FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• Nothing against Will Gholston or former Bucs defensive end Robert Ayers, Jr., but the addition of new defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry have really helped Tampa Bay’s tackles and tight ends improve their blocking. Pierre-Paul brings freakish ability and an amazing blend of strength and speed, while Curry brings quickness, power and determination.
“JPP is the flashier player, but Vinny’s a great player, too,” Bucs tight end O.J. Howard said. “He brings that mentality to play hard and he knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl – he did it last year. So whenever you have a guy that comes to your team that year after winning a Super Bowl, you have to take what he says and try to run with it because he knows what it takes to become a Super Bowl Champion. I think Vinny comes out and works hard every day.”
Howard and the Bucs’ trench players on offense know they have their hands full with a revamped defensive line that also includes three new tackles in Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein and first-round pick Vita Vea. Those three interior linemen bring sheer power, while defensive ends like JPP and Noah Spence brings raw speed off the edge. In just one offseason, Tampa Bay’s defensive line has been rebuilt and features a host of talented players with a myriad of ability.
“It says a lot about the position that we play as tight ends, how much studying we have to do, how much you have to know about your opponents,” Howard said. “Being able to look at all of those guys, they’re different players, and you’ll be able to see guys like that all year long, so to get that in practice every day it’ll only help me get better for when we play those players.”
• It’s great that the Buccaneers went up to Nashville and soundly beat the Titans on their practice field in two joint practices this past week. Do you know what it means? Absolutely nothing – although this video of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul making Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan – one of the best in the game – look silly is quite amazing.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 15, 2018
Tampa Bay did the same thing at Jacksonville last year and the Bucs starters even had their way with the Jaguars in their preseason clash. But which team had the better season? With HBO’s Hard Knocks cameras rolling, Tampa Bay was picked to be an upstart playoff team while Jacksonville seemed destined for hard knocks of its own during Doug Marrone’s first season leading the Jaguars. Instead, the Bucs underwhelmed and underachieved, going 5-11, while the Jags were the surprise team in the AFC, winning the South division with a 10-6 record.
You’d rather see the Bucs perform well in joint practices and get the better of their opponent rather than the other way around, but when the 2018 campaign concludes and we look back at what transpired in Nashville this week – or even in the game on Saturday – it will likely have any real bearing on how the season transpired because neither Tampa Bay nor Tennessee is a finished product in mid-August.
• On the heels of Tony Dungy’s Bucs Ring of Honor induction press conference, we had former Bucs guard Ian Beckles join PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook and Trevor Sikkema and myself as our special guest to talk about Dungy’s success in Tampa, as well as Beckles’ thoughts about playing for both Dungy and Jon Gruden, who was Beckles’ offensive coordinator in Philadelphia in 1997. The outspoken Beckles offered up a good mix of humor, analysis and sharp criticism of a certain Buccaneers player in Ep 88 Blast From The Past (With Ian Beckles). DO NOT MISS THIS PODCAST. It’s one of the best ones we’ve ever done, and we thank Beckles for appearing.
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• Although third-year cornerback Ryan Smith continues to struggle in coverage in both practice and in the preseason opener, don’t think that he is going to be released. Smith is one of the team’s top special teams players, especially as a gunner on the punt team. It takes young cornerbacks time to develop, especially a player like Smith from a small school like North Carolina Central, as Bucs legend Ronde Barber mentioned in last week’s SR’s Fab 5.
The Bucs aren’t going to give up on Smith right now, especially given his physical tools. Smith is 6-foot, 190 pounds and is one of the fastest players. He’s likely the fifth-best cornerback on the roster behind Brent Grimes, Vernon Hargreaves III and rookies Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, and that’s okay because the Bucs need five cornerbacks. And if a cornerback is that far down the depth chart he needs to be a stud on special teams, and that’s what Smith is.
• We get to see the debut of Bucs rookie running back Shaun Wilson on Saturday night in Nashville. Wilson missed the preseason opener due to an injury, but continues to “wow” the coaching staff when he’s on the field. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Wilson had some bright spots in pass protection drills this week in Tennessee, which is key as he is trying to win a roster spot as a third-down back and receiver out of the backfield, in addition to the kick and punt returner duties.
