FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots

• The Bucs waited until the final week of training camp to break out their new 3-4 defensive wrinkle. On Tuesday, the Bucs featured Clinton McDonald at nose tackle with Gerald McCoy and Will Gholston at defensive end and had Noah Spence and Adarius Glanton standing up as outside linebackers. Lavonte David and rookie Kendell Beckwith, who was subbing for an injured Kwon Alexander, were the inside linebackers.

Bucs DE Noah Spence - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“It was a little something new,” Spence said. “It’s still football. When you stand up you can see a little more, but at the end it’s still football with the same responsibilities. You have to keep them guessing and give them different looks. It’s a little easier for them if you keep giving them the same thing to prepare for all the time.”

Beckwith, who had an impressive week of practice to close out camp, has experience playing in a 3-4 scheme.

“My first year at LSU we played a 4-3,” Beckwith said. “The second year was a 4-2-5 – we played a lot of nickel. In my third year we went to the 3-4. That helps me when it comes to learning the defense. The only real difference is the assignment differences. Playing Mike is the same thing no matter what defense you’re in. You have to do a great job of communicating, getting everybody lined up and getting to the ball. You have to know your assignment, play fast and do your job.

“In the 3-4 you can be a two-gap linebacker. I’m not going to say which one I like more. I think they’re both good defenses. When we switch to a 3-4, I’ve been there before and it doesn’t look like any crazy thing to me. I’ve seen it.”

On Thursday, the last practice of camp, the Bucs had Sealver Siliga at nose tackle with Chris Baker and Clinton McDonald as the defensive ends. Spence and Beckwith were stand-up outside linebackers with David and Glanton in the middle.


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• The Cleveland Browns are giving second-round draft pick DeShone Kizer his first start at quarterback on Saturday night in Tampa Bay’s preseason home opener. Kizer has thrown for a touchdown, rushed for a touchdown and completed 61.5 percent of his passes in his first two exhibition games.

We’ll see how he fares against an improved Bucs defense that is filled with several pass rushers, including defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive ends Noah Spence and Robert Ayers, Jr. The Bucs defense recorded eight sacks in a 30-13 drubbing of the Browns in the third preseason game a year ago in Tampa Bay.

Cleveland’s offensive line has been bolstered this offseason though with the addition of right guard Kevin Zeitler, who plays opposite Joel Bitonio. Both guards have Pro Bowl potential and left tackle Joe Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowler, is still one of the best in the game. Sacking Kizer should prove to be more difficult than it was getting to Robert Griffin III last year.

As I said on the latest Pewter Nation Podcast, what I want to see from the Bucs defense is more splash plays – notably sacks and takeaways. The Bucs only have three sacks in the preseason and only one came from a starter – a blitz from linebacker Lavonte David. Tampa Bay’s starting defensive line has yet to record a sack in the preseason, although McCoy came close last week at Jacksonville. The Bucs lone takeaway was Vernon Hargreaves’ interception in the first quarter of the Cincinnati game.

• Tampa Bay rookie middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith has made an amazing recovery from a torn ACL just nine months ago during his senior season at LSU. Beckwith missed all of the offseason workouts since the draft, but was cleared for training camp and hasn’t looked back.

“I started feeling normal again – almost,” Beckwith said of his injury before surgery last November. “But I went in to get my surgery and then the next day I started my rehab. It’s almost been nine months. I don’t think about it. I’ve been knocked down. I fall awkward all the time. I make all kind of crazy cuts and moves, but I don’t think about it. That’s the last thing on my mind. I’m blessed.”

Beckwith said he did some “pre-hab” between injuring the knee and having surgery, which he believes helped speed up his rehab.

Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I was doing light squats – things to keep my quad firing,” Beckwith said. “I think it helped out a little bit, but after surgery, that quad goes, man. It’s like you’ve never worked out in your life. It just goes. Right after my surgery I went into rehab.”

Beckwith’s hard work paid off, as he has stayed healthy in training camp, which has had tremendous benefits for the rookie. When starting strongside linebacker Devante Bond injured his knee against Cincinnati in the preseason opener, Beckwith was moved from backup middle linebacker to the starting SAM linebacker spot. When Kwon Alexnader was injured this past week and missed a few practices the team moved Beckwith into the starting middle linebacker role as Adarius Glanton stepped in at SAM.

