Donteea Dye (17) is trying to become Tampa Bay's fourth WR and kick returner – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
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. DYE EMERGING FROM BUCS’ SHAKY WR DEPTH
On the verge of the third preseason game of 2016, it seems as if the Buccaneers have made little progress in determining which players will be the fourth, fifth and possible sixth wide receivers this year. Through the first two preseason games, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins leads the team in catches with five for 46 yards, followed by running backs Storm Johnson and Russell Hansbrough, who have four catches apiece for 59 and 28 yards, respectively.
Tampa Bay’s leading wide receiver is Russell Shepard, who caught three passes for 62 yards, including a touchdown in the preseason opener at Philadelphia, but dropped a red zone pass and didn’t log a reception last week at Jacksonville. Jonathan Krause also has three catches for 56 yards, including a team-long 41 yards, but has a pair of drops, including one that resulted in an interception against the Eagles.
Bucs WR Russell Shepard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bernard Reedy has three catches for 44 yards, as does starting receiver Mike Evans, who has produced 28 yards and a touchdown on those receptions. Fellow starting receiver Vincent Jackson has one catch for 17 yards, and Adam Humphries, who was named the Bucs’ third receiver early in camp by Dirk Koetter, has one reception for two yards.
Rounding out the receiving corps, Evan Spencer and Andre Davis have two catches for 27 yards, Donteea Dye has one grab for 20 yards and Kenny Bell has yet to catch a ball in any preseason game dating back to last year since being drafted in the fifth round.
Simply put, the race for the reserve receiver spots is wide open in Tampa Bay. Shepard has failed to capitalize on his momentum from the Eagles game, and there hasn’t been much consistency from anybody else and that is very concerning. It concerns me, it should concern you, and it definitely concerns the Bucs’ brass, as the coaches and front office spent the offseason during OTAs lauding praise on the team’s receivers and the decision to essentially stand pat at the position, but are quiet as crickets right now.
This wouldn’t be such an issue if Evans and Jackson were rock solid, healthy receivers. But Evans has missed two and half games due to hamstring injuries over his first two years in the league, including the season opener last year. And he didn’t catch a pass at New Orleans in his first game back in action in Week 2 as he was getting back into game shape.
The 33-year old Jackson missed six games last year due to a knee injury, including the last four games in which Tampa Bay went 0-4 after a promising 6-6 start to the season. If Evans and/or Jackson miss a game this year there could be trouble for Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ passing attack.
Humphries is strictly a slot receiver who caught 27 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown as an undrafted free agent, while Dye, another undrafted free agent, only had 11 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown as Jackson’s replacement at split end a year ago. Shepard got even less playing time, catching three passes for 28 yards and a touchdown in 2015.
If the Bucs are without Evans or Jackson for a game or more this year, expect Koetter to use more screen passes to Doug Martin and Charles Sims to help Winston, and deploy more two-tight end sets to take advantage of Cameron Brate and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who are better, more reliable options right now in the passing game than any of the reserve receivers on the roster – unless Louis Murphy can return at full strength from an ACL injury he suffered last October.
And that’s counting on the oft-injured Seferian-Jenkins to stay healthy, too.
So is it safe to say that unless someone steps up in a huge way over the last two preseason games that Koetter and Licht’s fourth, fifth and possibly sixth receivers might be on another team right now?
Tampa Bay’s front office is scouting every team this preseason and will be aggressive on the waiver wire, but there are a lot of teams, including Washington, that need fourth and fifth wide receivers badly, too.
Bucs WRs Adam Humphries and Donteea Dye – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
The best thing that could happen to the Bucs would be for one of their young, unheralded receivers to stand and deliver over the next two preseason games as Humphries did last year. If this week’s practice was any sign, that player could be Dye.
“He’s battling,” Koetter said. “You can see not only his work at wide receiver, but he’s doing good things on special teams. “When you’re talking about your fourth and fifth wideouts, they have to play on special teams as well. He’s making a good case.”
After Bell fumbled the opening kickoff to the 2016 preseason in Philadelphia, Dye has stabilized the position for now by averaging 26.7 yards per return, including an impressive 31-yarder last week at Jacksonville. Another strong showing against Cleveland and Washington and Dye will make the team as Tampa Bay’s kick returner at the very least.
“I love kickoff return,” Dye said. “I’m glad Coach [Nate] Kaczor is letting me stay in. They’re really happy about the things that I’m doing and I’m really happy they’re giving me the opportunity.”
Dye’s stock at wide receiver is also on the rise, especially after a great week of practice against Cleveland. On Tuesday, Dye impressed as he caught four passes in a row from backup quarterback Mike Glennon on a single drive in the Bucs’ two-minute drill against the Browns.
“Just mentally I feel like he’s really taken ownership of this offense,” Humphries said. “D.D. can play all three positions. You saw today in two-minute, getting thrown to four times in a row and making plays. I went up to him and was like, ‘Man, you’re a legend today!’ The conditioning you have to have to get back-to-back-to-back-to-back catches like that is big time. With he and I coming in here as rookie try-out guys last year, it’s awesome to see both of us taking ownership of the offense and making some plays.”
Dye agrees that his better understanding of Koetter’s offense this year has translated to success in running better routes and getting open more often.
“I had four catches in a row [on Wednesday] and I just have to keep my motor going,” Dye said. “I’ve got a little bit more understanding of the offense, what defenses are trying to do, and the game speed now. I wasn’t too sure of it last year. It was new to me last year coming from my stage of play. This year it’s a little bit different. Not easier, but I’ve adjusted to it.”
Much was made about right guard Ali Marpet’s jump from Hobart College, a Division III school, to the NFL last year, but Dye had a similar leap from Heidelberg University, a Division III school in Ohio that has an enrollment of 1,300, which was smaller than his high school in Fairfield, Ohio. Dye said there were times throughout his rookie season when he certainly felt that the gap between a Division III school and the NFL was the size of the Grand Canyon.
Donteea Dye at Heidelberg – Photo courtesy of Heidelberg University
“Most definitely,” Dye said. “The first preseason game last year against Minnesota and it was the most fans I’ve ever played in front of. It was just a totally new atmosphere. That’s what I meant when I was saying last year was different and this year I’m more accustomed to things.”
Heidelberg’s games usually drew just over 2,000 fans. Dye’s first NFL, the Bucs vs. Vikings preseason opener last year, drew 50,610 spectators.
“I didn’t even think about that,” Humphries said. “That’s crazy. Just the size of the crowd and the atmosphere with people watching – I think some of our training camp practices might have more fan attendance than he had in college. Just having fans at practice was a big change for him, too.
“It’s hard enough coming from a Division I college to the NFL. The speed of the game changes. Coming from a D-III school to the NFL, I assume would be as similar to coming out of high school and starting at a D-I school as a true freshman. Your head is spinning and you’re just trying to survive out there. I’ve got a lot of respect for Donteea coming in from a D-III and just making the plays he did.”
