Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. quickly became a force in Tampa Bay’s defense his rookie year last season. He earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors last September and was named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team for 2020. Aside from those accolades, the second-year safety was all over the field recording 94 total tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception.
That’s not all bad for rookie, and even better than some veterans in the league. But Winfield felt that as a rookie there were improvements that needed to be made ahead of his second year, and the biggest improvement was becoming sharper mentally.
“I feel like my most improvement is just mentally,” Winfield said. “That first year, they throw so many things out at you just learning the scheme and things like that. But after being in the system for a year, I just feel like mentally my game is just sharper and a little bit better than last year so that’s where I feel the best at.”
It’s hard to understand how a rookie who started all 16 games for a Super Bowl defense needed to improve mentally. But only Winfield would obviously know what he needed to get better in.
Winfield earned the starting role immediately after showcasing what he had last training camp. As a unit, he feels that the consistency of being together will also bring on improvements for the defense and be even better than last season.
“I think just being together from last year to this year having everybody back – I feel like everybody knows how each other plays on our defense and how we operate. I feel like that is what’s been best for us because we know how each other play and we can play off of each other better. I think we will be better this year.”