SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL:
FAB 1. SEFERIAN-JENKINS TO BE BUCS’ MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Austin Seferian-Jenkins has the chance to be a real weapon in Tampa Bay’s offense. Dirk Koetter’s offense prominently features the tight end.
Seferian-Jenkins has the chance to be Jameis Winston’s go-to guy on offense. One of Winston’s favorite target at Florida State over the past two years was tight end Nick O’Leary, who caught 81 passes for 1,157 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The big, 6-foot-6, 260-pound athlete has the chance to be Tampa Bay’s Most Improved Player on offense this year. He only played in nine games last year due to injuries.
Seferian-Jenkins has the chance to be great.
“I tell you, if Austin is healthy, he reminds me … I coached Tony Gonzalez at the end of his career,” Koetter said. “Our tight ends coach, Jon Embree, had Tony in Kansas City. Austin’s talented. He can’t have little nicks – now back surgery, that’s not a nick, but soft-tissue injuries. If Austin can stay healthy we have very high expectations, and so does he.”
Seferian-Jenkins hauled in 21 catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie last year. Behind the scenes, the Bucs front office was fuming over the play-calling of fill-in offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, having spent a second-round pick on a big, mobile tight end with great receiving ability and not having him featured in the passing game.
Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Seferian-Jenkins missed a total of seven games due to an ankle injury and a back injury that caused him to go on injured reserve after the Chicago game.
“I’m 22 years old now,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “Last year I was 21. I was just coming in to play in the NFL; I had never played against NFL-caliber players. I’ve played against them for a year now, so I’m feeling a lot more comfortable. It was definitely a learning process last year in understanding how to take care of your body, how to do a lot of different things, how to pick up an offense and those little nuances of it, technique and whatnot.
“Now, if I do make a mistake, or when I make a mistake, I can come back and make the right corrections. Not next practice, but next rep, you know what I’m saying? That’s part about being a pro and understanding how to develop, not just within the next practice, but within that practice, taking coaching and (applying) it to the next play.”
Seferian-Jenkins had three catches for 26 yards against Minnesota, including his first touchdown, but went from the hero to the goat in a 19-13 loss as Vikings rookie linebacker Anthony Barr stripped the tight end of the ball and raced into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown on the first play of overtime.
Two weeks later against Atlanta, Seferian-Jenkins had a season-high five receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown, but drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for standing on the ball like Captain Morgan after he scored. The better field position the Falcons got on the ensuing kickoff aided them in scoring a touchdown on the next series to put the game out of reach.
“Losing like the way we lost is the toughest part about it, and you can’t be out there and you’re not yourself (due to injuries),” Seferian-Jenkins said. “You’re not the player you know you are. It’s frustrating going out there knowing you’re not the player you are at that point. I’m healthy. I feel back to myself. I feel good. I’m excited.”
Seferian-Jenkins only had two games where he caught four passes or more. That will change dramatically this season in Koetter’s offense if Seferian-Jenkins can remain healthy.
“I came into an offense in college where the tight end was really important,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “The tight end is going to be important; we have to make our plays, though. I don’t care how important a tight end is in the offense, you have to make your plays. When we have the opportunity to make plays as a group, we need to make them. So I’m excited about the opportunity we have and I’m relishing it and I’m enjoying it.”
Because Koetter himself has drawn the comparisons between Gonzalez and Seferian-Jenkins, which is a clear indication that he will feature him the way he featured Gonzalez in Atlanta from 2011-13. Gonzalez averaged 85 receptions for 888 yards and eight touchdowns per season with the Falcons – even from age 36 to 38.
Seferian-Jenkins may not have 85 catches this year, but he could easily double or triple the number of receptions he had from a year ago. Sixty-three catches is not out of the question for the Washington product.
Ex-Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez – Photo by: Getty Images
“His athleticism is similar to Tony Gonzalez,” Embree said. “Austin moves well. He’s just not as fluid as Jordan Cameron was when I had Jordan in Cleveland. But Austin has real good athleticism for his size. He’s a big man that can move.”
Now he needs to learn how to move defensive ends. While Seferian-Jenkins was drafted for his receiving ability, Embree wants him to become more of a complete player this year, and that means helping out in the run game as an edge blocker.
“The area of biggest improvement is probably run blocking,” Embree said. “He’s getting closer. He can be a dominant run blocker once he gets his technique down because of his size, he’s got good strength and active feet. That’s where I’ve seen the most improvement. That’s probably a combination of him being healthy, too.”