In the first 1-on-1, #Bucs RB Shaun Wilson puts LB Brandon Chubb on the ground in pass protection. Also let him know about it afterwards…
“Yessir! Yessir!” pic.twitter.com/LQhQeMoJWt
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) August 15, 2018
“He’s looking sharp” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said of Wilson. “Obviously you don’t like to see a guy miss time when he’s banged up, but Shaun should get his first action Saturday night and we’re excited to see what he can do.”
From what I’ve been told, Wilson will have to suddenly plummet over the next couple of weeks to not make the 53-man roster. The Bucs are pretty high on him. Hopefully he’ll have a better debut than fellow rookie running back Ronald Jones did last week when he rushed for nine yards and a touchdown on eight carries and dropped a pass. Tampa Bay is looking for Jones, who caught the ball better in practice this week, to bounce back in Saturday’s preseason game against the Titans.
• Like most young position coaches, Skyler Fulton has aspirations of moving up the coaching ladder from Tampa Bay’s wide receivers coach to be an offensive coordinator or perhaps even a head coach one day. As I said earlier in this week’s SR’s Fab 5, there is something special about Fulton’s coaching style and the way he connects with his players. Fulton knows that he is in an ideal situation to learn how to call plays being around the likes of head coach Dirk Koetter and offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
“I’ve been so blessed to be in the position I’ve been in with Monk and Coach Koetter, and even (quarterbacks) Coach (Mike) Bajakian, and to be able to sit and really just focus on trying to be the best receiving coach in the NFL – I’m not saying I am – but that’s just my perspective,” Fulton said. “Obviously I don’t have as much experience as some of the other coaches of receivers, but I believe I have some tools that they don’t have. So to have a guy like Monk or Dirk that technically can watch all the things that our receivers are doing and stay on me and coach at the same time as me, I obviously get those guys to bring the energy. I can hold those players accountable and catch some of the little things they need to work on. So that standpoint is an ideal situation for me, and with our quality control guy Zack Grossi, Monk, Dirk and myself, having some say on the receivers, whether it’s splits, or routes, or techniques – it’s awesome because I feel like they really put me in a position to play my strengths as a coach, and they’re playing to their strengths as coaches, and it leads to a lot of production for us as a team.
• I know my friend and colleague Tom Jones, the lead sports columnist for the Tampa Bay Times, has written several anti-Jameis Winston columns over the summer after his three-game suspension was reported. Winston has suggested that the Bucs get rid of Winston due to his character concerns, but knows that’s not the team’s plan.
This week’s column is about Winston and Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was selected one spot behind Winston second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Which QB would Jones pick if he had the call? The answer may surprise you. Check out this fair, well-written column.
• PewterReport.com has official partnerships with WFLA News Channel 8 and 620 WDAE that started during Bucs training camp. The PewterReport.com staff appears on News Channel 8 and the WFLA.com sports website regularly with insight and analysis from Bucs camp, as well as in-studio appearances on News Channel 8’s Bucs Bonus Show Sunday nights after the 11:00 p.m. newscast. Pewter Report’s Trevor Sikkema traveled to Tennessee to cover the Bucs – Titans joint practices and filed this report with WFLA’s Dan Lucas.
I will be on the Sunday Bucs Bonus show on News Channel 8 at 11:35 p.m. ET with Lucas and Annie Sabo on Sunday recapping the Bucs’ game against the Titans from Saturday night. Make sure you tune in for my insight and analysis on the Bucs’ second preseason game before they battle the Detroit Lions in the preseason home opener next Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.
• PewterReport.com’s regularly scheduled appearances on 620 WDAE continue with Mark Cook joining J.P. Peterson on-air today (Friday) at 4:30 p.m. I’ll be on Monday morning with Ronnie and TKras reviewing the Bucs vs. Titans preseason game. Here is the schedule of the remaining PewterReport.com appearances during Bucs camp:
Friday August 17 – Mark Cook w/JP (4:30pm)
Monday August 20 – Scott Reynolds w/Ronnie & TKras (8:15am)
Friday August 24 – Trevor Sikkema w/JP (4:30pm)
Monday August 27 – Mark Cook w/Ronnie & TKras (8:15am)
Friday August 31 – Scott Reynolds w/JP (4:30pm)
Tuesday September 4 – Trevor Sikkema w/Ronnie & TKras (8:15am)
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