After posting 116 receptions for 2,298 yards, including 57 catches for 1,022 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games during his senior year for the Heidelberg Student Princes – yep, that’s the school’s nickname – Dye made the Bucs as a try-out undrafted free agent. He was released in the final roster cut-downs, but kept on the practice squad due to the 4.39 speed he showcased at the NFL Scouting Combine. After showing the team plenty of juice in September, especially mimicking New Orleans’ speedy receiver Brandin Cooks, Dye was signed to the active roster on October 5 in place of Humphries, who would be re-signed.
When Murphy went down at Washington with a season-ending knee injury, Dye caught a 7-yard touchdown on his first NFL reception. But the 6-foot, 195-pound receiver wouldn’t catch more than a single pass in any game until catching four passes for 31 yards in 38-10 loss in the season finale at Carolina. Along the way there were some rough lessons to be learned.
After falling to the ground after a 44-yard catch against St. Louis down to the 5-yard line, Humphries got up, flicked the ball and began to celebrate his career-long reception. But the rookie receiver wasn’t touched by a defender and actually fumbled the ball, which was fortunately recovered by Bucs tight end Luke Stocker, who hustled downfield on the play.
Bucs WR Donteea Dye – Photo by: Getty Images
Then there was Dye’s costly dropped on third-and-10 late in the fourth quarter at home against New Orleans with the Bucs trailing 24-17 with less than five minutes left. Winston’s pass hit him right in the hands near midfield, but Dye couldn’t hang on and Tampa Bay was forced to punt. The Bucs wouldn’t get the ball back again in a crushing home defeat.
“I learned a lot from that one play,” Dye said. “I remember exactly which one it was – the exact play and the exact route. I’ve just got to bounce off it. I can’t control half the stuff that goes on out there on the field, but I can control catching the ball and that is what I’ve got to do.”
That drop didn’t cost the Bucs in their 26-21 loss to the Bears, but it certainly didn’t help. Dye didn’t let that play haunt him during the offseason. Instead, he used it as motivation to be a more sure-handed receiver like the one who caught everything in Wednesday’s practice against the Browns, including an over the shoulder touchdown.
“I’ve worked a lot on my hands in the offseason and I hit the JUGGS machine nearly every day,” Dye said. “My high school has a tennis ball machine that shoots tennis balls out. I caught at least 300 tennis balls a day every day when I was at home – except for the weekends. But Monday through Friday I was catching 300 tennis balls in the hallway of Fairfield High School working on my hands.”
If Dye can do what his fellow receivers haven’t been able to do – which is hang on to the ball over the next two preseason games – he stands a good chance of remaining a Buccaneer. With the starters expected to play into the third quarter against Cleveland, Dye might not get as many opportunities on Friday night as he will next Thursday in the preseason finale when Tampa Bay will rest its starters and he’ll play most of the game.
“I’m looking forward to this game [against Cleveland], not just the last one,” Dye said. “I prepare the same way for every game just like I’d prepare for the Super Bowl. I can’t look at is as I’ve got to do this in this game and do that in the other game. I’ve just got to go all out any time I’m out there and any opportunity I get.
“Honestly, I really don’t know where things stand [on the depth chart. I just continue down my path and do everything I can to stay consistent. I really don’t think of the roster spots. I’ve got to do my job and do things right.”
Dye will likely get his first crack at touching the ball against the Browns on another kick return, and Humphries, who has the inside track on the punt return job, likes what he’s seen thus far.
“He looked really good in the last game [on kick returns] as well as the first game,” Humphries said. “He’s a hard runner with great vision and obviously a fast guy. Obviously Donteea is tough. If he can make it out of a D-III school and make it in the NFL, that’s who you want back there on kick return.”
And possibly as the team’s fourth receiver.
FAB 2. BUCS WILL ADDRESS WR POSITION IN 2016 DRAFT
After selecting four wide receivers in his first two drafts as Tampa Bay’s general manager, Jason Licht couldn’t really afford to take another one in the 2016 NFL Draft. Especially after taking just one defensive player, linebacker Kwon Alexander, in Licht’s initial two drafts with the Bucs.
Tampa Bay had to spend some premium picks addressing the defensive side of the ball and did so with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, defensive end Noah Spence and safety Ryan Smith with three out of the team’s first four selections in 2016. Fans may be grumbling about Licht not picking a receiver instead of drafting kicker Roberto Aguayo after trading up in the second round, but this year’s crop of wide receivers was thin on talent to begin with, and what’s done is done.
Bucs WR Adam Humphries – Photo by: Getty Images
Even if Donteea Dye and special teams ace Russell Shepard end up rounding out a receiving corps that also includes Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Adam Humphries, there isn’t enough talent and experience to whether the loss of Evans or Jackson for a significant amount of time this year. And that’s even if veteran Louis Murphy returns from his ACL injury some time later this season after missing all of training camp and the preseason.
The Bucs will undoubtedly keep a close eye at the receiver position on the waiver wire, and one of the teams the Bucs will be watching closely is the Cleveland Browns, whom Tampa Bay practiced with on Tuesday and Wednesday and will be facing Friday night. Cleveland drafted four wide receivers this year, including Baylor’s Corey Coleman in the first round, along with Auburn’s Ricardo Louis, UCLA’s Jordan Payton, Colorado State’s Rishard Higgins. Although Coleman will make the team, not all of those rookie receivers are a lock to be on the 53-man roster, especially with Terrelle Pryor and Josh Gordon atop the depth chart.
Yet Tampa Bay’s chances of finding a receiver significantly better than Humphries, Dye or Shepard that could come in and play like an NFL starter in case Evans or Jackson is out for an extended time with an injury is incredibly slim. That’s why the Bucs will be addressing the receiver position in 2017 when the talent will be better than it was this past year.
With college football starting up next week, here are some receivers that are projected to go in the first three rounds in next year’s draft:
1. USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster – 6-2, 220 – 4.52 – Junior
Regarded as the best draft-eligible receiver this year, and a possible top-10 pick, Smith-Schuster has 143 catches for 2,178 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career, including 89 receptions for 1,454 yards and 10 TDs last year. We’ll see how he adjusts to life with a new QB after Cody Kessler at USC.
Clemson WR Mike Williams – Photo by: Getty Images
2. Clemson WR Mike Williams – 6-3, 220 – 4.50 – Junior
Williams has 79 catches for 1,366 yards and 10 touchdowns in his Clemson career with 57 of those receptions for 1,030 yards and six scores coming in 2014. His 2015 campaign ended in the first game after breaking his neck hitting the upright in the back of the end zone on a touchdown catch, but he’ll be Dashaun Watson’s featured receiver this year.
3. Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford – 6-1, 190 – 4.49 – Junior
Ford had a breakout season in 2015 with 75 catches for 1,164 yards and 11 touchdowns to push his two-season total at Virginia Tech to 131 receptions for 1,873 yards and 17 touchdowns. Ford doesn’t have blazing speed, but ripped off a 75-yard TD in a 55-52 bowl win over Tulsa en route to a 12-catch, 227-yard day.