To the more casual observer, where Seferian-Jenkins has improved is getting open. He has become a frequent visitor to the end zone in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, especially when Winston is under center. Seferian-Jenkins’ long arms allow him to have a huge catch radius.
“I think Winston has done a good job all camp getting the ball where guys have a chance to make plays – not just Austin, but everybody,” Embree said. “That’s about ninety percent of it, just having a chance at it. So, he’s done a good job of keeping his eyes up to. If you’re looking at the ground you aren’t going to track the ball until it’s too late. It’s been a combination of that and just being with Jameis and working with Jameis to get that chemistry going.”
“We work together, we work hard, and Jameis is a great quarterback and he puts the ball where it needs to be and we just continue to build on it,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “You know great quarterbacks like to find their tight ends. You’ll find a common theme that a lot of great quarterbacks do that.
“Jameis is one of my good friends – my best friend on the team. We’ve just been playing ball out here, man. It isn’t even about chemistry, we’ve just been playing ball. Pitch and catch, you know?”
Fully healthy, Seferian-Jenkins is now playing in a tight end-friendly offense and building rapport with a quarterback that is used to throwing to the tight end. The Bucs are expecting Seferian-Jenkins to have a breakout season in 2015 and start to follow in the footsteps of Gonzalez, a future Hall of Famer.
“If he decides he wants to, he could be an elite tight end in this league,” Embree said. “It’s going to be up to him whether or not he wants to put in the work that is necessary consistently every day. It’s hard. It’s hard to do it. I was fortunate with Tony Gonzalez. He was a guy that had an unbelievable work ethic and was a guy that worked with a purpose.
“Until you do that and that becomes part of your DNA, it’s hard to say what you can become. There are a lot of guys that had potential that are going to be watching the Buccaneers on opening day on their couch. It’s just whether or not it’s something he decides he really wants to be. If it is, then he can be elite like Tony was.”
FAB 2. SIDBURY GETTING NOTICED AT DEFENSIVE END
Coming into Tampa Bay’s 2015 training camp, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury was an afterthought – even at an unheralded position. Newcomer George Johnson, who had six sacks last year in Detroit, was the team’s starting left end, while Jacquies Smith, who enjoyed a breakout season last year with 6.5 sacks, would start on the right side.
Bucs DE Lawrence Sidbury – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Behind them were Larry English, a former first-round pick of San Diego in 2009, and T.J. Fatinikun, a fast, undersized pass rusher, and Will Gholston, the Bucs’ fourth-round pick in 2013. Sidbury, a former fourth-round pick of Atlanta in 2009, collected five sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble return for a touchdown as a reserve with the Falcons through 2012. Sidbury’s first sack came against former Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb.
But Atlanta opted not to re-sign him, and Sidbury landed with the Colts in 2013 before a shoulder injury in the preseason forced him to go on injured reserve. Sidbury spent last season in training camp with the Houston Texans, but was released on August 25 before signing with Tampa Bay late in the year for depth.
On his fourth team in three years, the 6-foot-3, 269-pound Sidbury is fighting for his NFL life and made a big-time splash in Minnesota with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a tackle on defense.
“He played really hard,” Bucs defensive line coach Joe Cullen said. “You noticed him on film. He had a couple of good rushes. He just has to finish better. He had a couple of quarterback hits. He got the ball out and he made a lot of plays. He played both sides and really showed up and gave us a boost there.”
With Fatinikun sidelined due to a leg injury against the Vikings, Sidbury got extra reps and took advantage of them by playing virtually every snap of the second and third quarters, in addition to some reps at the end of the first quarter and the start of the fourth quarter.
“You just have to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you,” Sidbury said. “In the game of football, things come up. When your number is called you have to go. I just went out there, got a good amount of snaps, and just did what I knew I was able to do. I did what I’ve been working on, what the coaches have been coaching me on, and what was expected of me.”
Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith preaches getting takeaways on defense and was pleased with three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries at Minnesota.
“It’s something that we stress every day,” Sidbury said. “Coach Smith puts a slide up about the winning percentage of teams who force one, two, or three turnovers. Even though we didn’t get the victory today it’s like a 96.5 percent chance of victory with three turnovers. It’s something we stress every day. Every day we’re pursuing the ball and working on the getting the ball out. It’s just a mentality that we’re developing as a defense.
“As you know you’re out here at practice. We talk about it in every team meeting. You could see it out here in practice – guys try to get the football out every play, running down field and pursuing the football. It’s something that we focus on as a team and something that we want to keep getting better at because it changes games.”
