Another day in full pads, here are some quick highlights from Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp.
Injury news out of the way early, the usual suspects – J.R. Sweezy, Louis Murphy, and Elijah Shumate – all missed practice. Caleb Benenoch missed his second day in a row with an ankle injury, this time sporting a hard cast rather than the walking boot.
All the buzz today was around the Buccaneers’ defense. They, according to many, appear to be ahead of the offense in terms of overall play. The kept the pressure on Jameis Winston all day long and created quite a few turnovers. Cornerback Alterraun Verner made a couple of big plays as he continues to work with the first team defense;
Noah Spence joined in the fun as well, playing big early on in camp;
Offensive coordinator and receivers coach Todd Monken joined 620 WDAE radio and spoke about Mike Evans. His main message was that Evans’ drops are a product of the expectations he has for himself. He told Ronnie Lane and Tom Krasniqi that “Nobody puts more pressure on Mike than he does”. His constant work with Jameis is to continue to get better and focus on catching the ball, as many of his mistakes are a result of the mental pressure he sets on himself.
Vernon Hargreaves got some time with the first teamers today, but also got beat a few times by wide receiver Evan Spencer with the second team,
Despite the defensive show put on today, there was a minor brawl this morning after Gerald McCoy got into the backfield to blow a play up.
A few other notes: the center battle between Joe Hawley and Evan Smith continues to heat up as this looks to be more than just a fake battle to try and elevate Smith’s play. These two are truly neck and neck at the position as it stands. As much as most fans like Hawley to remain the starter, this battle looks to be long lasting through training camp.
Cameron Brate also appears to be taking over as the top tight end over Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Brate has gotten a lot of first team reps and the comfort Winston has with Brate on the field will likely play into that going forward. We talked about the possibility, and probability, that Brate could be the week one starter at tight end unless Seferian-Jenkins can really step his game up. Here is what Dirk Koetter had to say, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times
"“I don’t think it’s any big secret that Cam’s been working with the first group,” Koetter said. “We’re deep at tight end and Cam’s at the top of the depth right now. (Seferian-Jenkins) is working hard, working at it. Austin’s trying to get better every day. … Austin’s working at it and that’s all he can do right now. He’s just got to work. That’s all anybody that’s fighting for a job can do. The guys that are playing the best are going to play.”"
Overall, another great day of camp. No injuries and another great showing by the defense. The defense is one of the biggest keys to the season. We know what the Buccaneers’ offense can do, but it’s up to the defense to show vast improvement compared to the last few seasons. Under Mike Smith, they appear to be doing just that.