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.
With B.A. It’s Super Bowl Or Bust
By Kevin Minter as told to Scott Reynolds
Training camp is finally here. My summer was fun, as I moved back to Atlanta. I normally train in Arizona, but I spent my offseason in Atlanta this year where I bought a house. I did a couple of family reunions in Destin, Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but other than that, I just did a lot of training.
I’ve been staying focused on the upcoming season. This is my first training camp in Tampa. Even though it’s not my first rodeo with B.A. (Bruce Arians), I am curious to see how this heat is going to affect me. It should be an interesting camp to say the least.
I started out in Todd Bowles defense my rookie year in Arizona in 2013 and then I was in camp with him in New York with the Jets last summer. For the most part, his defense has remained the same. It’s more similar to what he ran with the Jets because we have the personnel that are more similar to what the Jets had rather than the Cardinals. But the foundation that was laid in Arizona is pretty much the same as it is here now.
I picked up the defense pretty easily during the OTAs. My experience in this scheme gives me an advantage and it should help, but it’s all about me making plays on the field and earning my spot on the team. It’s one thing to be in the defense as long as I have – over four years – but B.A. likes results. He likes playmakers. He wants dawgs on his team. Hopefully I did enough this offseason and hopefully I’ll do enough this training camp to turn some heads and keep my job.
In order for me to make the team this year I need to make my plays at linebacker and show up on special teams, which I’m willing to do in any capacity. Whatever the team needs me to do I’m ready to do it. I’m in my seventh year in this league. It’s about working smarter – not harder.
It’s a very talented room from top to bottom. Obviously with Lavonte [David] being who he is, and then with Devin [White] coming in as a rookie – he’s done nothing but impress since the first day he’s been out here. I’m pretty sure that in training camp Devin is going to hit the ground running. Ever since his freshman year at LSU he’s been hitting me up on my phone, hitting up other guys that went to our school just to gain some knowledge. The kid is a sponge. I saw him get better and better. It was the same way in OTAs. I really think he’s going to make a splash this year.
I saw that Devin lost his horse this week. That’s sad news. I reached out to him this week, but the rookies have been locked down with camp starting early for them. Hopefully he’s doing okay. I can sympathize with him because I’m kind of a country guy, too. Those horses – they do mean a lot. I can remember how he was always talking about Daisy Mae. I know that was his baby. That sucks. He’ll have plenty of distractions to keep his mind off her when camp starts.
You always want your LSU guys to succeed, but with Devin reaching out to me early in his career and seeing what a good kid he is, you just want to help a guy like that. You want to help your rookies out as a veteran, but it’s a little bit different when it’s such a genuine guy like that who comes from your alma mater. He knows I have his back and I hope he can reach his potential in this league. I promise you, he has a very high ceiling.
I came to the Bucs midway through last season and I saw us come out fighting in every game last year, but it was just maybe guys out of place defense or a lack of focus that hurt us. With B.A. coming in, accountability is huge for him, and we’re more focused this year.
You have to be more focused or B.A. will replace you. He has no problem getting other guys in there to replace you. He loves his players, but at the same time, this man wants to win a championship. He wants to win a Super Bowl. With B.A. it’s Super Bowl or bust, and it’s been that way every season since I’ve started with him in 2013. He wants the Lombardi Trophy. If you are going to be focused and a part of helping him hoist that trophy up at the end of the season, then you’re a part of the team. If not – see you later. That’s how B.A. has always been.
B.A. hasn’t changed much since 2013. He might not yell as much – probably for health reasons – but he’s the same dude. He’s the same genuine guy who loves his players. But he doesn’t tolerate nonsense. He wants to win games and he talks about it all the time – it’s about winning championships, not just games in the regular season.
B.A. knows his side of the ball, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was surprised that he gave up the play-calling duties this year. The offense is his baby. But it also speaks volumes about Byron Leftwich and how he’s developed as a coordinator. To make that transition speaks volumes. I could tell you some stories from Arizona where B.A. would yell at us on defense: “Do not touch the receivers – I need to see this play develop!” Or “Do not hit David Johnson on this play!”
The pads come on this weekend, and we were hitting during training camp in Arizona. It was on par with what you’d see in college. It’s that intense. It wasn’t tackling to the point where we were taking guys to the ground, but that 9-on-7 run period – you had to strap up and make sure you had your mouthpiece in your mouth.
It was the same thing with some of the team periods during 11-on-11. You couldn’t go into your hole tip-toeing – otherwise it’s going to hurt. Will it be the same here? I don’t know yet. It’s different personnel and it’s kind of a different atmosphere in the league right now with teams not doing crazy training camps anymore. We shall see this weekend.
Bucs fans, be excited – and don’t sleep on us. This is going to be one of those years – get your popcorn ready. Bruce is here.
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.