After six-straight days of work (that’s counting reporting day too), head coach Greg Schiano has given his Bucs players the day off on Tuesday.
It’s an opportunity for guys to re-charge their batteries and for us to take a look back at some of what we learned in the first few practices.
1. Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer believes there will be fewer television blackouts in 2013 and is encouraged by ticket sales. He also believes Donald Penn is in the best shape of his life.
2. Mike Williams may not be a true ‘number-one receiver,’ but be looks to become Josh Freeman’s favorite target on the deep ball. With Vincent Jackson now 30, and Williams entering the final year of his deal, showing this much promise, the Bucs were wise to lock him up before teams could start courting him next offseason. He’s poised to have a big year and looks to break 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
3. The Bucs have been working on and will continue to work heavily on the two-minute offense (and defense). After seeing so many games come down to the wire last year, Coach Schiano said the team rehearsed 20 different two-minute situations this past spring.
4. Safety Mark Barron will be playing in the box more in 2013, something that suits him better. Last year Barron was asked to play in coverage a lot because it was Ronde Barber playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Having Dashon Goldson, who excels playing deep, means Barron can blitz more and make plays against the run.
5. Rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks can hold his own against elite receivers. He was regularly paired against Vincent Jackson in practice and had some notable pass breakups throughout the week, and an interception. Typically it’s receivers that have the edge in practice, but Banks’ length, instincts, and general football aptitude have served him well.
Another one to watch is rookie cornerback Rashaan Melvin, an undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois, who has been paired up against Mike Williams at times during practice.
6. Coach Schiano sees a true competition shaping up between Kevin Ogletree and Tiquan Underwood for the third receiver spot.
7. Chris Owusu can play. The Bucs have a lot of competition at receiver behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, but this second-year undrafted free agent out of Stanford deserves to be in the conversation.
With his 4.36 speed (which was tops among receivers at the NFL Combine last year) and good physical stature (6-2, 200 pounds), the only reason he went undrafted was because he was branded ‘concussion-prone’ coming out of college.
He put in a lot of work this offseason working with fellow Stanford alums Andrew Luck and Richard Sherman, and it looks like that work has paid off — Owusu caught a number of passes thrown his way during the two-minute offense.
8. There isn’t much of a competition right now at tight end, and there won’t be if Luke Stocker, who is nursing a calf strain, can’t get out onto the field. Former Packer Tom Crabtree is really the only one who’s stood out, and that’s disappointing considering the team could have used a vertical weapon in this department last year.
9. The kicking job may not be Lawrence Tynes’ just yet, Granted Tynes has two Super Bowl rings and experience kicking in all types of weather conditions, but he missed a 42-yard field attempt during Saturday’s night practice. Derek Dimke, a second-year undrafted free agent out of Illinois, hit one from 54 yards out yesterday. Coincidence? Hey, you saw where the Bucs’ backup last year ended up, didn’t you?
10. The Bucs aren’t opposed to flip-flopping where their defensive ends line up, something typically not see at the NFL level, as Rick Stroud points out.
It’s intriguing that Schiano and Bill Sheridan would employ this kind of strategy, knowing Adrian Clayborn may not be as strong rushing from the left because of Erb’s Palsy, a birth defect. Clearly they don’t think it’s an issue and are more concerned with matching up guys based on body type.