4. Michigan WR Jehu Chesson – 6-3, 200 – 4.5 – Senior
Chesson does it all at Michigan from receptions to end-arounds to the return game, but has amassed a modest 79 catches for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career. However, Chesson is a late bloomer, with 10 catches for 207 yards and four TDs in a late-season 48-41 2OT win against Indiana, and five catches for 118 yards and a TD against Vernon Hargreaves III and Florida in a 41-7 bowl win.
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis – Photo by: Getty Images
5. Western Michigan WR Corey Davis – 6-3, 218 – 4.48 – Senior
Davis has had monstrous production for head coach P.J. Fleck, catching 235 passes for 3,785 yards and 33 touchdowns over the last three years. Davis had a catch of at least 65 yards in three of his last four games in a season in which he racked up a career-high 90 catches for 1,436 yards and 12 touchdowns.
6. LSU WR Malachi Dupre – 6-3, 190 – 4.56 – Junior
Despite not having great quarterback play at LSU, Dupre has caught 57 passes for 1,016 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career, and having a breakout year with 43 receptions for 698 yards and six scores last year. The big-bodied Dupre appears primed for a big year.
7. Clemson WR Artavis Scott – 5-11, 190 – 4.49 – Junior
The Clearwater, Fla. native has 169 catches for 1,866 yards and 14 scores in his Clemson career, including back-to-back seasons over 900 yards. Scott is Watson’s chain-mover, but he’ll need to increase his yards-per-catch average from 9.7 last year to help his draft stock.
8. LSU WR Travin Dural – 6-2, 203 – 4.49 – Senior
Dural, who plays opposite Dupre for the Tigers, has outstanding leaping ability and speed to stretch the field, evidenced by his career average of 20 yards per catch. He has 72 catches for 1,436 yards and 12 touchdowns in his LSU career, and may end up having a better season than Dupre with better quarterback play.
9. Florida State WR Travis Rudolph – 6-1, 190 – 4.52 – Junior
Rudolph was as inconsistent as Florida State’s quarterback play last year, but had incredible games against Syracuse with five catches for 191 yards and three touchdowns, and Houston with seven receptions for 201 yards and a TD. If he plans on entering the 2017 NFL Draft he’ll need to top 1,000 yards for the first time in his career this year.
Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp – Photo by: Getty Images
10. Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp – 6-2, 215 – 4.54 – Senior
Kupp enters his senior year with 311 catches for 4,764 yards and 56 touchdowns at EWU. He’s averaged nearly 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns per season and has an interesting blend of hands, size, speed and determination. Keep an eye on this sleeper.
11. Oregon WR Darren Carrington II – 6-1, 195 – 4.49 – Junior
Carrington has averaged 19 yards per catch in each of his two seasons with the Ducks in Oregon’s run-first spread offense. If he can significantly add to his career totals of 69 catches for 1,313 yards and 10 touchdowns he can really boost his draft stock. Carrington has to fight the poor draft history of Oregon wide receivers producing in the NFL.
12. Texas A&M WR Speedy Noil – 5-11, 192 – 4.36 – Junior
Noil saw his production dip last year with the emergence of super freshman Christian Kirk and another consistent year from Josh Reynolds, but he has 67 catches for 809 yards and seven touchdowns in his Texas A&M career and has speed to burn and great leaping ability.
Texas A&M WR Josh Reynolds – Photo by: Getty Images
13. Texas A&M WR Josh Reynolds – 6-4, 195 – 4.52 – Senior
Reynolds had a monster sophomore season with 52 catches for 842 yards and 13 touchdowns, and followed it up with 51 grabs for 907 yards and five TDs, but one of them was a 95-yarder that showcased his speed. Reynolds leads a stacked Aggies WR corps that will be seeking more consistent QB play in 2016.
Adam Humphries, who played at Clemson with Williams and Scott, thinks both are NFL-ready.
“They’re both great players,” Humphries said. “I remember both of them came in and made an impact immediately their freshman years. I know they can do the same thing in the league. Mike Williams has got ball skills like DeAndre Hopkins, but he’s a bigger player. Unfortunately he got injured Week One in a freak accident. That was unfortunate, but I really think he can make an impact in the league. I saw a mock draft where Mike was mocked to us. That would be awesome. We don’t have any other Clemson guys down here, so that would be awesome to have Mike down here, too. He’s a good friend of mine, and a great player. Artavis is just a guy who can do a lot of things and he’ll be valuable for an NFL team, too.”
Evans played with Noil and Reynolds at Texas A&M and stuck up for his guys, too.
“Speedy is a heck of a player,” Evans said. “He’s a tough guy. He’s actually more tough than fast, but he is a fast player like Christian Kirk.
Texas A&M WR Speedy Noil – Photo by: Getty Images
“I believe Josh Reynolds can be a first-round pick and I hope he has a great year. He makes the contested catches and he goes up and gets the ball at the highest point. He’s fast, too. Very fast.”
Alexander would love to see one of his former LSU Tigers teammates in Tampa Bay.
“Dural can jump – he can jump and run,” Alexander said. “It’s going to be hard to stop that guy. He’s coming off an injury now, but look out. Dupree is going to be a great receiver, too. Both of them are great athletes. I think both of them are first- or second-day picks next year. Hopefully we get one of them.”
Hargreaves covered both Dural and Dupre while at Florida and thinks both are NFL-caliber players just like Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry were at LSU a few years ago.
“They are very good players and very fundamentally sound receivers,” Hargreaves said. “They understand the system and they’re explosive. They can make big plays. I’m not sure which one is the better guy at this point. It’s hard to say. I’d have to see them one more year. Those guys at LSU are great players. They are on their way to being ready for the NFL if they’re not already there.”
Hargreaves squared off against Chesson in the Gators’ embarrassing bowl loss to the Wolverines and came away impressed with the Michigan senior.
Michigan WR Jehu Chesson – Photo by: Getty Images
“I saw him in the bowl game and he had a good game,” Humphries said. “Michigan has a great program and great coaches. Any big program like that will have guys ready for the NFL. He has great size, great hands. He can do it all.”
Davis happens to be my current favorite college wide receiver and I asked Bucs cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, who covered him while playing in the MAC at Bowling Green, about the Western Michigan star during training camp.
“He was definitely one of the more talented guys in the MAC whose game could translate to the NFL,” Adjei-Barimah said. “He’s really quick and athletic. I played him my senior year and he’s really good. He has size and speed – he’s the total package.
“Another thing he does well is track the deep ball very well. He’s very explosive. He had a brother, Titus Davis, who went to Central Michigan that was pretty good, too. The wideout position runs in the family.”
The two best wide receivers in college football – Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Texas A&M’s Kirk – are true sophomores and aren’t eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft, but there should be more than enough talent for Tampa Bay to choose from next April as it seeks better depth behind Evans, and a possible replacement for Jackson, who will be a 34-year old free agent in the offseason.
FAB 3. SMITH IS BUCS’ OTHER ROOKIE DB MAKING STRIDES
He was drafted to upgrade the talent in Tampa Bay’s secondary.
He’s already working his way up the Bucs’ depth chart.