Sidbury’s takeaways at Minnesota can also change his career. If he can produce more turnovers and a couple of sacks in the three remaining preseason games, Sidbury could pull a training camp surprise and beat out English, Fatinikun or Gholston for a spot on the 53-man roster spot.
“He is definitely an active player,” English said. “He plays hard. That’s one thing about Sid, he plays hard every snap. To be in the league this long and still working hard, still moving around well, and still having love for the game tells a lot about him and his character. He’s definitely a good veteran player.”
Bucs DE Lawrence Sidbury – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Although Sidbury, an edge rusher blessed with 4.6 speed, isn’t a household name to many, he has a big fan in Bucs rookie free agent defensive end Ryan Delaire.
“Sid is a great guy,” Delaire said. “He’s a great veteran that I look up to. He actually played in the same conference as me in college. He went to Richmond and I went to Towson. I always looked up to him. He was a small school guy that I studied and he basically helped me prepare for some games.”
Sidbury got noticed on Saturday and had a great week of practice leading into the Monday night contest against Cincinnati. With Fatinikun still out due to his leg injury, a more confident Sidbury is soaking up the reps and continuing to improve.
“I think my fire has been the same,” Sidbury said. “You’ve got to have that mentality. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Every day there is something to work on and something to improve on. I made some mistakes in the game and I want to correct them. I almost had a sack or two. I’ve got to get home. It’s just a building process. Every week is a building process. You just want to put your best foot forward every time you’re on the field, whether its practice or a game.”
The Bucs are anxious to see what Sidbury can do for an encore this week against the Bengals.
FAB 3. LYONS IS AN EMERGING TALENT AT DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Tampa Bay’s defensive tackle position is among the strongest of any team in the NFL. Led by three-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy, the unit also boasts a pair of Super Bowl champions in former Seattle Seahawks Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel, in addition to interior pass rusher Henry Melton, who was a Pro Bowler a few years ago in Chicago.
Reserve nose tackle Akeem Spence, who is out for a few months as he recovers from back surgery, is certainly no slouch, either. The addition of Melton in the offseason and McDaniel during training camp pretty much solidified this four-deep unit. If Spence were healthy he would have a hard time making the 53-man roster.
Bucs DT Cash Lyons – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
But the position is even deeper than that, and I’m not talking about defensive end Will Gholston, who moonlights as an interior pass rusher, or Da’Quan Bowers, who was re-signed for training camp due to Spence’s injury. An unheralded rookie by the name of Caushaud Lyons – known as “Cash” by coaches and teammates – has made a strong first impression.
Lyons, an undrafted free agent from Tusculum, which is a small Division II college in Tennessee, posted 89 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a senior, and finished his Pioneers career with 13 career sacks.
“Caushaud Lyons is a late comer after only playing one year of high school football, but he’s a big, athletic guy,” Bucs director of college scouting Mike Biehl said. “Our scouts were definitely targeting him and he was considered in the later rounds.”
After playing defensive end and defensive tackle at 6-foot-4, 289 pounds, Lyons has been playing both defensive tackle positions in Tampa Bay.
“I was happy to get him,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in early May. “He can play some nose and he can play some three-technique. It will be interesting with him and Quayshawne Buckley. We like Akeem Spence, but it’s going to be interesting.”
Lyons is a very good athlete, but raw. Yet he has flashed more potential than Buckley thus far and had an impressive debut in Minnesota with a de-cleating hit on a Vikings running back. Lyons nearly had two sacks, beating the guard quickly off the ball, only to see the quarterback sidestep the rookie defensive tackle twice.
“He did a great job in the game setting up his moves and using his hands, but it’s the little things he has to work on,” Bucs defensive line coach Joe Cullen said. “Finishing and driving to the quarterback. He had two sack opportunities – he and Jamal Young – but I saw some real good things from him playing in his first pro game.”
Lyons was used to playing in front of thousands of fans at Tusculum, but not the tens of thousands of fans that came to see Minnesota take on Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
“It was a little nerve-racking at first, but I got over the jitters and just went back to what Coach Cullen taught me,” Lyons said. “As a D-Line we just got off the ball and tried to make plays. It motivates me to go out there next game and give it my all and just work on my finish. That’s the most important thing – finishing at the quarterback.”
Cullen loved Lyons’ tackle at Minnesota, which came from behind the running back while he was in pursuit. Lyons loved it, too.
“Oh, that was definitely a big hit,” Lyons said. “I was just hustling, running to the ball, and redirecting. That’s a line drill that Coach Cullen gets us to do every day and it really helped me with that play.”