Beckwith’s early morning study sessions with Alexander and defensive coordinator Mike Smith have paid off and it’s shown on the practice field.

“We do it at 7:30 a.m. every morning,” Beckwith said. “It’s like a 10-15-minute thing – me, Mike [Smith] and Kwon. It’s the three of us. It’s definitely helped me. Coach Duff (linebackers coach Mark Duffner) definitely helps me out a lot.

“The main thing I’ve learned is that you have to be a student of the game. You really have to study and you have to take time out to learn.”

Beckwith’s knowledge will be tested on Saturday night as he is expected to start at middle linebacker in place of Alexander against Cleveland and he will serve as the quarterback of the defense.

Bucs DE Noah Spence - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

• Bucs legendary defensive end Simeon Rice spent two days at One Buccaneer Place watching practice and keeping a close eye on second-year defensive end Noah Spence, who appears poised for a breakout season after recording 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles as a rookie last year.

“He reminds me very much of myself,” said Rice, who is the third all-time sacker in Tampa Bay with 69.5 QB captures. “He has the talent. He has the capabilities. He has to allow it to shine now – don’t hide it from the world. Be what you are capable of being, do what you are capable of doing. It’s interesting to see because I’m like watching him after practice and they’re working. I’m like, ‘Yo, this kid wants to be special. This kid is going to be special.’ If you search for it long enough, you will find it.”

Spence was thrilled to work with the 43-year old Rice after practice and get some pointers from one of the NFL’s best pass rushers.

“It’s humbling,” Spence said. “It’s a blessing. To be that great and a player in his position to single me out – I’m at a loss for words. It’s a blessing to have him come talk to me. I’m trying to take it all in and use it on the field.”

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• Bucs tight end-fullback Alan Cross only caught one touchdown pass last year, but it was an important one. Cross hauled in a play-action touchdown from Jameis Winston in the fourth quarter at Kansas City that proved to be the game-winner in a 19-17 Tampa Bay upset victory.

“The big part of that game was [the Chiefs fans] were doing the Florida State chant,” Cross said. “So it was a home game for Jameis [a former Florida State quarterback] and he played like it. I just happened to get a ball thrown to me, which was cool. Yeah, that felt pretty good. Now I need to get a touchdown at home.”

While Cross is not necessarily a lock to make the team, he has played well in training camp and the preseason and is a “steady Eddie” – a reliable player that is always assignment sound. The PewterReport.com staff would be surprised if he didn’t make it.

• The popularity of the Pewter Nation Podcast continues to grow thanks to YOU, Pewter Nation! After hour-long podcasts during the offseason we are now producing two shorter podcasts (30-40 minutes) during football season – one mid-week and another one immediately after the Bucs preseason and regular season games. Here is a link to the latest Pewter Nation Podcast – Episode 23: Winston Is MJ And Mariota Is Kobe.

Pewter-Nation-Podcast-Pewter-ReportMake sure to visit PewterReport.com Sunday morning for our post-game analysis of Tampa Bay’s preseason home opener against Cleveland in a new Pewter Podcast Podcast, which Mark Cook, Trevor Sikkema and I will record immediately following the Bucs vs. Browns game at the stadium. In addition to listening to the Pewter Nation Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here.

• PewterReport.com’s coverage of the Bucs 2017 training camp has concluded and I want to thank several people for their hard work, so please indulge me for a minute. Vice president of editorial content Mark Cook did an excellent job of writing and doing a lot of the executive tasks that kept our Pewter Report ship going full steam ahead. In his seventh season with PewterReport.com, Cook is a veteran and it showed. A big “thank you” also goes out to camp interns, Austin DeWitt, Taylor Jenkins and Eric Evans for doing interviews and transcriptions – and a job well done.