He recorded his first NFL interception in last Saturday’s preseason win at Jacksonville.
No, I’m not talking about cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who was Tampa Bay’s first-round pick.
I’m talking about safety Ryan Smith, the team’s fourth-round selection. You know – the small school kid from North Carolina Central.
Lost in the shadow of Hargreaves’ big, two-interception game against the Jaguars was Smith’s fourth quarter pick, which he followed up with another interception against Cleveland during Tuesday’s joint practice. You might have heard about that if Hargreaves didn’t record two more picks on Tuesday, too.
Smith isn’t jealous of Hargreaves’ early success and doesn’t mind the rookie cornerback out of Florida grabbing the headlines during the preseason.
Bucs S Ryan Smith – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
“Me and Vernon are roommates and we were roommates at the Combine as well,” Smith said. “Now we’re teammates on the Bucs. That’s my friend right there. It was good seeing him do his thing in Jacksonville and then me going and getting an interception too. We combined for three out of the four so it was pretty cool for being rookies. I was happy for him and he was happy for me. So, yeah it was pretty exciting.
“It was pretty cool. I was excited. I always wanted an interception in the NFL. Because it was only my second game in the league, getting an interception felt pretty good. You’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity. I took advantage of it and the game was over so it was pretty cool.”
Because he played at a small school, Smith didn’t come to the Bucs with the fanfare that Hargreaves, who played at nearby Florida, did. That’s okay because Smith comes to Tampa Bay with plenty of swagger and a chip on his shoulder, which the Bucs scouts loved when scouting him.
“All my life I’ve been doubted,” Smith said. “I wasn’t always the biggest. I went to a smaller school where the competition wasn’t as high. It’s really not too big of a jump. I play with a lot of passion and heart. I just want to go out there and prove myself. I’ve been doing it all my life. It’s nothing new here. The only new thing is just trying to adjust to the whole level. It is a big level, a big jump, but it’s football. If you can play ball, you can play ball, and I’m comfortable.”
Smith played cornerback the last two years at North Carolina Central where he had 15 tackles, nine pass breakups and two interceptions last year, but spent his first two years in college playing safety, which is where Tampa Bay wants him.
“It’s crazy,” Smith said. “I didn’t expect to come here and play safety, but when they said it, I was like, ‘Okay, I just have to adjust to it. It’s cool.’
“At this point it doesn’t really matter. I’m comfortable regardless. I’m just trying to get used to playing safety again. I’m used to doing whatever. Whatever helps the defense. Where I’m supposed to be, I’m supposed to be. I’m just there.”
Because of his extensive background as a cornerback, the 5-foot-11, 189-pound Smith was deemed to be a perfect fit in Mike Smith’s defensive scheme, which often calls for the safeties to play man coverage against slot receivers or tight ends.
“I love man,” the rookie safety said. “When Coach Smith calls man coverage I’m like, ‘All right! Cool!’ You’ve only got one job and that’s the man in front of you.”
But playing man isn’t the only responsibility for Tampa Bay’s safeties. Because there is a lot of pre-snap disguising of coverages, it puts a lot of stress on the safeties to think quickly and react.
Bucs S Ryan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I played corner the last few years and we played a lot of man, so I didn’t have to do a lot of thinking,” Smith said. “This defense is totally different. There’s more thinking, but when you get it, you play faster. I’m just trying to understand a lot more so I can play faster and help the defense so we can disguise it a lot more too.”
Veteran safety Chris Conte is impressed with how quickly Smith has picked up Tampa Bay’s new scheme.
“He’s very athletic,” Conte said. “Ryan is fast and he played corner so he is going to be good in coverage. We’re kind of similar. I played corner in college too. We’ve had similar paths and I think we’re similar types of players. We’re both fast and rangy. He’s got a bright future. He’s just got to keep studying. There is a lot to this defense. It’s a lot more complicated than your average defense and what we played last year. It’s just a lot to learn.
“As a rookie you don’t get a lot of time and you don’t have a lot of experience, especially playing corner. He didn’t have to make a lot of calls. He didn’t have to do a lot of the stuff that he has to do now. He’s just got to take it slow mentally and not get frustrated. I think there is a lot of pressure on him from the coaches, but he’s just got to relax and realize that he’s going to make mistakes. The one thing that he can do is just go out and play fast and he showed that the other night.”
One of the reasons why the Bucs liked Smith was his speed and athleticism. He ran a 4.47 at the NFL Scouting Combine, in addition to posting a 36-inch vertical leap.
“My speed helps me – the Bucs got me at 4.3,” Smith said. “I don’t know the exact time, but I ran a 4.4 at the combine. Actually, that’s the slowest I’ve ever ran and the first time with a laser. Really, I was disappointed with my time.”
Jude Adjei-Barimah was a safety at Bowling Green before making the switch to cornerback once he landed with Tampa Bay, so he understands the difficulty of switching positions. Adjei-Barimah notes that Smith’s speed and coverage ability will help him make a smooth transition to safety.
“He has great athleticism and he’s a fast guy,” Adjei-Barimah said. “He runs fast. Everything he does is with twitch and speed. I feel like his athleticism being a cornerback converting to safety gives him a better feel for coverage and being able to cover man-to-man. He brings athleticism to the safety position and he’s been doing really well as a rookie, especially in this defense trying to pick up all the nuances.
“At cornerback all you have to worry about is your man. Moving over to safety and having to realize if he’s in a run fit or not and having to read keys, I think he’s come along really well. He’s going to be a good player for us. When you have a safety that can cover man-to-man it’s like having four cornerbacks out there when you’re in nickel.”
Despite being a safety in the NFL, Smith’s favorite players are still cornerbacks, headlined by Arizona’s Patrick Peterson, and Cleveland’s Joe Haden, whom he got to meet this week with the Browns in town for two joint practices and Friday night’s game.
“Patrick Peterson is my favorite player,” Smith said. “I like Joe Haden, too, and I played with his little brother in Pop Warner. Patrick Peterson, I really look up to him. I look up to Brent Grimes, too. Before every game of my college career – it’s crazy – I would look at Vernon Hargreaves highlight tape as well. So I would look at Peterson, Grimes and Hargreaves – and I’m teammates with two of those guys. I felt like Hargreaves was the best corner coming out this draft. He is a real good dude and we vibe real well. But out of all those three, Patrick Peterson is someone I really look up too because he returns punts, he plays corner, and he does it all. That’s what I was doing in college.”
Smith had a healthy 28.1-yard kick return average last year and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. While he’s practiced returning kicks during training camp he has yet to get the opportunity to do that in a preseason game.
“I hope so,” Smith said. “Saturday I was hoping he was going to hang it up there so I can get a return, but my time will come. Whenever God is ready for it to happen, it will happen. I’m not rushing anything. When I get my opportunity, I’ll take advantage of it.
“I love playing special teams, but my favorite is kick return, though. That really sets the tone – either the beginning of the game or the start of the second half. I feel like I can really contribute to that. So hopefully this preseason I get some chances to prove it.”
