There’s no debating that the Buccaneers’ 2014 season was a major disappointment. But as attention shifts to 2015, it should be noted that there are plenty of young promising players on the roster, especially on defense.
Bradley McDougald is one player in particular who has continued to progress since his first start in Week 12 against Cincinnati.
The second-year undrafted pro was called upon after the team’s bold decision to trade former first round pick Mark Barron at the deadline. And although it’s early, during his 14 games this season with five starts , McDougald looked like the better Tampa 2 safety.
Since coming to Tampa, he’s done everything he can to prove to Lovie Smith and company that they made the right move in signing him.
“Most definitely. From the start, you trade a first round pick here and then you look on the depth chart: you have Major Wright and you have an undrafted free agent guy who you knew nothing about,” McDougald said. “I know (Smith) was catching heat for that and it felt good to go out there and do something good for my coach.
“I’ve been trying to make plays ever since I’ve been playing. I think I started back in Chicago with the defense – I was playing special teams – but ever since then I’ve been trying to do something to stand out and let him know he made the right decision.”
During Weeks 15 and 16 against Carolina and Green Bay, McDougald showed his physicality, leading the team in tackles both weeks with 15 and 9, respectively.
On Sunday he showed his ability in coverage, going up against the likes of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills. The former Jay Hawk also recorded his first career interception with a one handed steal in the end zone during the Saints opening drive of the second half.
Following the game, McDougald spoke confidently about his team’s future. As for him personally, the 24-year old believes there are many more interceptions to come in his career, but he’ll remember this one forever.
“I think it was (Kenny Stills) – he gave me a double move and we’ve been practicing it all week,” he said. That’s a tip to the coaches, getting us prepared all week. We’ve been seeing that play and then once I saw it I looked back like they coached us to do. I found the ball and tried to make a play.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
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