Of course, all of this leads up to their pre-season match-up on Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.
For the first time this week, practice started outdoors. For the third time this week, it ended indoors. Let’s get to some observations of what happened on Tuesday morning into the afternoon.
As you could imagine, media was all over the place today and with the one-on-one drills being the only thing permitted for recording, there were plenty of cameras trained on the players as they faced off for the first time.
Particularly encouraging were the performances of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin who consistently beat their man and won, even when matched up against Miami’s top cornerback, Xavien Howard.
Jameis Winston to Mike Evans with Xavien Howard in coverage. pic.twitter.com/RvBHMlxTdF— PewterReport (@PewterReport) August 13, 2019
The running backs and tight ends also matched up against Dolphins linebackers in passing drills, and as expected, it was an up and down stretch.
Overall though, the running backs looked good with Ronald Jones looking particular comfortable running his routes and bringing in the ball.
One particular iteration caught some fan attention as Jones put his defender on his butt and broke free for an easy connection.
Crowd in attendance at #Bucs camp was very pleased with this rep. Ronald Jones looked good throughout the 1v1 period. Catching the ball and winning his match-ups against #Dolphins defenders. pic.twitter.com/rparxxlAHV— David Harrison (@DH82_Bucs) August 13, 2019
Then it was on to the un-filmable portion of practice, which started off with special teams work. Head coach Bruce Arians has spoken about Tampa Bay’s special teams execution in the past and identified it as an early area he’d like to get right.
Overall, the session is what you’d expect, especially with two teams not out to lay the lumber on each other. So all that’s really going to stand out for us are the negatives.
A particularly bad stretch for the Bucs return unit came when the front line of blockers lined up too close to the kickoff, resulting in some loud words and a chance to reset.
Then, on the next kick, Ronal Jones dropped the ball when trying to receive it for the return.
Mental errors clearly, and something the coaches are sure to harp on as they break into meetings throughout the week.
We can’t forget the man himself. The quarterback. Winston honestly had an up-and-down day. From the one-on-one drills with receivers, backs and tight ends he looked good on some and was off the mark on others.
Something which has consistently looked better though, is his decision making. Throw after throw, when facing a live defense he’s throwing the ball to a place that makes sense. Not a lot of head scratching moments.
The same couldn’t be said about his receivers though. Breshad Perriman in particular had a couple of bad drops in the intersquad periods. One specifically came in the back corner of the end zone. Perriman did have two defenders near him, but both were trailing the play and Winston dropped a dime right into Perriman’s hands for what would have been an easy catch and score.
Better to make these mistakes here in practice than in the game.
Speaking of Wide Receivers
Mike Evans looked good. Yawn. What else is new? But still worth mentioning as we all know opposing defenses are eyeing number thirteen whenever the Bucs step on a football field.
Chris Godwin looked strong against the Dolphins defense today as well. Although he did give us a bit of a scare at one point.
Bucs receiver Chris Godwin just pulled up mid-route in practice. Walking off, but something to check.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 13, 2019
And check we did. Godwin was spotted with his helmet and gloves on shortly, and he returned to haul in a beautiful two-point conversion reception after the teams moved indoors due to weather.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has talked extensively about how crucial communication is between his young secondary members.
We’ve seen good examples of this and bad, but today was all good. Now, this isn’t to say they stopped everything, because that’ll never happen. But in a lot of situations where one or more receivers could easily get lost in crosses.
Specifically, the Dolphins tried to run three crossing routes on one play from the right side of the offensive formation, and the defenders consisting of M.J. Stewart Jr., Carlton Davis III and Kentrell Brice read and reacted perfectly resulting in the ball going elsewhere and the defense winning the snap.
With as much turnover as there’s been on this secondary, it’s encouraging to say the least to see such smooth execution in fairly chaotic situations.
The Bad News
It can’t all be good of course and a couple of things stood out among the rest.
As I mentioned, Winston wasn’t on target all day, and at one point he missed Godwin wide open on a slant which would have gained around 15-yards had he hit his target.
On a defensive rep, Kalen Ballage smoked the Tampa Bay defensive unit, and I couldn’t tell who’s responsibility he was, but the first Bucs defender trailing was rookie linebacker Devin White.
Either way, it was a rough play for the defense, and an obvious exploit Bowles and his coaches will look to fix fast.
More positives than negatives today, and the team definitely appears to be growing since their experience in Pittsburgh.
We’re back tomorrow for the second-day of practices.