Rookie Bucs beat writer Trevor Sikkema did an outstanding job of capturing some amazing practice video for our @PewterReport Twitter feed and for including those highlights in his detailed camp recaps. Sikkema was relentless on Twitter, handling about 90 percent of our in-game tweets. A couple of his videos for @PewterReport landed on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football program, including the infamous clip of Blake Bortles overthrowing Allen Robinson, who cursing was picked up by our audio. That clip was subsequently picked up by Bleacher Report’s Twitter account and liked over 9,000 times and was re-tweeted 19,000 times. Amazing.

Scott Reynolds, Cliff Welch and Bucs COO Brian Ford
Scott Reynolds, Cliff Welch and Bucs COO Brian Ford

A big thank you also goes out to PewterReport.com’s director of photography Cliff Welch, in addition to PR’s assistant photographer Mark Lomoglio and newcomer Mary Holt for their great photos during camp. Welch, who is entering his 31st year of working for PewterReport.com dating back to the Buccaneer Magazine days, has covered the Bucs longer than I have and keeps getting better and better in not only capturing the action on the field, but getting the shots that actually tell a story.

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• I’m 45 years old and it’s time to admit that I need glasses. My vision isn’t what it used to be and I needed to get my eyes checked out, so I called NewsomEye to make an appointment and I’m sure glad I did. Dr. Hunter Newsom and his staff of trained specialists took great care of me. I’ve never had such a thorough eye exam like the one I experienced at NewsomEye and I highly recommend them.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

26 COMMENTS

  1. Scott, thanks for all the STATS. I your 53 man roster..

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  2. Great job! Barring injury this is likely our 53.

    RB Martin’s suspension gives the rookie RB three more weeks to prove he belongs. Really like your TE list as well as Glanton being in the LB group.

    Go Bucs!

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  3. I think the Bucs keep 8 DL and look for a reserve pass rusher to add from the final cuts around the league. The reason why is the Bucs have more than enough DL that can play the run, but as far as pass rushers are concerned they are very thing and J. Smith’s injury history should indicate Bucs should plan to groom a player as a plan B to develop.

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  4. I believe the red zone touchdowns will come once Jameis stops forcing the ball into double and triple coverage. One Jameis gets it going throwing to the open receiver, the touchdowns will come in bunches. Then he will be on the road to greatness. I thought Coach Koetter using the word “greedy” was significant. Sometimes, you have to say something in a different way to get someone’s attention.

    The roster looks pretty good. I wonder if they bucs keep three qb’s during the season once Griffin gets healthy.

    Joe Thomas reminds me of Paul Gruber. A great left tackle who played on bad teams.

    TGIF, the Fab 5 is here. Thanks Scott and go Bucs!

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  5. On paper we’re built to be a great red-zone offense. With our capable big receiver in Evans, our big play man Jackson, our highly capable tight ends in Brate and Howard, and our RBs with very good hands and big-play capability (Martin and Sims), and of course a quarterback Winston who does what he does.

    Does paper translate into TDs in the regular season? We can only hope. It hasn’t showed up yet in the preaseason, where our RZ percentage is even less than the crappy performance last season. Why hasn’t it shown up yet in pre-season? Who knows.

    Tom me even 60% is not enough .. the offenses in the upper 1/3 of the league are well into mid 60s. That’s where we need to be.

    In which case, in most games it won’t matter if our kicker is an 80% guy or a 90% guy.

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    • I forgot to mention that our offensive line is also built for the red zone, with a couple of real bruisers surrounding a very promising new starting center.

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  6. I like you 53 man roster except I don’t think we need to carry 5 TEs. I think they cut Stocker. Yes he is a good blocking TE but so is Howard and he is a playmaker. I believe that spot would be better used at another position.

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    • I can definitely see where Stocker is the odd man out.
      Auclair’s potential could definitely outweigh Stocker’s production.
      Auclair can do what Stocker can and he can still develop into an even better version of what Stocker was expected to be when he was drafted.

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  7. Based on the number of each position kept, your 53 is solid. There are two Wild Cards: position numbers and what happens when Martin returns.

    IMO, McNichols has not impressed at all. He could be the odd man out when Martin returns.

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  8. As usual, great Fab 5 Scott. Re the projected final 53 roster, I agree with it but will offer an opinion on the 3rd QB Ryan Griffin, the LB affectionately known as Joe Dirt and carrying 5 TEs.

