The Bucs Training Camp Diaries are an annual training camp feature on PewterReport.com and we are fortunate to have two really good players to profile in veteran linebacker Kevin Minter, who will offer up his perspective of Todd Bowles’ defense, and wide receiver Scotty Miller, the Bucs’ sixth-round pick, who will take PewterReport.com readers through the trials and tribulations of rookie life in Bruce Arians’ first training camp in Tampa Bay. Look for Miller’s and Minter’s Bucs Training Camp Diaries twice a week throughout training camp and the preseason.
Minter is in a unique position because no other Buccaneers defender knows more about Bowles’ scheme than he does, arriving in Arizona as a second-round pick out of LSU in 2013, which was the first year that Arians and Bowles coached the Cardinals. In addition to his inside linebacker duties, Minter will serve as a coach on the field, preparing Devin White, Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, to start and flourish as a rookie while Minter battles for the backup middle linebacker role behind him.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht signed Minter last year after Kwon Alexander went down with a knee injury, and Minter made an instant impact on special teams and recorded a sack against Carolina’s Cam Newton before a calf injury forced him to the injured reserve list. Minter will be challenged by Deone Bucannon, Devante Bond, Jack Cichy and newcomers Corey Nelson and Emmanuel Smith for one of the two reserve inside linebacker roles. The 28-year old Minter will have to prove he can once again cover kicks and punts, and make some splash plays on defense in the preseason to solidify a roster spot in 2019.
Jameis Is On The Edge Of Being Great
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By Kevin Minter as told to Scott Reynolds
We finally had a day off on Wednesday and I did a whole lot of sleeping and a whole lot of nothing. I went to sleep that night and didn’t wake up until my eyes opened. I turned the alarm off. Back to work this week.
I feel like Jameis [Winston] is on the edge of being great, and he’s also getting better every day. (Bruce Arians) B.A.’s offense is not easy to learn. Some of the passes he’s making and the confidence he’s gaining – it’s getting pretty scary. Don’t be surprised if No. 3 is really putting up some numbers this year at the start of the season. You’ve got to watch out for No. 3. He’s learning a new offense, and B.A. and Tom Moore have been around a lot of quarterbacks, and if anyone is going to teach him it’s going to be them.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Blaine Gabbert is looking good, too. Sometimes the light comes on later for guys, especially at the quarterback position. There are so many intangibles about that position. I like Blaine. He’s a ballplayer, if that makes sense. He scrambles around, and he looks for guys to get open. He might not make the smartest throws at times, but it tends to work out. He rolls the dice, and the dude has been making plays. He’s looking like the old Blaine Gabbert from Mizzou.
[Friday night] during 11-on-11’s I got robbed of a forced fumble. I hit Dare [Ogunbowale] and the ball came loose before he was down, but they didn’t give it to me. You know how B.A. is with his offense. That’s his baby. You’re not going to get that call in practice if you’re a defensive guy.
The defense stepped up at the end of practice because No. 3 had them rolling, especially in the red zone. O.J. Howard – that fool had four or five big catches, including two touchdowns. Devin White was right on him in coverage, too. That kid excites me. Jameis was tearing us up, but since the break we’ve been talking about getting better and shutting down the offense like we were at the beginning of camp.
We’ve got a couple of sleepers in camp on the defensive side of the ball. Led (defensive end Jeremiah Ledbetter) came with it on his mind this year in training camp – he’s trying to make this team. Honestly, he’s trying to get on first or second string. He’s not intimidated by anyone in front of him. He’s just trying to play ball. He’s definitely a camp sleeper.
Bucs ILB Kevin Minter and PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
Another camp sleeper is D’Cota Dixon. Have you seen some of the hits he’s been putting on? He’s also had some picks. I like the kid, too. He’s cerebral. You have to be cerebral to play safety. When you are talking to a safety out there on the field and he’s talking back, you love that.
We have such a talented inside linebacker room. I know [Jack] Cichy definitely has a chip on his shoulder after what happened to him last year. [Devante] Bond is still trying to prove himself, and Corey Nelson is trying to show out too. Bond has been playing MIKE linebacker mostly, but he was playing both MIKE and MO during the OTAs. The positions are interchangeable if you’ve been in them long enough, which I have. Bond has been working at MIKE and doing a lot of the calls and a lot of the checks, but there’s no telling what position he’ll be at when the season starts.
The difference between the MIKE and MO linebackers is reading different keys because you’re aligned in different gaps. Our MIKE is the communicator with all the checks – he’s our quarterback. MO does a lot of the echoing. MIKE is a lot more of a cerebral position than the MO. I’m playing MIKE along with Devin, Devante and Cichy, while Lavonte [David], Buck (Deone Bucannon), Nelson, and [Emmanuel] Smith are playing MO. I can play both, and I know that Buck can play both.
My guy Buck is a man on a mission this year. There is going to be some mean competition in camp, but regardless, no one on this linebacker squad shouldn’t be on a team – whether it’s this one or elsewhere. That’s how high the level of talent is in our room. Deone has been a jack-of-all-trades – it’s just up to Coach [Todd] Bowles to decide where to put him whether it’s at MO or at safety. It’s a great problem to have.
TE Antony Auclair and DB Deone Bucannon – Photo by: Mary Holt/PewterReport.com
Lavonte is such a stud. The dude in my eyes has been All-Pro nearly every year he’s been in the league. The stuff he pulls off and some of the stuff I’ve seen him do is impressive. Lavonte has always been in a whole different category. He’s special. It’s going to be cool to see how he adapts to this defense. I feel like this defense can really exploit a lot of the things that he can do well. I think Coach Bowles is really going to take care of his athleticism and playmaking ability. Man, we’ve got a lot of playmakers at linebacker on this team.
The next Minter’s Bucs Training Camp Diary entry will be published in a few days. Bucs fans and PewterReport.com readers are encouraged to leave their comments or questions for Miller below, and to follow him on social media.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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