from your skill positions was on display from Jones, even if they were still holding back a bit.

First round pick Vita Vea didn’t stand out with any “wow” factor moments and looked a little unsure at times. New Bucs defensive line coach Brentson Buckner didn’t hold back and Vea received no special star treatment. When he didn’t perform a drill as required, Buckner had him back in line. While he may not have stood out with any particular special moments, you could definitely see the reason the Bucs think he can be a difference maker, just based on his size and strength.

For the first part of practice, the defensive line went up against each other in drills, with two defensive linemen simulating offensive linemen. Vea moved through them with ease and imposed his will. And the scary thing is, there is a lot more ceiling left. When the intensity is ramped up and the players are allowed to go full speed in pads it should be fun watching Vea going against Ryan Jenson and other Bucs offensive linemen.

While we all talk about how much better Vea makes the Bucs defensive line, his presence will also make the Bucs offensive line better – in theory, anyway. Not just Vea, but all of the new additions on the defensive line.

New cornerbacks Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart had a mixed bag kind of a day. Davis who is big and strong wasn’t really allowed to play press coverage on Friday except for one play we saw. He went up against Justin Watson and swallowed him.

We rave about Davis’ height, but seeing him in person you got to see how big of a wingspan he has to go along with his height. Davis was lined on the left side for most of the day while Stewart took the right side and also lined up in the slot. Both were physical once the reception was made, in fact, Stewart took a shot on a receiver that made an audible pop throughout the facility.

While receivers won most of the 1-on-1s, which they should this time of year with no safety help or pass rush, neither appeared to lack confidence. Stewart did have a rep against fellow draftee, wide receiver Justin Watson.

Watson got the better of Stewart in that one, and Watson had a pretty good day overall. he looked controlled and polished in his routes, something that certainly stands out when you have a group of all young guys.

As for another draftee, Alex Cappa, who played eft tackle in his final season at Humboldt State, was announced as a guard when he was drafted. He started the scrimmage portion as the team’s right guard, which could possibly put him in position to get some playing time in 2018 depending on how J.R. Sweezy recovers.

We’ll be right back at it again on Saturday for Day 2 of the Bucs Rookie Mini-Camp with more coverage on Twitter and on

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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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3 years ago

Thanks for the info and videos.

3 years ago

question of the day is the great J.R. sneezy hurt again ??? I think I saw him bent over to pick up a check??? Cut his arse!!!

Go Bucs !!!

Ken Grant
3 years ago

Love how Davis gets his shoulder into Watson. The old lean look(Brian Kelly was tremendous at it) that had been replaced with watch and chase under Smitty so glad to see it make a comeback. Let’s get in close and put a body on these receivers.

Watson looks sharp. Big, fast, precise, athletic. Imagine he is long gone by the 5th if he was from a power-5 team. We may have a steal on our hands.

3 years ago

Love seeing Buck get on Vea. No better dude to learn from. Get it right rook!

3 years ago

I know I’m going to be called out for being too negative, but looking at PR’s twitter feed, and seeing MJ Stewart get burned deep by a try out player, and seeing how slow he is… Worries me to no end.

3 years ago

I know it’s kind of late, but I have a question. We all pretty much know the draftees are going to at least make the 90 man roster, and I love hearing how they are doing even though it’s the first day, but can you please include more info on the priority UFA’s and the tryout players?? Curious to hear how some of them looked, maybe even more so than the drafted guys. We will have all of training camp to hear about them. How did the 2 tryout RB’s look? How did E Phillips and the other WR look?… Read more »

3 years ago

Makski, I agree. I especially want to hear about the undrafted DEs and the top undrafted Safety that may have a shot at making this team along with the Tackle from Texas. I loved how well Watson and Davis both looked. I don’t think Stewart was picked for anything other than slot CB and he looked good in his clip with Watson. In the slot he doesn’t need burner speed. When last year starters come back I am interested to see how much improvement Smith can show. He has very good speed and we could use him as a backup… Read more »