First, it was Chris Godwin beating first-round pick Caleb Farley for a deep touchdown, followed by Jaelon Darden beating his man deep for another score. Antonio Brown was held on one of his early reps, which is something he seemed to take personally as he went on to win just about every rep he took from that point through the end of the period, talking some trash with every win. Mike Evans, as he tends to do, then drew a pass interference call a few minutes later.
As the period came to an end, Brown continued his dominance before Cyril Grayson and Tyler Johnson got in on the action with some big catches. Johnson came up with a one-handed grab down the sideline right in front of the group of Season Pass Members who were in attendance, which elicited some massive cheers. By the end of those one-on-ones, there was zero doubt about who won the period.
Tennessee’s DBs are not having a good time with the #Bucs WRs right now— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) August 18, 2021
Felt a little like the Bucs WRs were straight up bullying those poor DBs https://t.co/1uMRU8MPxX— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) August 18, 2021
But as strong as that opening period of 1-on-1s was for Tampa Bay, the morning took a turn for the worse afterward. It wasn’t necessarily that Tennessee’s defense stepped up and got better, though. The Bucs’ passing game struggled during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, but the problems were largely self-inflicted. There were countless drops, which was the continuation of a troubling trend that has developed throughout training camp. We even saw those issues in last Saturday’s preseason opener.
These drops weren’t an isolated problem. Running backs, receivers and tight ends from up and down the depth chart were having passes go off their hands left and right. Brown, Evans, Darden, Ronald Jones II, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Jerell Adams, Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard all had drops, and those guys certainly weren’t the only ones. It was a sloppy few periods from a group of pass-catchers that is known as one of the league’s best.
The day did end on a higher note, though, as the goal-line period was largely a success for Tampa Bay’s offense. Johnson caught a couple of touchdowns, as did Brown and Codey McElroy.
The drops and relative sloppiness that have persisted throughout camp might be somewhat worrisome, but the good thing is that this is the time to get those issues out. You’d much rather be dropping passes against Titans defensive backs on the practice fields than against Cowboys defenders at Raymond James Stadium in three weeks.