I know all of you out there in Buc Nation have been getting bombarded with training camp articles and updates, so hopefully you’re not sick of them yet. If you’re like me, that’s not possible. I can never get too much information about my favorite team. However for the fans that don’t live locally, the out-of-state fans and the fans from other countries, the inside info about our Buccaneers may not be so easily accessible or readily available. So hopefully I can help some of them out with my Top 10 takeaways from camp so far in this first week. Here we go!
#1. The new indoor facility is awesome, but it’s not quite big enough for Bryan Anger’s mule leg. On Thursday during the “pass members only” practice, he hit the rafters on multiple occasions with some booming punts that were met with cheers from the fans present. “It’s turned into the Buccaneers version of Tropicana Field” according to Pewter Report’s Trevor Sikkema.
#2. The new defensive line looks like it’s going to be disruptive. Even though some of the o-line like Ryan Jensen, Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith have been holding their own for the most part, the Bucs d-line has been having it’s way in camp so far. McCoy looks revitalized. JPP is as good as advertised. Spence has been looking like a man possessed so hopefully he can stay healthy. Curry, Allen, and Unrein are workhorses. The only disappointing thing I’ve seen or heard about this line is that Gholston has had a bad camp so far, but hopefully he can snap out of that soon. Other than that, I am stoked about this d-line and the possibilities of what they’ll be able to do this season.
#3. The new secondary looks promising. Grimes and Hargreaves have missed some practices, so it’s given the young rookies Davis and Stewart more time working with the first team defense and they haven’t disappointed. Davis is being physical in press coverage and even giving Evans a run for his money. Stewart has been impressive playing both outside and inside at nickel. Ryan Smith has even looked good so far. But it’s not just the corners, the safeties have looked good too. Conte has had a few picks (Don’t hate!). Evans has looked more comfortable in his second camp. The rookie Jordan Whitehead even has a couple of interceptions. The secondary looks like it will be much better and if the front seven can start pressuring opposing QB’s then it will only help that much more.
#4. The rookie running backs Ronald Jones and Shaun Wilson are fast. Like really fast. Jones will almost certainly make this roster, but Wilson’s role is still surrounded with some uncertainty. If he can impress enough as a kick returner, then it would definitely increase his chances of making this team. I’m pulling for this kid because he’s got speed as a RB that we haven’t seen here in Tampa in a long time, if ever. Jones has had a few issues with ball security fumbling a couple of times and dropping a pass here and there. He’s also struggling with pass protection as most rookies do. But he’ll be fine. Koetter emphasizes “explosive plays” all the time and Jones is an explosive play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. He and Barber will be a really nice committee in the Bucs backfield this year.
#5. There’s no shortage of pass-catching talent on this roster. Evans looks like he’s ready to take that next step into NFL “elite” status. Jackson has a year in this offense and more chemistry with Fitz and Jameis as shown by the multiple deep balls that have been perfectly dropped into his hands in stride so far. Godwin looks like a monster and I’m expecting BIG things from him this year. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see more three-wide formations with Evans and Godwin outside and Jackson in the slot just to get him on the field more often. Hump is being the same sure-handed, reliable Hump as always. The rookie Justin Watson got off to a bit of a slow start in camp, but he’s starting to get things rolling a bit. He adds some good size and great speed to this group. Reedy, Martino and Wilson will be in the mix to make the 53-man roster as well. As for the tight ends, Brate is being Brate and Howard looks like a man amongst boys out there this year. Even though it’s a lot of the same names as last season, these guys should give opposing defenses fits and cause a ton of mismatches on the field.
#6. YAY, there is NOT a kicking battle in camp this year. Sorry Trevor Moore, but Catanzaro has this job locked down.
#7. Chris Conte will be the starting strong safety for this team. I hate to disappoint all the Conte haters out there, but he’s having a really good camp so far and this improved d-line should make his job easier and make him look even better.
#8. Noah Spence is DOMINATING! If his shoulder can hold up and he can stay healthy, he is going to have a huge year. The Bucs haven’t had a player with 10+ sacks since Simeon Rice in 2005 and Spence has a legitimate chance at blowing past that mark this season. So far, it looks as though he’s going to be a situational pass rusher on this defense which is going to keep him fresh throughout the game. That means that if the Bucs are winning late in the game and the opposing team is in obvious passing situations, a rested Spence will be lining up against some tired and worn down offensive tackles in the fourth quarter. And that’s a mismatch all day long!
#9. Kwon looks like he’s on a mission this season. He’s been waiting over 7 months to hit somebody and it showed on the first day in full pads when he hit rookie RB Ronald Jones pretty hard and forced a fumble. He’s ready to roll this year and I think he and David are both going to have a big year playing behind that improved d-line.
#10. Fitz looks better than Jameis so far. Now don’t get it twisted, Jameis is no doubt the best QB on this team and Fitzpatrick will be his backup when he comes back from his suspension. But Winston has not impressed me AT ALL during these first two weeks. He looks distracted or preoccupied, which is somewhat understandable given his current situation. I just hope that he snaps out of it by Week 4. On the flip side, Fitz looking good is a positive thing. Dirk Koetter said that the team has total faith in him and that they won’t miss a beat with him leading the way for those first three games. With the way he’s looked so far in camp, I’m starting to believe him.
Well, there you go. Just a small list of the major things that I’ve seen and heard from camp so far. Of course, things can change in an instant, especially due to injuries. Grimes and Hargreaves have missed some time. Dotson is still working his way back. Now Caleb Benenoch appears to be hurt so now the rookie Alex Cappa is getting first-team reps at right guard. Freddie Martino has missed a few days and he’s a guy fighting for one of those WR spots so that could affect his chances. Kendell Beckwith is still not practicing. Vita Vea is still wearing a boot and out of practice, but he seems to be walking around on it just fine. Each day in camp presents a new scenario or different situation, so we here at WTB will try to keep you informed and up-to-date whenever something happens. I’ll be back in a week or so with my takeaways from Week 2 of camp.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!