The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now officially on HBO’s 2017 edition of Hard Knocks, which will chronicle their training camp journey.
So what will HBO’s cameras focus on? And which storylines will they try to produce? Let’s look at five likely focal points.
Jameis Winston’s improvement
This will be the obvious storyline throughout training camp. Not only is he a young quarterback who should continue to improve, and that always makes for some interesting Hard Knocks footage, Winston also has a gregarious personality and loves the camera. Winston’s had a lot of excited but odd moments on camera that play really well with fans, and that’s when he didn’t have cameras on him all the time.
Also, he’ll have to learn to work with DeSean Jackson. That’ll be interesting.
That said, Winston will also be a draw for another reason: a lot of people hate Winston, stemming mostly from that time he was accused of rape in college. That accusation didn’t lead to any official charges, and he and his accuser settled a civil suit earlier this year.
The Bucs will hope that Winston’s personality and perhaps some focus on the charity work he does will make some people see him in a different light.
Doug Martin’s return from rehab
The Bucs’ star running back is coming off an awful season, will serve a three-game suspension to start the season, went into rehab at the start of the year and will have to fight for his roster spot, potentially with a draft pick. While this probably won’t be enjoyable for Martin, he’ll likely be the focus of a lot of Hard Knocks.
The offensive line shuffle
The Bucs won’t have a lot of out-and-out competitions in training camp this year, but one will be interesting: what the offensive line will look like. The Bucs have seven or eight players who could start, including J.R. Sweezy who missed all of last year with a back injury. Which five will earn starting jobs, and at which positions? Good fodder for a TV show.
Roberto Aguayo vs. Nick Folk
The Bucs drafted Aguayo in the second round last year to be their kicker, and that turned out to be a massive disappointment. Aguayo was one of the least accurate kickers in the NFL and didn’t hit a single field goal over 43 yards all season long. While he improved in the second half of the year and his kickoffs were solid throughout, that’s not exactly what you want out of a second-round kicker.
So this year, the Bucs signed veteran Nick Folk to compete with him. That’ll be interesting to see: will they be prepared to move on from the most highly drafted kicker since Sebastian Janikowski? Or will they be saved from that embarrassment by an Aguayo resurgence?
(thanks to a few folks on Twitter for pointing this out as a potential storyline)
The first-round pick
We don’t even know who this will be, but whoever the Bucs draft in the first round will be the focus of a lot of attention. Not just because he’ll be a prominent name, but because coaches will be investing a little extra time in him to get him up to speed, and because he’ll be very talented and will show some flashes of dominance — I hope.
Some random undrafted rookie
Every year, there’s one undrafted rookie who gets a lot of attention from Hard Knocks. Sometimes, those rookies make the roster. Sometimes they get cut at the last moment. They always struggle a little, and then they make some strides, and then they suffer a setback, and then it’s all down to the ten snaps or so they’ll get in some preseason game.
Cool beans. Can’t wait to see how it ends.