Jul 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson (56) and defensive end Da

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp Report, 8/2: Defense Wins the Day

Yesterday, on the first of the month, it was the offense that was out earning their paychecks with an impressive performance in individual and team drills. But the defense bounced back on Friday morning at One Buc Place, and controlled scrimmages with their coverage and pass rush ability.

The main culprit for the Buccaneers’ defense, the man who stands out the most and is always active, is defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Thoughts of him not being big enough after losing weight this offseason should be cast aside, as the man from Oklahoma is winning every “Oklahoma drill” in scrimmages and individual practices. He is a one-man wrecking crew in the middle of the defense, and is going to be an impact player for the Buccaneers this season. If the team was playing a real game, and not practicing in shorts, McCoy would have had multiple sacks and tackles for loss today.

The other defensive linemen showed well today, too. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Da’Quan Bowers, and even William Gholston all had flashes of brilliance that I was able to catch as I watched on from the sideline. Here’s what else I saw today at camp:

  • Josh Freeman continued to be on point, and when he did miss the occasional throw, he was missing them “safely.” In other words, he wasn’t underthrowing passes that could be picked off, he was overthrowing and making smart throws. He has looked sharp this week, and has impressed many writers and media members. The fans, however, aren’t convinced, as many people around me in the stands were talking quite negatively about Freeman, and even calling for Mike Glennon to start.  As they say on Twitter… “Welp.”
  • Chris Owusu and Eric Page continue to stand out in the battle for a roster spot at wide receiver. With Tiquan Underwood unable to take to the field due to injury, these backup receivers have used their opportunities well. Owusu made an excellent leaping catch in the end zone in red zone drills, and Page made a fantastic diving grab in two-minute drill practice. I would not be surprised to see these two receivers and Kevin Ogletree all make the roster, possibly at the expense of Underwood. But Tiquan has an experience edge, and will be back on the field eventually, so there’s still quite the battle to watch unfold in this camp competition.
  • The team did some pass protection drills for tight ends and running backs, and Tom Crabtree stood out in his ability to hold off Dekoda Watson on his way to the fake quarterback. But he was quickly outdone by Doug Martin, who absolutely embarrassed a rushing linebacker, not allowing him anywhere near the goal.
  • To follow-up on the previous point, Doug Martin is ready. He’s an incredible athlete and it shows, he can’t go “half speed” in walk-throughs and drills. He goes full speed, all the time, and looks a gear ahead of everyone on the field.
  • Many writers, including our friends at JoeBucsFan, pointed out that the running back hierarchy is beginning to take shape, and it’s Mike James who is getting the most second team reps, with Brian Leonard also figuring in to the mix. Peyton Hillis and Mike Smith are both lagging behind, if their usage at camp is any indication.
  • Rashaan Melvin has been taking advantage of the injuries at his position in a major way. So much so that he’s ascended to being the number one corner with the first team on occasion, lined up against Vincent Jackson in some red zone and two-minute drills. Leonard Johnson tends to spend his time on the inside, covering slot corners to prepare for the time he’ll spend as a nickel defender in 2013, so Melvin has ascended from “not even the best undrafted rookie corner on the team” to “first team, first corner, covering the best receiver on the field.” Absolutely meteoric rise for the young man.
  • Sean Baker is an active player on defense, and seems to have carved out the backup “Mark Barron” role on defense. He plays closer to the line and patrols the middle of the field, and had multiple pass breakups today, including one that was tipped for an interception to end practice. With Cody Grimm‘s offseason troubles, and Keith Tandy working as a nickel corner, Baker seems to be shining in his opportunity at strong safety, or whatever the Mark Barron position is called when the team has three safeties on the field.

That’s it for what I saw today. My attendance at camp from here on out will be sporadic, but I will be sure to pass along any news and information I get from Buccaneers training camp all the way up through the regular season.

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