It may have been the biggest hit of the game and a reflection of just how powerful the Georgia native is. Lyons is strong, evidenced by a 325-pound clean, which was the best among his teammates at Tusculum, in addition to a 600-pound squat and a 475-pound bench press.
Lyons is also an athletic freak too, running 4.87 in the 40-yard dash, broad-jumping 10 feet and posting a 30.5-inch vertical leap.
Bucs DT Cash Lyons – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“Cash is really outstanding to me,” said fellow undrafted rookie free agent defensive lineman Ryan Delaire. “Honestly, he is a great defensive tackle, and probably one of the most athletic D-tackles I’ve ever played with.”
Veteran defensive end Larry English has been impressed with Lyons’ work ethic and his performance against the Vikings.
“Cash made a couple flashes in the game when he got in there for sure,” English said. “One thing about Cash is that ever since he came in the spring, he’s improved every day and come out with the right attitude. He’s definitely got a high ceiling if he keeps working the way that he is. It’s surprising how far he’s come.”
Lyons hopes to be the surprise of Tampa Bay’s defensive line group and cash in a roster spot, but with the surplus of quality defensive tackles will make that difficult, especially with the recent addition of McDaniel. Cash is definitely a candidate for the practice squad, though, if he keeps performing like he has in training camp.
“I just have to be precise with my move and know what I want to do and have a plan,” Lyons said. “Coach Cullen goes over it all the time – have a plan and know what you want to do.”
I want you to keep an eye on number 68. The nimble yet powerful Lyons is fun to watch.
FAB 4. SR’s BUCS-VIKINGS GAME OBSERVATIONS
Aside from noticing the play of Tampa Bay defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and rookie defensive tackle Caushaud Lyons, here are some other observations from last Saturday’s preseason opener at Minnesota that can help you gain some insight into the Buccaneers.
Bucs KR Kaelin Clay – Photo by: Getty Images
• Veteran running back Bobby Rainey may end up with the return specialist job of rookies Kaelin Clay, Donteea Dye and Rannell Hall don’t step up, and there’s more about Rainey to like. The Bucs coaches really like Rainey because he does the little things right. He made the tackle on Minnesota DB Antone Exum at the Tampa Bay 23 on Jameis Winston’s interception. Rainey also blocked linebacker Brandon Watts in the end zone to allow Winston to dive in for a touchdown. He had some hard runs and led the Bucs with 20 yards rushing and a 4.0 rushing average against the Vikings. The only thing I didn’t like about Rainey’s game on Saturday was the lack of urgency on his screen pass, as he got tackled from behind by a defensive tackle while Rainey was trying to set up his blocks downfield.
• Kadeem Edwards looks lost a bit in pass protection, which shows the lack of credible depth the Bucs have at guard. Edwards, who replaced Logan Mankins at left guard in the first quarter, came off his man too early on Winston’s 40-yard pass to Vincent Jackson and allowed Winston to be hit by a stunting offensive tackle. He didn’t draw any holding penalties in the game, which was good, and he seems to do better as a run blocker. Edwards is at his best getting out in front of screen passes and had an opportunity to do that against the Vikings.
• After Garrett Gilkey had two errant snaps to Winston he was replaced by Jeremiah Warren, whose snaps were flawless. Warren did miss a middle linebacker blitz by Eric Kendricks, who sacked third-string QB Seth Lobato, but he did a nice job getting out in front on Rainey’s screen pass. I don’t know why the Bucs seem hell-bent on making a center out of a guy like Gilkey, who has never done it before the ill-fated Bengals game last year, and why Warren, who played center in college, isn’t the backup to Evan Smith. Warren’s not a bad player at all.
• There were some things to like from the defensive tackle position where Lyons nearly had two sacks in the second half, but the best was a nice TT (tackle-tackle) stunt where Clinton McDonald called for a twist where he went outside at the snap and allowed Henry Melton to loop around inside and sack backup quarterback Sean Hill. Reserve defensive lineman Will Gholston also had a fine game from the tackle spot, recording four tackles and forcing a fumble.
• Rookie guard Ali Marpet does such a great job of getting to the second level in the run game. He nearly gave up a sack for a safety on an end-tackle stunt on third-and-16 with just over six minutes left in the second quarter. While he needs work in pass protection, Marpet stood out in run blocking and did a solid job of shielding off the defensive tackle on Winston’s touchdown run. The Bucs also pulled Marpet, who had a great trap block on linebacker Brian Peters, on Mike James’ 3-yard touchdown.
