The Bucs had their first day off since reporting for training camp at One Buccaneer Place on Wednesday. The first two days saw Tampa Bay take the practice field in shorts, jerseys and helmets before the shoulder pads came on Saturday. On Sunday, the final practice before a much-needed day off, the players were in full pads for the first time.
With the first week of training camp in the books, each member of the PewterReport.com staff has compiled his list of the top 5 most impressive Buccaneers in camp thus far and offered up some analysis to support each pick.
PewterReport.com Publisher Scott Reynolds
Table of Contents
1. WR Mike Evans
Evans has clearly been the most impressive and consistent offensive player at the start of Bucs camp. His focus is on another level this year and no one I’ve spoken with has seen him drop a pass in warm-ups, individual drills, 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. Simply put, he looks like a veteran Pro Bowl receiver. It appears as if he’s reached the level that former Bucs veterans wide receivers like Vincent Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell. Throw him the ball and it’s an automatic reception. Evans has dominated the likes of Brent Grimes and Ryan Smith at the start of Bucs camp. Just pray that he doesn’t suffer a camp hamstring injury as he’s had in years past.
2. DE Jason Pierre-Paul
I tweeted it out on Sunday – Pierre-Paul is the closest thing the Bucs have had to Simeon Rice on defense since Rice last played for Tampa Bay in 2005. Pierre-Paul has a freakish blend of size, strength and speed to go along with his polished pass rush moves. He’ll see plenty of time at right defensive end in base defense and then move inside to play defensive tackle alongside Gerald McCoy to get situational pass rusher Noah Spence on the field. JPP has been just as unblockable inside as he has been on the edge.
Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
3. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Although Jameis Winston is suspended for the first three games, the Bucs appear to be in good hands with Fitzpatrick at the helm. Fitzpatrick has looked sharp and steady at the start of Bucs camp, distributing the ball evenly to Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. The Bucs need him to be a point guard during the first three weeks and get the ball to his playmakers. Fitzpatrick has done just that and Dirk Koetter’s offense has been humming out of the gate.
4. LB Lavonte David
I spoke with David at the start of Bucs training camp about Mike Smith using him more as a blitzer on third down this year and that appears to be what’s happening. At 234 pounds, David is bigger this year and ready to build on last year’s numbers in which he recorded 101 tackles with five forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and a touchdown. He’s off to a fast start in training camp and seems primed to have a big year if he can stay healthy.
5. RT Leonard Wester
It’s easy for me to put Gerald McCoy in the top 5 because he’s been so dominant, but I’m going to go with Wester just to highlight him for a minute. Wester hasn’t necessarily been one of the top five Buccaneers at the start of training camp, but he’s impressed me with how much he’s improved this offseason. Even though Demar Dotson has been cleared to practice, Tampa Bay has held him out of 11-on-11 periods as well as 1-on-1 pass rush periods to start camp. That has allowed Wester to continue to work with the first-string and he’s more than held his own. Wester has had tremendous reps against the likes of Vinny Curry and Will Gholston and was looking good until suffering a leg injury at the end of Sunday’s padded practice. Obviously, the team is hoping that he isn’t seriously hurt.
Click the next page to see Mark Cook’s Top 5 Most Impressive Bucs
Scott Reynolds is in his 27th 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 coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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