Meanwhile, Smith has proven to be a quick study and has been taking some second-team reps at safety with Keith Tandy and ahead of veteran Major Wright. With starter Bradley McDougald only signed through 2016 and disappointing in training camp, it’s not inconceivable that Smith would contend for a starting role opposite Conte in 2017. With Saturday’s interception at Jacksonville, he’s off to a very impressive start.
“Ryan is very athletic,” Conte said. “Hey, they threw him the ball and he caught it. Catch the ones they throw you and you’re good. I think he’s going to be a good player for us.”
FAB 4. BUCS NEED AGUAYO TO KICK HIS WAY OUT OF SLUMP
There’s no hiding the fact that Roberto Aguayo and the Buccaneers are in trouble – even if Tampa Bay hides their rookie kicker.
The Bucs swear they weren’t hiding Aguayo by not having a field goal period on Wednesday, which was the last day of open training camp and the final joint practice with the Browns. Apparently there weren’t any plans to have any field goals kicked on Wednesday – despite the fact that the Bucs worked on field goals in every practice.
If head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht were hiding Aguayo it was probably a smart move. On Tuesday he missed three field goals, including one bad shank that drew a few boos from the thousand or so Bucs fans in attendance. The media reported those misses and it became a big story on social media and in the national media.
“He’s struggling,” Koetter said. “He’s struggling a little bit right now. He’s got to work his way through it.”
Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“When you’re overthinking like, ‘Okay, I have to do this and this and this,’ you get too many thoughts in your head,” Aguayo said. “Sometimes you have to sit back and relax and just kick it. That’s the mindset going into practice and throughout this week.”
There’s no need to put any more pressure on Aguayo than he already feels as a 22-year old rookie that has the extra scrutiny that comes with being a second-round pick, which is very high for a kicker. Some would say too high, despite the Florida State All-American entering the draft as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, connecting on 96.73 percent of his kicks. Aguayo didn’t miss a single extra point in college and was also perfect on all field goals inside of 40 yards.
Yet Aguayo missed his first extra point attempt in the NFL by hitting the left upright at Philadelphia in his first preseason game two weeks ago, and missed two field goals from 32 and 49 yards wide right last week at Jacksonville. Thus far he’s 3-of-5 on field goals and 3-of-4 on extra points where he was expected to be perfect by the team and the Bucs fan base.
The good news for Aguayo is that Bucs practices are now closed to the public, and the media only gets to view the first 30 minutes of practice from now on. There won’t be any more documenting his missed field goals for public consumption, so there is less pressure now, which should help him work his way out of his slump.
The bad news is that Aguayo’s difficulties will be highlighted on Friday night’s nationally televised game against Cleveland. I hope for his sake – and the Bucs’ sake considering this is a home game – that the kid is perfect against the Browns.
Want more bad news? Even if he can’t get out of his slump, the Bucs are stuck with Aguayo this year given the fact that Licht spent a second-round pick on him.
Tampa Bay can’t bring in another kicker as that would negatively affect his confidence, and the team can’t afford to carry two kickers on the active roster anyway. Aguayo is going to have to kick his way out of his slump. There’s no way around it.
Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Getty Images
With kickers, success is measured in a pass-fail world.
You make it. You pass.
You miss it. You fail.
“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Licht said on draft day when he raised eyebrows around the league by drafting Aguayo in the second round. “I like the way he’s wired. I like the body of work that he’s put out there, obviously.
“A great kicker can be the difference in several games. I’ve been around some great ones: Adam Vinatieri, [Stephen] Gostkowski. Those guys are invaluable. We obviously took him, we used a pick to go up and get him. So we feel very confident about it. We needed to be bold there and we were.”
I understood Licht’s bold move at the time and even applauded it. Right now this draft grade is looking more “fail” than “pass,” but it’s still the preseason and Aguayo has two more games to get the kinks worked out.
Otherwise this could be a long season for Aguayo, Licht and the Bucs in what is considered a “field goal league” with so many games decided by three points or less. For a team that has playoff aspirations, an inaccurate kicker is a scary proposition.
Let’s hope the kid is wired the right away and kicks himself out of his slump. There’s no other way.
FAB 5. SR’s BUCS SHOTS
• Time is running out for wide receiver Kenny Bell, Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2015, to prove he belongs on the Buccaneers’ 53-man roster. Dating back to two preseason games last year, Bell has yet to record catch, and his fumbled opening kickoff at Philadelphia cost him a chance to be the Bucs’ kick returner, which appears to be Donteea Dye’s to lose.
Bucs WR Kenny Bell – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
With one – and perhaps two – more preseason opportunities, Bell feels there is a sense of urgency to make a catch and an impression on the Bucs coaches and front office. Bell had a chance to make a tough catch last week against Jacksonville, but was rocked by a Jaguars defensive back that knocked himself out of the game.
“There’s always urgency to make plays and prove you belong here,” Bell said. “There’s always a sense of urgency. That certainly hasn’t gone away. More importantly I wanted to make the catch, so that’s the hardest part. Getting hit is part of football. I hope he’s all right. It didn’t feel great, but I got to play football. You’ve got to get up and go. There’s always pressure to make a roster. So yes, it terms of catching the rock, I know I catch the football well.
“The opportunities I’ve had have haven’t been good opportunities. On the fade route, the DB made a tremendous play. The other one, I got hit harder than I’ve ever been hit in my life. It’s tough. Do I want to make those plays? Yes, but by no means am I down on myself. We’re talking about I’ve played four games now and gotten maybe four or five targets. Is production expected? Absolutely. I want to catch the ball when it comes my way, but it’s been tough. There’s no excuse. The ball is coming my way I’ve got to make plays. There’s a sense of urgency, but am I sweating bullets over here? I wouldn’t say that. I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep plugging away. I’m working hard and I think I’m doing the right things.”
Bell, who is the Bucs’ fastest receiver, knows that he is running out of time and needs to make something happen against Cleveland on Friday night, and again on Thursday against Washington – if he survives the first round of roster cuts.
“I know that I’m going to give everything I have at whatever position I’m at and do whatever I can to make the team,” Bell said. “Whether that is returning kicks, or covering kicks, or catching footballs on offense, I’m going to do everything I can to be here. I played a ton of special teams all throughout college. It’s time to start taking the steps towards becoming a professional football player. Just like last week was a big week in Jacksonville, it’s a big week here against Cleveland.”
Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor – Photo by: Getty Images
• Another sleeper wide receiver to keep an eye on during this college football season is Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor. The 6-foot, 195-pound senior plays faster than his timed speed of 4.54 and had a breakthrough season in 2015 with 86 catches for 1,467 yards (17.1 avg.) and 17 touchdowns. In three years with the Hilltoppers, Taylor has recorded 155 catches for 2,504 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Bucs cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah tried to help defend Taylor in 2014, but he scorched Bowling Green for 12 catches for 185 yards, including a 55-yard TD.
“That was my senior year and he was the slot guy,” Adjei-Barimah said. “He’s explosive and dynamic. He hit bubble screens, made guys miss and took it 60 yards. He’s another good receiver like Corey Davis [from Western Michigan]. There’s a lot of talent in the MAC, especially at the receiver position. It’s good to see guys from my conference get in position to make it in the NFL.”