Bucs MLB Kwon Alexander – Photo by: Getty Images
• The two Bucs linebackers that really stood out against Minnesota were backup middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who looked like Lavonte David playing middle linebacker with his sideline-to-sideline speed, and third-string weakside linebacker Khaseem Greene. Alexander made some mistakes but plays full speed and hustles back to make the play. He almost recovered fumble in the end zone when Greene knocked the ball loose at the 1-yard line to save a touchdown. Greene, who also excels on special teams, led Tampa Bay with five tackles against Minnesota.
• I’m not terribly impressed with tight end Brandon Myers – especially his lack of foot speed. Cameron Brate is faster and had a great down block on the defensive end on James’ touchdown run along with a nice block from left tackle Kevin Pamphile. Brate had a nice, 16-yard catch in the fourth quarter. And how about Luke Stocker’s 18-yard, tackle-breaking romp down the sidelines on Winston’s touchdown drive? Stocker looked quite nimble on the play. The three tight ends I would keep on the 53-man roster would be Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Stocker and Brate.
• I’m not a fan of nickel corners Leonard Johnson and Isaiah Frey, each of whom gave up big pass plays on Minnesota. They both combined for one interception last year from the nickel, and that’s a reason why Sterling Moore was moved from cornerback inside to nickel this week. I think he’s more of a playmaker and the move was long overdue.
• Running back Mike James just isn’t fast enough or quick enough to be a good fit in Dirk Koetter’s offense. James averaged 1.9 yards per carry last year and averaged 1.4 yards per carry at Minnesota (10 yards on seven carries) and one touchdown. The Bucs want a big, power back and it’s likely between James and undrafted free agent Dominique Brown, who wasn’t impressive, either (11 yards on three carries, two catches for zero yards).
• Undrafted free agent defensive end Jamal Young didn’t make a tackle on Saturday, but he ran around like the Energizer Bunny. Young, a former track star, is fast and he hustles. It will be fun to watch him the rest of the preseason. Young is a candidate for the practice squad.
• The weirdest stat of the night was Tampa Bay’s defense allowing Minnesota’s quarterbacks to complete 81.8 percent of their passes, yet hold the Vikings to just 20 percent (2-of-10) on third down conversions.
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• PewterReport.com has been all over the rapid ascent of rookie middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who unseated high-profile free agent addition Bruce Carter as a starter after just two weeks of training camp and one preseason game. Alexander was drafted to compete with Danny Lansanah for the starting strongside linebacker spot, but with Lansanah having a dominant offseason by picking off passes on nearly a daily basis, the coaches started cross-training Alexander at middle linebacker during the OTAs and the move became permanent for training camp. Now Carter will fight with Lansanah for the right to start – but at the Sam linebacker spot.
I have talked about Alexander extensively this offseason in previous SR’s Fab 5 columns, and to his credit, the rookie has lived up to the hype.
“Keep an eye on Alexander, who is generating a lot of buzz at One Buccaneer Place and is putting himself right in the mix for the starting strongside linebacker spot with veteran Danny Lansanah.” – SR’s Fab 5 – May 15, 2015
“LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander, the team’s fourth-round pick, is the real sleeper in the Bucs’ 2015 draft class.” – SR’s Fab 5 – May 22, 2015
“There’s going to be a real good training camp battle this August between Lansanah and Alexander, whose future may actually be at middle linebacker.” – SR’s Fab 5 – July 31, 2015
Because of the importance of the middle linebacker position in the Tampa 2 defense – think Hardy Nickerson and Shelton Quarles – Alexander could be the key to the ascension of the Buccaneers defense this year. This guy is exciting to watch and seems destined for greatness.
• I had the chance to interview good friend and new Fox NFL analyst Charles Davis, who got a promotion this offseason after starring as Fox’s color analyst for major college football games over the last couple of years, at One Buccaneer Place during training camp. Davis, who also does an amazing job as a draft analyst on NFL Network, believes the Bucs can be a surprise team in 2015 – thanks to the addition of first overall draft pick Jameis Winston.
“Remember last year that Tampa Bay was a pretty trendy pick to make the playoffs,” Davis said. “‘Hey, look out for Tampa.’ A lot of people picked Tampa to win the division. So when the wheels came off and it didn’t go as well people are going the opposite way. ‘Oh, they went 2-14 so let’s bury them.’ I’ve seen many times teams make leaps. Getting Jameis Winston at quarterback totally changes the complexion of the franchise. He has come in and assumed that role. This kid loves being in the middle of it all. He loves being ‘that guy.’ He has been prepped for this since he was a little kid.”
