Editor’s note: Please welcome Riley Auman to the Bucs Nation team!
Training camp opened for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today, and will be documented by HBO’s Hard Knocks TV show. The crew was shooting footage and did a great job of capturing the atmosphere of what training camp is like, whether from the stands with the fans or the competition that is brought out in players in the preseason. I was able to be in attendance for today’s practice in the stands and was able to shoot a good amount of the video, so I’ll highlight some of the biggest plays and most noticeable things about what I saw today.
Cornerback Robert McClain
McClain was brought in by the Bucs to compete for the nickel corner job with the likes of Javien Elliott and Jude Adjei-Barimah, and certainly outplayed the other two with his performance today. One of the biggest things I look for in players is their ability to talk smack and play with confidence, and McClain certainly did that today. On several plays I noticed his physicality (albeit without pads currently) and his ability to set the tone of the play from the snap.
Robert McClain, competing for nickel job, does a good job of getting in the receiver's hip pocket and breaking it up here. #Bucs pic.twitter.com/ZLDNziCtMO— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) July 28, 2017
McClain does a good job of keeping himself balanced off the line of scrimmage and although he allows the receiver to create some separation when he breaks on the slant, McClain recovers and is able to knock the ball out when the receiver doesn’t expect it. He gets up and celebrates too, which you have to appreciate.
PICK SIX BABY pic.twitter.com/hVfRAO2vDM— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) July 28, 2017
This throw is pretty simple to break down. Fitzpatrick telegraphs this throw from the snap, something he’s struggled with his entire career, and doesn’t put enough zip on it when he does throw it. McClain baits him, watching the quarterback’s eyes from the snap and is able to jump in front of the pass where he can catch it in stride and run it back for what would have been six in an actual game. He puts some moves on the receivers on his way there, too, which I like to see.
Overall, McClain just stood out. He did all the little things right and will have a chance to do even more at the next practice tomorrow.
Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson
Jackson was the team’s biggest free agent acquisition this offseason, and while he is one of the most dangerous deep threats in football on the field, I think what allows him to get inside defensive backs’ heads and beat them on a snap to snap basis is his confidence, how much of a chirper he is.
Jameis to Jackson on the comeback route and the fans go crazy #Bucs pic.twitter.com/CCnXeaKGMa— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) July 28, 2017
This play is easy money for Jackson. Because he’s so explosive, running comeback and curl routes with his man playing in off coverage is just too easy. Once he plants his foot in his break, the corner has no choice but to just play damage control.
DeSean brings such an energetic to the WR core. Fans are absolutely loving it. pic.twitter.com/2SwLUkqY9P— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) July 28, 2017
This next play really just embodies what I said DeSean brings to the team. Even if it’s just a simple out route on a warm-up play, Jackson’s energy really just gets the fan base excited and hyped up. That provides just as much value in the overall game as his deep speed.
Jackson proved he was exactly what I thought he was when the team signed him—one of the most explosive players in the league. Jackson will continue to impress and attempt to live up to the hype that he and Mike Evans have garnered since he signed on with the team.
Wide Receiver Chris Godwin
Godwin was a standout player at the team’s OTAs earlier this year and the 84th overall pick in the NFL Draft continued to show out today. Mike Evans said at yesterday’s presser that he credits Godwin for only being 6’1” having a great combination of speed (4.42 at the NFL Combine) and great 50/50 ball option. Godwin also showed that he can be a good route runner today, though.
Chris Godwin with the circus catch off a deflection: pic.twitter.com/q5pBGma8Pn— PewterReport (@PewterReport) July 28, 2017
This play could have gone disastrously wrong in a game with a deflection by the defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage. But Godwin, to his credit, adjusted for the deflected ball in the air and made a very nice play after bobbling it. It might be harder to see Godwin’s true impact as an outside receiver until the pads come on due to the fact that players are generally holding back and not hitting too hard, but once they are, Godwin will show out even more.
Video: Bucs rookie receiver Chris Godwin runs a post route and makes a clean catch at today's #Bucs practice. pic.twitter.com/937q5Xju7V— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) July 28, 2017
The next play here is just a simple warmup play, but I think if Godwin continues to make plays like these in game as a route runner, he’ll see his usage go up quickly.
All in all, I liked what I was able to see from the team on Day 1. Hard Knocks will be interesting to see in how it shows what the team does since they have an insider perspective, but the team exuded confidence and excitement today, but I like that players have stayed humble and said that they haven’t won anything yet and don’t need to get ahead of themselves. Day 2 of camp is tomorrow and will start at the same time as today at 8:45 AM EST, with gates opening around 45 minutes beforehand.