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Bucs rookie WR Justin Watson continues to make strides

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Rookie bounces back after game one fumble.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected rookie receiver Justin Watson in the fifth round out of Pennsylvania, no one really knew what to expect. Watson did have a fantastic career at Pennsylvania and put up incredible numbers, but it’s hard to make the transition from Division I to the NFL.

After a shaky first game in which Watson fumbled, he came out on fire in Saturday’s 30-14 win over the Tennessee Titans. Watson got the chance to play with Jameis Winston throughout the second quarter and he didn’t waste the opportunity. Watson finished with four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Watson is in competition to be the team’s fifth receiver and still has a long way to go to secure that spot. Other players competing for that fifth receiver spot are BoBo Wilson, Sergio Bailey and Bernard Reedy. It is likely a competition that will come down to the last preseason game, but obviously every game is important for these players.

Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter commented on Watson’s ability to not only be a solid receiver in this league, but to also play special teams, which helps every bubble player make the roster.

“That’s what we were hoping when Jason [Licht] picked him. We were hoping he could develop. He’s had some really good days and some not-so-good days. Love the way he works at it. He’s playing hard on special teams,” Koetter said. “That’s another – when you’re not in those first two or three, you’ve got to play on special teams as well. That’s just the way it goes. He’s definitely making strides there as well.”

Watson did in fact have a special teams tackle in the teams win over the Titans, and he has been noticeable on different occasions playing that role. Watson unfortunately was behind to start training camp because he missed almost all of the offseason with a hamstring injury, but Koetter feels as if the rookie has made up for lost time.

“Sure. Anybody that’s out there, anybody that’s here still and playing and having that kind of production, of course. If a guy is good enough, we’ll find a spot for them,” Koetter said.

Watson will need to continue to have nights like the one he had on Saturday if he wants to solidify his spot on the roster, but so far, Buccaneer fans should be pleased with the fifth round pick.