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.
We Drafted Really Well This Year
By Kevin Minter as told to Scott Reynolds
The Dolphins are a strong team and a young team and they’re trying to figure it out. We are, too. We got some good work in this week. They can mess around and make some noise in their division this year. Don’t sleep on them. They have some strong talent on their team. Everybody wanted to practice, so no fights, which was good to see. Our guys didn’t want to test B.A. (Bruce Arians) about his no-fighting rule. We’re anxious to play them on Friday night in our house.
[Anthony] Nelson, one of our rookie outside linebackers, is down right now and those MCLs are tricky. I know from my experience it’s just a time thing and a pain tolerance thing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a doctor, but I know he’s trying his best to get back quickly. The coaches know that too, so it’ll happen when it happens.
There is only so much you can learn in the classroom, especially at linebacker. So much of it is experience. You don’t learn it until you see it. They are in the classroom and trying to figure it out, but Nelson is a smart kid. He was doing really well before he got hurt. Don’t be surprised if he hits the ground running when he returns.
That guy 45 (Devin White) is really coming on. It’s getting dangerous. If he can stay steady and keep learning, the sky is the limit for that kid. He’s really making some plays and showing up, showing off that speed.
He’s not the only one. Another rookie, (safety) Mike Edwards is a playmaker and a smart kid. He’s playing ball. You want that out of your safeties. It’s one thing to have the X’s and O’s down, but you’ve got to make plays, especially at the safety position on this team. If Mike stays steady he’ll be really good. We drafted really well this year – all those rookies are good. They just have to show up in games and keep improving.
In Coach [Todd] Bowles’ system we blitz everybody. Everybody gets a shot at the quarterback at some point, but especially the middle linebackers and the safeties. The safeties are going to have a great time. Look at some of the stuff we did with our safeties back in Arizona and the stats they put him. He’s going to be sending them all of the damn time.
Our safeties have really grasped the defense pretty quickly. I don’t remember our defense grasping the system this quickly back in Arizona. Coach Bowles changed up some of the verbiage and some of the more complex things we did in Arizona, but at the same time, some of the stuff that our safeties picked up in the spring – I’m impressed with the whole room in general.
As a rookie, Mike would make a nice play along the sideline when he first got here, and he would make a pick down the seam. The kid is looking good and he’s got a nose for the ball. I have confidence in that kid, though. I watched him at Kentucky. I’m always supporting my SEC guys. Can’t wait until he’s back on the field, too.
Having such a young secondary doesn’t necessarily put a lot of pressure on our front seven to get home with pressure. When your name is called and you’re rushing you have to get home – period. With them being young, you want to help them out as much as you can. It’s hard for a quarterback to throw the ball when he’s on his back.
In OTAs the young guys got a pretty good grasp of the defense, so regardless if we get home on our blitzes or not, I feel like they can hold up on the back end despite their youth. They are talented guys and they are a lot more savvy than some of the other rookies or second-year players I have been around.
Another rookie that is doing really well is the kicker Matt Gay. He can really kick that thing. He’s got a big leg. Some of the long kicks he’s been making during camp, man – it will be great if we can get those during the regular season. That would be great. This game is about inches and points. You can’t always get a touchdown, so we’re going to need him. I’ve won and lost games over missed field goals.
We haven’t had too much rookie singing yet. We don’t do any hazing, but we had a couple rookies sing in the team meeting room – Devin sang and it was real bad. We’ve been in and out so much that we haven’t had time to do them all yet, but we will. I’ll make sure they will. They’re all going to sing.
It’s great seeing Ronde Barber getting his due. Ronde was one of the best cornerbacks of all time. He pioneered the nickel cornerback position. He’s a stand-up guy. I’ve seen him around the facility and he’s always talking to the young DBs. He’s a legend in this league. It’s dope he’s getting in the Bucs Ring of Honor. He probably should have been in there a long time ago, but it’s well deserved. He had a tremendous career and now he’s doing his thing as an NFL commentator for Fox. He’s a great dude and he’s staying extraordinary.
Previous Minter’s Bucs Camp Diary Entries
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.