Taylor made a good impression on Bucs offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Todd Monken last year when he was the head coach at Southern Miss. Taylor lit the Eagles up for eight catches for 165 yards (20.6 avg.) and two touchdowns.
• Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries is included in a recent string of Clemson pass catchers that have successfully ascended to the NFL level. With Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Deon Cain, a Tampa native, emerging as the next trio of Tigers to be drafted by NFL teams, Clemson has all of a sudden become Wide Receiver U.
“The last three or four years all the receivers who have come out of Clemson have been pretty successful in the league,” Humphries said. “Even just making it in the NFL is a huge feat. You look at Deandre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, Jaron Brown for Arizona, and Charone Peak for the Jets, I think that says a lot about our coaching staff and what we can do at Clemson at the receiver position.”
Humphries hasn’t done much at the receiver position in the 2016 preseason in Tampa Bay since being named the team’s third receiver, but isn’t worried about his lack of production thus far.
“I had one catch for two yards,” Humphries said. “Obviously I’m not getting a ton of reps in preseason. That’s going to change when the season starts. I think I had twelve plays the first game and thirteen the second game. That’s going to jump up to 65 plays when we go to Atlanta, so I’m going to get a lot more opportunities. I’m not rushing it or worried about if the balls come my way. I’m a role player and I’m going to do what I have to do to help this team win.”
Bucs WRs Donteea Dye, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans – Photo by: Getty Images
• Second-year Bucs receiver Donteea Dye is right behind Vincent Jackson at the split end or “X” receiver position, and that’s the ideal spot for Dye when it comes to learning how to play the position.
“They’ve got me outside right behind VJax,” Dye said. “I’m comfortable there because that’s where I was last year. When VJax went down last year, that’s where I had to fill in, and I learn a lot from that guy, too.
“He’s a great guy. He’s not really too vocal, like Jameis [Winston] is, but if you ask him a question he understands things way more than anybody I know. I don’t understand how he reads coverage so well on the run. If I got any questions I’m going to a coach or I’m going to VJax. Either one is going to give me a good answer. I love VJax. He is a great leader and a great role model for me.”
• Third-year offensive lineman Kevin Pamphile began his NFL career playing as an extra tight end, as well as getting some reps at both left tackle and right tackle during his rookie year. In his second season, he started his first NFL game at left guard filling in for Logan Mankins. With J.R. Sweezy sidelined with a back injury the entire offseason and during training camp, Pamphile appears set to start the 2016 season at left guard.
But when Ali Marpet was sidelined in a walking boot on Tuesday as a precautionary measure for a swollen ankle, Pamphile was pressed into duty at right guard with Evan Smith replacing Pamphile at left guard.
“It was left guard today,” Pamphile laughed. “I’m just waiting for Dirk [Koetter] to put me out at receiver – just in case. Maybe he wants to surprise defenses. They would say, ‘Oh, they’re not going to throw the ball to him. He’s an offensive lineman.’ I’m waiting on that day.’”
Pamphile admits he has played every position along the offensive line in practice during his three years in Tampa Bay – even center, which he’s not fond of.
Bucs OL Kevin Pamphile – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I have played center in practice,” Pamphile said. “That was a real eye-opener for me. It was an experience to see how important the center position really is. You’re the quarterback’s right-hand man when it comes to protecting him.
“Hey, the best ability is availability – that’s what Dirk always says. And you’ve heard Dirk reference me as a jack-of-all-trades. He can plug me in pretty much anywhere and I’ll play like a starter. The more you can do, the longer you can play in the league. I don’t mind moving around.”
• I wanted to take the time to thank you for your feedback on the new PewterReport.com website built by Visual Realm. As I previously mentioned, we are still making some tweaks and adjustments to the site and the message boards and your comments are extremely helpful in directing a lot of the positive changes that are being made. The overwhelming majority of comments we’ve received from PewterReport.com visitors have been positive, which is great to hear.
For some, change can take a while to get used to, and our hope is that after using the new site and new message board that you’ll adjust and learn to like the new PewterReport.com. I know I rejected the Buccaneers’ new uniforms when they debuted in 2014, but I grew to really like the revamped look.
• Thank you, the loyal PewterReport.com reader, for helping @PewterReport eclipse 23,000 followers on Twitter this week, which makes us one of the most followed media outlets on Twitter when it comes to covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If you haven’t done so already, click here to follow @PewterReport, the official Twitter page of PewterReport.com.
• PewterReport.com ramps up its regular radio appearances on 620 WDAE, the official flagship station of the Buccaneers Radio Network, in two weeks, so take note of these weekly scheduled times:
Mondays at 9:30 am – Mark Cook with Ronnie “Night Train” Lane and Tom “TKras” Krasniqi
Mondays at 1:30 pm – Scott Reynolds with Ron Diaz and JP Peterson
Fridays at 9:30 pm – Scott Reynolds with Ronnie “Night Train” Lane and Tom “TKras” Krasniqi
Mondays at 1:00 pm – Mark Cook with Ron Diaz and JP Peterson
• We’ve rescheduled our first Pewter Report Happy Hour at Two Henrys Brewing Company and Keel & Curley Winery to Wednesday, September 14 starting at 6:00 p.m. Come out and meet PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook and I, have a few beers and talk Bucs football with us and get some inside scoop on your favorite team. Bring your Bucs-related questions as we’ll have the answers.
Cook and I will also be joined by Derek Fournier of WhatTheBuc.net and we’ll be doing a live taping of the WhatTheBuc.net podcast immediately following the Pewter Report Hour, so stay for dinner at Two Henrys and Keel & Curley as food is now served in the tasting room. Two Henrys and Keel & Curley is the official beer and wine of PewterReport.com, and is located at 5210 Thonotosassa Road in Plant City, right off I-4 and about 10 minutes away from downtown Tampa and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. I’ll have more on this Pewter Report Happy Hour in next week’s SR’s Fab 5, so stay tuned.
• Speaking of Seminole Hard Rock, PewterReport.com will be once again hosting Pewter Watch Parties for Tampa Bay’s away games all season long at Hard Rock Cafe. Come watch Tampa Bay play Atlanta on September 11 on the giant 18-foot screen at Hard Rock Cafe with the PewterReport.com staff as well as former Bucs players and win prizes. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is the official entertainment destination of PewterReport.com.
There will be food specials each week and Two Henrys Brewing Company will have FREE beer samples at every Pewter Watch Party, and Hard Rock Cafe will be serving Two Henrys Gilded Age Lager and Two Henrys Bellview Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat beer, too. More details in next week’s SR’s Fab 5.
• And finally, tailgating season is here, and Just Grillin is your tailgate headquarters for all of your grilling needs whether it’s a new Big Green Egg or Weber grill, charcoal, grilling tools and accessories or rubs or spices. Just Grillin’s week-long Semi-Annual Blowout Sale starts Sunday, so it’s the perfect time to stop by if you haven’t been to Just Grillin yet. Just Grillin is the official grill and outdoor kitchen store of PewterReport.com, and is conveniently located 15 minutes north of Raymond James Stadium at 11743 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Carrollwood. Visit them on the web at JustGrillinFlorida.com.
