New Tampa Bay Bucs wideout DeSean Jackson suited up Tuesday and quarterback Jameis Winston was eager to send the ball his way.
Winston targeted Jackson plenty throughout Tuesday afternoon’s muggy mandatory mini-camp, with mostly positive results.
Bucs WR DeSean Jackson – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs’ first-team offense wrapped up the day’s final period of 11-on-11’s with an underthrown deep ball to Jackson that second-year cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III stepped in front of and intercepted.
The play came about an hour after the Winston-to-Jackson connection fans have been hearing about was put on display. Working the right sideline this time, Jackson beat cornerback Brent Grimes and Winston hit the speedy 30-year-old in stride for a clean touchdown. Throwing it up and letting Jackson go get it is something the front office has touted since the receiver’s March signing and what fans are expecting to see integrated into this year’s offense.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter spoke to the media after practice and said Jackson’s elite speed isn’t going to change what plays the offense runs – it’ll change how it runs them.
“The playbook, not so much,” Koetter said. “But hopefully it affects the execution of the plays. That’s really what matters. Players make plays. Everybody’s got a playbook, but players make plays. The ball doesn’t have to be perfect. If a guy can run fast enough to track it down or if a guy’s big enough to get an errant throw too high or too low. So guys with exceptional skill and talent, they can make up for things that don’t look as clean from the quarterback or the protection.”
While no interceptions are good interceptions for any quarterback, the Hargreaves pick can function as a practice field lesson for Winston. The defense brought pressure and Winston didn’t get enough on his delivery. Even though Hargreaves did have Jackson covered well, there is one place that attempt can’t be thrown and it’s where Winston put it. Jackson would have put up a better effort to play DB in a game situation – hopefully – so who knows how this would have played out had it been Week 1 of the regular season and not Day 1 of mini-camp.
Many of Tuesday’s deep-ball attempts were on double-move routes the offense is installing currently, Koetter said, when asked to evaluate Jackson’s day on the field. Winston and top backup Ryan Fitzpatrick were seen going Jackson’s way all over the field on crossing routes, quick outs, slants, etc.
Bucs WR DeSean Jackson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“That’s a play package that we just put in today, a double move,” Koetter said. “The thing about those double moves, when you just put something in, you’re trying to rep it with all three groups. You can’t rep it too much. These guys get smart after the defense sees it more than once. I think we ran it three times today – had the one beautiful play for the touchdown, Hargreaves did intercept one. They were under pressure on that one that got intercepted. Jameis would’ve taken a pretty good hit on that, might even have been sacked. He was just trying to get it out.”
Since Jackson didn’t participate in portions of last week’s voluntary organized team activities, his practice time with Winston and against defensive backs is still minimal. Those increased reps will not only help his chemistry with Winston, but give Bucs cornerbacks time against a three-time Pro Bowl receiver with 8,819 yards and 46 touchdowns on his resume.
“I think that’ll be something that’ll play itself out more in training camp,” Koetter said. “One thing I can promise you is we’ve had nobody on our team with that kind of speed. Those DBs, they’re shocked every time at how much DeSean can run by them.”
According to Winston, Jackson isn’t rushing anything and his style is appreciated.
“When you see him on the field he just looks at ease,” Winston said. “He’s laid back, he’s comfortable in his own body, and that’s how we all got to be – just comfortable in every situation not matter the circumstance.”