    If the Bucs medical staff clears Griffin the Bucs will have no choice but to keep him as a 3rd QB or lose him from waivers. There are several teams that will welcome him with open arms as a back-up QB. If he is not cleared, I think he will go to IR to return, eligible to practice after 6 weeks and can be activated after 8 weeks. Reserve PUP is not an option because he has practiced during the preseason.

    I agree that LB Riley Bullough will be a victim of the numbers game and the requirement for that last LB to be a ST contributor. I almost feel like Coach Koetter has forewarned us of this when speaking about Riley in his pressers. However, if he is waived expecting to sneak him onto the practice squad is wishful thinking. Joe Dirt has the distinction of being recognized in FanRag network as one of the best 5 UDFAs in the NFL. LB needy Miami is just waiting for that to happen. My opinion, if waived, just say goodbye!

    Carrying 5 TEs is OK if you consider hybrid Alan Cross to be a HB (pass catching FB). It could end up being a hard choice between him and Luke Stocker. For now, with 2 preseason games left, I think they keep both.

    This is going to be a tough cut down process. Koetter says we have more quality depth than he’s seen in the 3 years he’s been here. Good problem to have, but not everybody will be happy. Go Bucs!

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    • Everybody seems to love Riley … but whom do you cut to make room for him on the roster? To me there are no obvious answers. Even some of the third string offensive and linemen who may not be fan favorites or big personalities, we still need depth in the trenches. Who wants to give up depth at the offensive skill positions, thinking our receivers, tight ends, and running backs are going to make it unscathed throoughout a 16 game season?

      Not saying Riley Bullough doesn’t deserve to make the roster … I’m just saying I am glad I don’t have to make the very tough decision. That’s why they pay Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter to make those decisions.

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  9. Wasn’t that Super Bowl season playoff win against San Fran a Divisional game? Bucs were #2 seed and had a Wild Card bye.

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    • Yes. I believe that was the year that the Giants had a botched snap on the field goal try. They then threw into the end zone but no pi was called. Obviously, the 49ers won only to be destroyed by the Bucs next week.

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  10. Swap out Hawley for Riley and I think that would do it for me. Hawley is strictly a center with no special teams ability. I love Joe, but it’s time to move on. If Ali suffers an injury, Evans can be the center.

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  11. Well thought out 53 man roster Scott. I think you are spot on with your predictions. I would rather the Bucs keep Bernard Reedy over Josh Huff though. Also with Devante Bond being banged up that may cause the Bucs to keep another line backer.

    Just for Fun here is my Bucs 10 man practice squad:

    CB Player from another team
    OT Player from another team
    CB Jonathan Moxey
    OL Michael Liedtke
    DE Channing Ward
    DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu
    LB Richie Brown
    LB Riley Bullough
    WR Bernard Reedy
    WR Jesus Wilson

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  12. I want Stevie Tu’ikolovatu to make the team just so I can hear Dick Stockton try to pronounce it.

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  13. Reading that OL lineup makes me queasy. Dotson the only proven OT in the bunch, hopefully he and Sweezy can hold up or we’ll have a collection of swing/backup/needs to step up players surrounding our Center who could be the best OL we’ve had since Gruber.

    On the flip side this is the best set of pass catchers (WR + TE) we’ve had at one time by a mile. I, too, wonder about keeping Stocker given his relatively low ceiling but can live with it.

    Still not a fan of Sims, we need capable runners vs another pass catcher and he’s one dimensional, but we can afford to keep him and McNichols until the Dougernaut returns and cut the least productive. Liked what Barber has shown but it’s preseason and I still wish we had a bigger rock pounder to finish games late.

    The lack of proven talent at the DB position also jumps off the page. VH3 needs to put it all together, which I’d feel bad about expecting so soon if not for where we drafted him. If he can’t or if Grimes goes down, Houston we have a Problem.

    If given the choice I’d IR Griffin (if him not being able to play before week 8 is a problem the season is likelynshot anyway) and keep J. Dirt, or try to trad JD for a 6-7th round pick to a team that needs LB help and isn’t willing to risk him making it to them via waivers.