Davis said the skill positions are loaded for Winston, and that will help his transition to the NFL during his rookie season.
“Doug Martin looks the best he’s looked since his rookie year,” Davis said. “Doug looks lighter, sleeker, and he’s cutting better. He looks like his old self, which is great news. How about the receiving corps? Go out wide with Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins at tight end and they are building some depth around there. “I hear Robert Herron is doing a nice job as a slot guy. Kenny Bell, a Nebraska guy and one of my favorite guys from last year in college football can catch and block. They have playmakers. The offensive line is going to be the key for everything as usual with Ali Marpet at guard and Donovan Smith at offensive tackle. They were drafted for a reason, but how fast will they come along? I hear they are coming along pretty well.”
• Davis called the Big Ten Championship between Wisconsin and Nebraska when Bell delivered a crushing block on a Cornhuskers touchdown. Davis was already a big fan of Bell’s, but that block to his admiration to a new level.
“That was the best block I’ve ever seen in a game I’ve called,” Davis said. “Nowadays you get penalized for that, but boy, it was something.”
• I know the Bucs will be pushing rookie left tackle Donovan Smith, the team’s second-round pick to start, but I think right now it’s neck and neck with second-year tackle Kevin Pamphile. The 330-pound Smith is more powerful, but Pamphile is a bit quicker and more agile.
One thing that concerns me is that Smith was beaten by Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen with a quick inside spin move for a sack on his first NFL play. The move caught Smith flat-footed, and I saw Smith get beaten with the exact same move in 1-on-1 pass rush drills twice on the same day during Tuesday’s practice.
Both George Johnson and unheralded rookie Jamal Young beat Smith with an inside spin move. You can bet Smith will be seeing plenty of the inside spin moves on a weekly basis until he proves that he can stop it.
• Many of you have been following the story of my friend and Sunlake High School junior linebacker Xavier Johnson this summer. X, as he is known by friends, family and teammates, suffered a traumatic brain injury in May that put him in a coma for a month. Still unable to speak and having difficulty moving the left side of his body, X has a long road back as he continues his rehab fresh from a stint at the Brooks Rehabilitation facility in Jacksonville.
X’s father is a pastor at the small Gathering Pointe Church, while his mother is an elementary school teacher. They lead a very modest life and are buried in medical bills that the insurance company isn’t picking up.
The Johnson family bleeds red for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and I have already received assurances from three class members of the Buccaneers and former Huskers – general manager Jason Licht, wide receiver Kenny Bell and linebacker Lavonte David, who is X’s favorite player – that they will pay a home visit to see X to encourage him during his rehab.
Brian Killingsworth, the chief marketing officer for the Bucs, approached me at training camp and said that the organization would like to have X and the Johnson family out to watch practice and meet the team when the time is right to help lift his spirits – another classy move by the Bucs.
I coach X’s 11-year old brother, Zephy, who is my three-technique defensive tackle, and with X’s father, Ross, with the South Pasco Predators Pee Wee football in the Pop Warner league. Our Jamboree is tomorrow and we’ll all be thinking of X. Zephy will certainly be playing hard for him. Our whole Predators team will.
• Yours truly will be representing PewterReport.com on MOR-TV’s Cincinnati vs. Tampa Bay Countdown To Kickoff pre-game show prior to the local Tampa Bay showing of the Bucs vs. Bengals game on Monday Night Football on MOR-TV. The Cincinnati vs. Tampa Bay Countdown To Kickoff airs at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be simulcast on MOR-TV’s affiliate station in Cincinnati, too. I’ll be previewing the keys for the Buccaneers having a successful season. Tune in to MOR-TV and watch at 7:00 p.m. on Monday.
• Football is here as the Buccaneers’ 2015 preseason home opener is on Monday Night Football against the Bengals. That means it’s tailgating time, and the number one destination for Big Green Eggs, Weber Grills and BBQ sauces, rubs and accessories is Just Grillin, which is located 15 minutes north of Raymond James Stadium at 11743 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.
Starting with the Bucs’ regular season games, Just Grillin will be sponsoring the Pewter Player on PewterReport.com, which is given to the Bucs’ MVP for that week’s game. They are giving away a $50 gift certificate each week to a lucky Bucs fan that retweets our Just Grillin Pewter Player story on Twitter in addition to following them on Twitter at @JustGrillin You can visit Just Grillin online at JustGrillinFlorida.com.
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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