Just like Sunday’s practice, everything kicked off indoors, but this time the Buccaneers stayed inside for the duration of the allotted time.
But don’t worry, there are still plenty of notes and highlights from Day 4 of practice.
1. The offense looked much, much better.....
Everyone has been waiting for the offense to start making strides and Day 4 was a good start. Good reads were made, crisp passes were completed, receivers came down with tough catches, the offensive line protected well, and the running backs had some good moments today.
Jameis Winston, despite throwing a few picks, looked very good and Blaine Gabbert played well, too. Winston completed several deep balls, albeit most were in a 1-on-1 drill, but it was a much better performance than we’ve seen the last few days.
Bruce Arians even said he thought the “offense bounced back” after practice so in all, it was a good day.
2. But the defense still made plays.
I promise, I’m not trying to shove this down anyone’s throat, but for the fourth straight practice, the defense was very good.
As mentioned earlier, there were plenty of picks, including a pick-six from defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter, who read the screen all the way and stepped in front of the intended receiver to take it all the way to the house.
Vernon Hargreaves III did his best Peanut Tillman impression and punched the ball out of Cortrelle Simpson’s hands to force a fumble that was recovered by the defense. He now has a forced turnover in the past two consecutive practices.
There were also several moments that would’ve resulted in a sack. Safety Kentrell Brice perfectly timed a safety blitz and came in untouched and Noah Spence had another one from the edge, adding more film to an already impressive camp.
3. “The Badger” shows up.
We keep hearing about the comparisons between rookie safety Mike Edwards and former Arians standout Tyrann Mathieu. Today, we finally got to see why everyone raves about Edwards’ ball skills.
He finished the day with two interceptions. The first one was the result of what looked like a miscommunication between Winston and his receiver, which ended with the ball landing right in Edwards’ chest. He then jumped a route later in practice and took it all the way to the house for a pick-six.
.@UKFootball rookie S Mike Edwards with the pick-6.#Bucs have had Edwards running with the second and third team to get extra reps at multiple DB spots.— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) July 29, 2019
This was his second interception of the day, and it was a beauty. pic.twitter.com/9EgKOZNzG2
The Bucs have Edwards playing free safety with the ones and right now it looks like the job is his to lose.
4. Matt Gay has one helluva leg.
He nearly made a 60-yarder from the right hash. It had the distance, so all he needs to do is work on his accuracy more.
5. TE Tanner Hudson making some noise.
Hudson has looked very solid since Saturday. It all started with a highlight-reel touchdown catch in the back of the end zone on Day 2 and has now bled into the last two practices.
I counted about five receptions, including another touchdown. He ran solid routes and caught just about everything thrown his way.
Right now, it wouldn’t surprise me if he made the final roster, but there is still a lot of work to do on his end.
6. Justin Watson is having some issues with drops.
Watson is still having a solid camp, but has had some issues with drops over the past two practices. Arians even mentioned how he needs to hold on to the ball better after Sunday’s practice.
Today he had about four or five balls that he got his hands on, but couldn’t reel them in. Granted, a couple would’ve easily been considered tough catches to make, but any receiver will tell you that if they get their hands on the ball - they need to catch it.
He did make this nice touchdown grab in goal-line work, so it’s not like today was terrible or anything of that nature.
Video: Barely kept it in frame, but nice goal-line throw from Jameis Winston to Justin Watson. pic.twitter.com/a6jIdkLvXw— Greg Auman (@gregauman) July 29, 2019
7. Maintenance days for a few starters.
Demar Dotson, Ndamukong Suh, and Cameron Brate were all seen without pads, but Arians clarified it was just a maintenance day for those three.
8. Alex Cappa was solid.
Arians couldn’t offer an initial assessment after practice, stating he’d need to watch the tape to determine what happened in the trenches, but from what I could see, Cappa had a pretty good day.
There were several moments where he held his own against the likes of Vea, Gholston, and others, but then there were moments where reserves like Patrick O’Connor gave him all he could handle.
Regardless, it feels like he is heading in the right direction.
9. Vita Vea all over the place.
He lined up at the nose, 3T, 5T, and even 7T if what I saw was correct.
Todd Bowles was not kidding when he said Vea would play all over the defensive line.
10. A lot of nickel defense.
It was a lot of fun to watch what the Bucs plan to do in their nickel packages. M.J. Stewart and Sean Murphy-Bunting have been effective in their roles.
The defensive line also had some very interesting alignments, including one that featured William Gholston and Beau Allen on the inside with Carl Nassib and Vea out wide at defensive end.
I don’t want to get in trouble with too many details, so we will just leave it at that.
11. Pre-snap movement and communication on defense.
As expected there is so much movement on this defense before the ball is snapped. Naturally, communication is integral in order to make sure everyone is on the same page.
We had a chance to see both of these elements in action, including a nice play during goal line work that resulted in a PBU from VHIII. The defense communicated well in order to determine their assignments and Hargreaves made the perfect read to make the play.
Communication was a big issue for the defense last season, but this year it looks like everyone knows how to get each other in the proper place(s).