    All in, this is a pretty darn talented team that needs a little more depth to separate from the pack. But if a few guys step up as we’re hoping AND we get lucky with injuries look out it could be an exciting season, you wouldn’t want to face JW and those pass catchers in the playoffs…

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  14. Can’t make the club in the tub! While Riley can also play M.B., Bond better show up. I’ve seen more from Joe Dirt in two weeks, then I’ve seen out of Bond in two Years!

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  15. I think we have to keep Riley or another team will scoop him off waivers before he makes it to our practice squad. If Griffin starts the season on IR, that would make it very easy to keep Riley. If not, then one of Stocker/Cross/Auclair gets cut to keep Riley. I think Stocker would be the one who gets cut because he is a one-trick pony and injury-prone.

    The big question is what happens when Dougie Fresh gets back Week 4. That’s going to be a tough decision! Personally I think cut Ryan Fitzpatrick. If he is our QB the Bucs immediately lose any chance of winning big. At least Ryan Griffin is enough of an unknown that he may be able to do enough not to lose.

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  16. I think we keep Riley Bullough on the 53 man roster and not carry 5 tight ends! Our LB’s are going to get banged up over the season and we need the depth. No way Bullough clears waivers and makes it to the practice squad. And seriously, 5 tight ends!

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  17. Watching other teams this preseason I have seen third string QBs that are better than our third string QB who is injured to boot; so cut him and don’t carry three QBs. If our second QB goes down, pick up one of those superior third string QBs off their practice squad. That way you can add Bullough to our roster. I am yet to be sold on this week’s starting MLB. He lacks speed and has trouble getting off blocks. Otherwise, Scott, you have done well on all the rest of your roster predictions.

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  18. i say cut griffin. I think glennon will be available after this season for cheaper than we were willing to pay this offseason. Would rather have bullough or another kick returner with that roster spot.

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  19. I think Scott’s predicted 53 man roster is probably spot on if based solely on the current 90. However, history shows that there will likely be someone added from another team’s victims of the Turk. The back-up tackle spot is a concern.

    It’s hysterical that there is so much over-hyping of the player known as “Joe Dirt”. I too love his personality and obvious love for the game. It’s sure easy to root for that type of player. Without his co-starring role on Hard Knocks, most of us would be oblivious of him. The challenge he faces is that, at this point, he’s probably not as valuable as the players in front of him. Perhaps he can make it to the Practice Squad.

    I’ve seen enough of Ryan Fitzpatrick to hope Ryan Griffin is a fast healer. The guy with an obvious inflated opinion of himself leading up to his hold-out with the J-E-T-S last year certainly doesn’t make me think the team is in good hands with him holding the clip board. Just need someone who can come in and not lose the game.

    Looking forward to tonight’s game. After 40+ seasons on the east side, I switched to basically the same spot on the west side. I’m sure it will be an adjustment for me. Sun was never an issue for me. It was the fact that so many season ticket holders on the east side apparently purchased them for the sole purpose of selling them to the higher paying enemy fans. That’s akin to your best friend inviting you to a party while secretly inviting your ex girlfriend and her new beau. I’m grateful to the Bucs, and in particular Brittany, for accommodating my request.

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  20. My grandson and I were at practice on the 23rd. The team was in full pads,but the defense did not tackle. My question is that the norm?
    We had a great time although my grandson was not able to get Jamis Winstons autograph. Go Bucs !

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    • Yes, it’s common that Koetter’s team doesn’t tackle in practice.

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  21. Personally I’m hoping they go with Bernard Reedy over Josh Huff. I think he’s equal as a receiver, but much better on special teams. I also don’t see us keeping 5 TE’s personally. I think the Bucs have a better chance of sneaking Cross onto the PS than they do Auclair, some due in part to his presence on Hard Knocks.

    I really want Riley to make this team as a 6th LB. That said, the fact that he has only played MLB and not played the outside at all limits him. I feel he’ll be the favorite that’s playing for another team. That said with Bond out a few weeks, they could keep 6 LBs until he is completely healthy. If he does, Glanton could be the backup to Beckwith with Riley making the team as a backup to Kwon.

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