And if you are interested in attending one of Just Grillin’s Saturday morning cooking classes, if you call (813) 962-1700 and mention “Pewter” you can make your reservation for FREE as each class costs $15 and includes lunch, beer, wine and soft drinks. My wife and I have attended several of these cooking classes, and Just Grillin owner Doug Driscoll does a great job of showing you some grilling tips and provides great recipes and great food. The hour-and-a-half classes make a great lunch date on Saturdays. This Saturday’s class is “Walk The Plank” grilling class, followed by “Tailgating 101” next Saturday. Call (813) 962-1700 and mention “Pewter” to reserve your spot as seating is limited.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: [email protected]
Another GREAT fab 5 Scott. On the Aguayo thing. We could have had 2 impact players this year had we not drafted him. I was against the pick on draft night. Not because I did not think he we be a good kicker, I did. I objected for 3reasons. 1-No GOOD teams draft kickers that high. What Licht failed to mention is the New England kickers were 4th round and undrafted free agents. 2- the opportunity costs. This is NOT a deep roster and we could have had 2 impact players for what we paid and 3-he would have to be a LOT better than any other kicker to justify the cost.
My thoughts exactly! A kicker is important, but two really good impact players could have potentially made more of an impact. I think either Barth or Murray would have been sufficient. Only time will tell.
It would appear now that we need a WR but next year’s draft is a long ways away. Other positions could turn out to be higher needs (OT, DE and safety come to mind), a player’s final year in college to me is the most important year and we also don’t know who will be available in free agency. There’s nothing wrong with looking at the players listed above this season, but I would advise everyone to look at the top players at EVERY position this year to be prepared to discuss who we should draft in the offseason. I normally do that but I made the mistake of not paying Aguayo much attention last year, instead going off of his history of work. It’s my mistake for not researching he had missed that many kicks last season. In the offseason I said there were three game changers in this draft: E. Elliott, J. Ramsey and Aguayo. It’s looking like Aguayo will be a game changer alright…just not in the direction we would like. Again, I recommend we study the top players at every position because you never really know what position the Bucs are looking at drafting.
I tried to point this out in my rant on draft day – much akin to what @Bucnut2 described above – Aguayo’s historic issues have been on 40+ yard field goals, but everyone kept pointing to his shorter field goal percentage and saying he never ever missed. I did an analysis on PR of Aguayo versus Barth and versus the average NFL kickers…not sure why Licht never did this.
Anyway, the story I was (and still am) expecting out of Aguayo is that he will improve our percentage on shorter kicks and extra points, but overall he will have little impact on Wins/Losses because he is fairly below average (by NFL standards) on long kicks. That’s not to say he won’t kick game winning field goals, but it’s just to say that his “automaticness” (or lack thereof) will not be the reason we Win/Lose…in time, he’ll have much the same impact as say a top-quartile kicker will have overall – and that’s pretty good, just not game changing.
and of course people liked to point out this kick-off benefit too (i.e., his ability to kick the ball to the 1 yard line and force a return)…I’m skeptical at this juncture that there is a benefit to this over just booting it out of the endzone and letting the opponents start at the 25…we’ll see.
EEB- remember when Licht was selling us that his misses were because of the wider college has marks??? No offense SR but you and Cook bought that crap as well.
I think,oots of rationalizing has been done indeed. As Is aid after my draft-day rant “he’s our kicker now, so we just need to move to the acceptance stage”…I honestly am there now and simply hope that he can get some help for the “yips” and becomes an exceptional short-range kicker. At least with that, we can build an offensive game plan around punting/kicking when we get across mid-field. Go BUCS!
EastEndBoy, yeah I remember your rant on draft day. That was the first time it came to my attention that he had missed that many kicks. I was actually pissed I had missed that myself being such a data/analysis junkie. I hate excuses so I won’t offer any. However, it’s my belief that if someone asks you a question like, “What made you think it was a good idea to…” then the response is no longer an excuse, it’s a reason that the questioner is interested in. At this point I agree that since he’s a Buc all we can do is hope for the best. I’ll be giving him 3 years like I do with everyone else.
Thanks Scott. A few thoughts:
1) if WR depth is our biggest problem, that would be fantastic. However, I think you nailed the safety issue as our biggest concern…I say give the Smith kid a chance, he can’t be any worse than McDougald….at least rotate him in there.
2) If we are going to add another WR, this year or in the draft (a little early to be talking about that one I suppose)…SPEED should be the requirement. I watched that Failcons-Phins game last night and the ATL DBs were constantly grabbing the MIA WRs as they ran right past them…we could use some of that.
3) Aguayo seems to have a case of the yips (see Chuck Naublauch, Tiger Woods)…I remember when Chuck had them at 2nd base for the Yankees. It was painful watching him throw error after error on routine ground balls. I’m not sure what the cure is – Chuck never seemed to find it, but Tiger maybe has…perhaps a few sessions with Tiger’s therapist would help.
Totally agree with EEB on the speed thing. I wanted Braxton Miller for his versatility and ability to change things up and run wildcat. But Oh wait, we traded up for a kicker!
What? I thought Bobby Richardson played second base for the Yankees.
Dye and Shephard are the 4 & 5 WR’s. There’s no need to carry 6 at the start of the season unless Jackson and Evans get injuried. Time for the other WR’s on the roster to do some special things and not just catch a pass. I still haven’t bought into Vitale yet; I hope he does well tonight in his blocking as it is his weakness. Go Bucs!
I would guess that there are going to be a few intriguing veteran WRs available after team start cutting down. It would be nice to see some veteran depth picked up for the WR position. I’m glad that Aguayo hit his slump in the preseason. I’m guessing that he’ll work his way out of it and move on. Great to see Ryan Smith stepping up as well!
Good job on this weeks fab 5 SR! One thing I would like to point out though is that Ryan Smith seems to me like the perfect body type and player for FS which is where Conte plays. I know people love to knock McDougald, but I have noticed that he is a sure tackler in the open field, he takes really good angles in pursuit and almost always brings down the ball carrier right away. He fits the mold of what a SS typically is. I doubt Ryan Smith will make ball carriers fear him for his tackling ability, but I haven’t seen enough of him in preseason against good players to know if he is a sure tackler or not. I have always been a fan of Bradley McDougald and think he could perform very well this year. Also am I mistaken, didn’t Bradley also used to play corner at Kansas then switched to safety in the NFL. Maybe Ryan Smith should be talking to him more about that!
Let’s go Bucs!!!!
I think Aguayo will be fine, but if continues to struggle and it lasts into the regular season where he becomes a liability we will absolutely bring in another kicker. Aguayo (and his fragile mentality) will just have to get over it. We carried a 3rd QB last season on the 53 who never dressed a game and carried Kadeem Edwards on the 53 in 2014 when he never dressed either. So I don’t see how you can say we couldn’t do the same w/ Aguayo this year if he struggles. Obviously it’s not ideal to carry 2 kickers, but let’s not pretend we will keep trotting him out there if he’s only making 50% of his kicks after the first few games.
