It’s official. Football is back. Even better, Buccaneers football is back.
After a long offseason where talks of the Buccaneers being a contender ran rapid, words can finally become actions. Don’t get it twisted, the players are just as anxious to prove they are for real, albeit just the beginning of training camp. The first practice open to the public provided a window for the Buccaneers to back up all the positive things said about them all offseason.
Buccaneers Training Camp Takeaways
Jameis Winston Appears Poised for Improvement This Season
Gerald McCoy said it best in this clip….
His play throughout two seasons has gone well in it’s own right, but Jameis seems to have mid-season focus already in his self proclaimed “quest for perfection”. It didn’t take long for Winston to settle in, and he threw multiple balls hard and accurate early and often. Besides one overthrow, Winston looked good, and gave the crowd in attendance pleanty to cheer about. The crowd takes me to my next point….
The Home Crowd is Pumped For This Season
With Hard Knocks and NFL Network in the house along with many local media members, it would be easy to call all the outside noise a distraction. If anything was a distraction on this opening day to the public, it was the intensity radiating from the stands. Much louder than last year, it appears the home crowd is behind the 2017 squad and the potential they have to be contenders this season.
If Day One Was Any Indication, J.J. Wilcox is the Odd Man Out
Granted it’s day one, but after the departure of Bradley McDougald this offseason, J.J. Wilcox was supposed to be the answer to one of the weaker parts of the Buccaneers defense from a year ago. Problem is when the first team defense took the field, Wilcox was nowhere to be be found. The first team defense featured Chris Conte and Keith Tandy.
It would appear that Tandy and Wilcox will be battling it out for the second safety spot, with Tandy holding the edge. Tandy has been a member of the Buccaneers since 2012, so he has the defense down. Tandy also enjoyed a great second half last year, which is one of the reasons he is competing for a starting role this season. There was only one interception thrown today. The beneficiary? Yep Keith Tandy.
Cameron Brate Isn’t Willing To Give Up His Starting Job Easily
There is a lot of hype behind the Buccaneers’ first round draft pick and rightfully so. The potential of a 6’6″ 251 pound tight end that can run a 4.51 40 pretty much speaks for itself. As great of a weapon has Howard seemingly will be for Jamesis, his counterpart, Cameron Brate, reminded everyone in attendance that he still has visions of seeing his name listed as TE1 on the depth chart. Brate was moving well and made some tough catches, the kind of catches that a quarterback latches onto. Brate has worked hard to climb from the practice squad to the top of the depth chart since he went undrafted in 2014, and is about to let a little (or huge if we are talking about Howard) thing like a first round draft pick stand his way now .
Defense Heated Up As Practice Went On
Early on the offense clearly had the upper hand as the Buccaneers ran team drills. The tide seemed to change as the day moved on, as the defense begin to take better routes to the ball. The defense caused two turnovers, one by Gerald McCoy stripping Jamesis Winston (he later said that would earn him a trip to the principal’s office) and another on a Keith Tandy interception from the hand of backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Overall, the defense showed they are hungry and ready to show the world they are better than the product put on the field in 2016.
Make no mistake about it, the 2017 NFL season is quickly drawing upon us, and the Buccaneers seem to be in a good place to prove their worth on the field early on.