Though the Buccaneers will have one more day of Rookie Mini-Camp practice, that final practice on Sunday won’t be open to the media, so Friday and Saturday is what we have to work off of when it comes to evaluating how some of the new guys did.

New Bucs defensive line coach Brentson Buckner had a humorous exchange during Friday’s rookie mini-camp practice that gives some insight into his no-nonsense attitude. Tryout defensive tackle Nathan Bazata made a mistake on one of his reps and looked at Buckner and said, “My bad.”

That prompted an incredulous look from Buckner, who retorted, “It can’t be nothing but your bad! It’s not my bad!”

When another one of the tryout players waited until Buckner simulated the snap count instead of moving when the offensive lineman in front of him moved, Buckner gave his orders.

“If you ever see somebody move, you bowl them over,” Buckner said.

During Saturday’s practice, the education of Vita Vea continued where he was working on the first-round draft pick’s pad level and striking with violent hands. Buckner pulled no punches with the team’s top draft pick. After jumping offsides during the 11-on-11 portion of the rookie mini-camp, be yanked Vea from the field and pulled him over for an intense one-on-one session.

It’s clear that Vea won’t be a golden child and that he will rapidly improve with Buckner’s teaching.

Undrafted free agent offensive tackle Cole Boozer, who is 6-foot-5, 300 pounds is playing left tackle initially due to his athleticism. Boozer, a former tight end at Temple, who gained weight and moved to right tackle, is battling Leonard Wester and Brad Seaton for the swing tackle job in Tampa Bay, as Caleb Benenoch, who played some right tackle last year when Demar Dotson was injured, is expected to compete at right guard with J.R. Sweezy and rookie Alex Cappa.

As expected M.J. Stewart, one of Tampa Bay’s three second-round picks, is starting off cross-training at nickel cornerback in the slot and at right cornerback, too. It’s curious though that cornerback Carlton Davis, another second-round pick, is playing exclusively at left cornerback, which is where veteran Brent Grimes plays. Of course there is always the chance that Davis gets cross-trained at both left and right cornerback during the OTAs.

Davis is known as a physical player and showed it when he punched the ball out of the hands of an unsuspecting Ronald Jones in the 11-on-11 session, and then recovered the fumble. Davis, who Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said was probably the most consistent player in the rookie mini-camp, showed better than expected speed in keeping up with wide receiver Justin Watson stride for stride. Davis ran the 40-yard dash in the low 4.5s, while Watson’s time was in the low 4.4s.

What was impressive about Watson was seeing how well he tracked the deep ball and made some crazy adjustments to the ball and a couple over the shoulder catches. Watson also ran really crisp, precise routes, which was exactly what we saw from his Penn tape. He’s as good as advertised in that department.

We’ve heard Tampa Bay veterans say that “communication” and “being on the same page” were issues in last year’s struggles on defense. The Bucs veterans are spending classroom time going up to the board and stating not only their assignments are on a particular play, but also what the other players’ assignments are so that they have a better understanding of the concepts.

An emphasis on improved communication is also happening at rookie mini-camp where not just the middle linebacker is making the strong side calls, but also all 10 other defenders, too. We expect to see a much more vocal Bucs defense on the field during OTAs and mini-camp and on through training camp, too.

Carlton Davis continued to show why the Bucs thought so highly of him and the Pewter Report staff felt like he was the best performer in the two days of rookie mini-camp that the media was allowed to view. Davis continued to line up on the left side on Saturday and we asked him about that following practice.

“Well, to be honest with you, I can’t really tell you how the depth chart works. It’s just getting reps,” Davis said. “I am not sure if there is any order in that, but we are all just getting reps and just get it the best way we can with the guys that we have in the room. So, to be honest, I don’t know where I’m at on the depth chart or what side I will be playing on. We are just getting reps. I can play on any side.”

Head coach Dirk Koetter thought Davis had a really Good Friday practice after reviewing the tape prior to Saturday.

“After looking at the tape last night, Carlton probably had one of the best days on defense of anybody out there yesterday. He did a good job. We already knew he was a good player in press coverage, but we wanted to see him play some off coverage as well. He did a really good job. His form tackling-for football on air-was good. We were fired up about the way he played yesterday.”

9 COMMENTS

    • It was definitely one of the more curious decisions by the Bucs to reach for Stewart in the 2nd round. 5′ 11 corners who run in the mid 4.5’s aren’t usually afforded premium draft slots. CDavis who is 2 inches taller ran in the 4.4’s at his pro day while Stewart didn’t run at all. So it’s really odd to see the Bucs take Stewart ahead of him.

      The best I can tell is that the Senior Bowl and Stewart’s penchant for being a high effort guy with good technique in practice vaulted him up Licht’s board. Hopefully that translates more than I expect it would.

  1. Hey Scott, I love the info and thanks for all the hard work. This piece is again mostly about the drafted players. Is there any way you guys could give us more info on some of the tryout players? Are there any tryout players that you guys think might have a chance for the 90 man unit. Either of the RB’s, either of the WR’s, any of the OL, DL, LB’s Thanks

  2. I’m not shocked he’s taking reps on Grime’s side, the Bucs are looking for the 35 yr olds replacement. I can see the Bucs also saving Grimes body for the regular season by not having him practice as much. Davis will start on the left side next season, the right side is looking for a starter.

  3. This defense will improve no matter what with Buckner and the infusion of talent, there is no doubt. But if Mike Smith continues to run his garbage off coverage, especially when we drafted physical corners, this defense will again be doomed to mediocrity. Coach up your players, play to their strengths, and don’t be so stubborn!!!