Also, you’re FAB-1 could have been easier to follow as you jumped back and forth between Humphries and Dye and the Saints-Bears-Rams games.
Looking forward to the game tonight and keep up the great work.
I hope that either Dye, or Bell can take that next step in these next two preseason games. As it stands, we don’t really have anyone who is a speed threat that can stretch the field and keep opposing defenses honest. I don’t think any team we face this year will fear that coming from us. Unless one of these two faster WR’s can show this on tape. Sure Evans can do it to a certain extent, but I would really like to see us pick up a speedy veteran deep threat as a result of a cap casualty. I’m sure Licht will be looking.
I am bummed about Bell. This guy has so many talents and has one bad outing and he looks like he is about 24 hrs from being a security guard somewhere. Meanwhile we have a second round kicker who we gave up a third to move up to get who cannot kick even point afters with consistency. This draft class really took a nose dive. VHIII is thankfully looking very good. It seems Noah Spence is invisible. I wonder if he ends up on IR.
Don’t worry, someone else will pick up Bell. Aguayo will have to show some mental toughness. It’s possible, perhaps not likely, this will make him a better kicker ion the long run. Some meditation might help to relax him. Visualize, man. He has to believe he’s going to make every kick. Actually, I feel for him, but this is the NFL. He has to produce. It’s absurd to think that Licht didn’t go over every kick he ever tried in College. Sad to say, draft selection is not a science. Finally, too many people put to much emphasis on preseason. The first goal is to get to Game 1 with few or no injuries. Other than that, we’re not showing anything and neither are the other teams. We destroyed Cincinnati last season, ran up and down the field and what did it mean: nothing. Let’s just get to Game 1 and then start judging what we have or don’t have.
I am still confident in Aguayo and although I hated the pick on draft day we all just need to accept he is our kicker now and move on, no use looking back on it now. As for WR, I would love for us to get JuJu out of USC but hopefully our pick won’t be high enough to get him. I hope that we draft 2 or 3 WR in next years draft because once V-Jax is gone we are in a lot of trouble. Pamphlet is good depth on the o-line but I do not want him starting games for us, o-line is another position I believe should be targeted heavily in next years draft. I feel like this team just needs more depth and a few better starters (safety, WR, o-line) from being a legit contender. Go Bucs!
I wasn’t happy with the Aguayo pick either. But, it doesn’t matter now either way. He’s our kicker and he’s struggling. Bitching about the pick and looking at his stats now won’t help. Those who were booing him at a practice doesn’t help either. Yes, he’s a professional, but he’s also a 22-year-old kid who has kicked, albeit poorly, in two preseason games. Supporting him instead of booing him would help get over his “yips” or “shanks” (as in “Tin Cup”) will most likely make more of a positive impact.
I refuse to even look at the list of WRs for next years draft in pre season! Lol.
Here’s a couple tidbits. Bell sucks, and tired of talking about him. Afro Blunder not thunder. . Aguayo was a wasted pick and will bever be worth that pick. If I had to pick one WR I wish would step up would be Dye given his speed and size. Maybe if Winston can actually hit broad side of barn tonight we can actually evaluate some guys. 0-6 passing to start makes it hard to.
Shepard is pretty decent too. Beyond that who knows if any of them are worth keeping around. Hope Evans,Jackson, Jenkins stay healthy this year.
I wasn’t happy with the Aguayo pick either. But, it doesn’t matter now either way. He’s our kicker and he’s struggling. Bitching about the pick and looking at his stats from college won’t help. Those who were booing him at a practice didn’t help things either. Yes, he’s a professional, but he’s also a 22-year-old kid who has kicked, albeit poorly, in two preseason games. Supporting him instead of booing him would help Aguayo get over his “yips” or “shanks” (as in “Tin Cup”) will most likely make more of a positive impact. The man is our kicker for the foreseeable future. I think we need to deal with it and move on. It’s not his fault the Bucs traded up for him in the 2nd round. Let’s give the kid a break and have a bit more faith.
Another good Fab 5. I wonder who names a child speedy? Speedy Noils, hell I would draft him in the late rounds just for giggles. After watching the game tonite got me thinking about trading for Josh Gordon. Forgot how good he is, being a druggie and all.
Afro Blunder, now that is a good one. Bell needs to get his shit together for sure.
Please Mr Licht don’t draft a receiver named Mike Williams. Not only is his name Mike Williams he’s from Clemson. I defy anyone to tell me a player from Clemson that was any good.
Alls well with the kicker I suppose after last night. Not only did he make the kicks, they were good and straight. So I won’t freak out just yet.
I believe Humphries just grabbed the kick off job. Haven’t seen a punt return for a TD in awhile. Awesome.
Huge props for JW. Great game.
What is up with this Vitale kid? He has been MIA all preseason.
Now for my Kenny Bell rant. Get it together please. Maybe all that hair is messing you up. Afro Blunder, still chuckling on that or.
September 11 can’t get here fast enough.
@chetthevette – I’ll give you that the Clemson alumni list is not exactly star-packed….but I thought the irony of railing against Clemson in one sentence and following that with how happy you are about Adam Humphries was hilarious!
Did not know that AH was an Clemson alum. I stand corrected. GO BUCS
Mentioning Loiuis Murphy reminds me that whoever gets that #5 receiver slot in the preseason won’t get much to do once Murphy comes back from PUP. Murphy is just so much more effective than any of the youngsters. Hemight even unseat Humphries. Now that Dye is out with a hamstring tear, the best way for anyone else to impress as a 5th receiver is to shine returning kicks.
Just got around to reading this week’s Fab 5. Funny how all of the folks who bemoaned the selection of Roberto Aguayo are already in “I told you so” mode before our young draftee has even lined up in a regular season game. Looked OK to me in the Browns game. My goodness, some are even ready to write off Noah Spence as “invisible” when he’s been anything but disappear like the Johnsons who preceded him. I guess it’s no different than the chastising of Gerald McCoy, who, in spite of being one of our best players, still has critics unwilling to adjust their original conclusion.
I know this much; if there was an Olympic event where contenders jumped to conclusions, impatient football fans would win the gold medal. Perhaps there could also be a leap of faith event for those of us who are willing to give the rookies a little time to develop.
Once again thanks for the ORIGINAL information that I can’t find anywhere else. I appreciate the heads up on some college receivers as I’m not a big college fan so this helps me to get aquainted with some receivers to follow and watch for during the college season. Whether we draft one or not. I also loved how you got some of the Bucs players to give their opinions on players they played with or against in college, great insight!. Lastly, I appreciate the FAB 3 on Ryan Smith. I have been looking to read or here something on him all camp and sure enough you came through with a great read on him. Thanks again for all you do to make sure your readers know what’s really going on in Bucs Camp. I’m ready for the Regular Season! Go Bucs!
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