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Bucs Mini-Camp Musings: Day Two

Posted Jun 13, 2018

A couple unexpected stand-out receivers along with some surprising looks for the defensive line highlight the second day of the Buccaneers’ mandatory mini-camp.

1. The receivers are impressing – and it isn’t just the four you’re thinking about.
Coach Koetter has gone on record saying that wide receiver Bobo Wilson may be the most improved player from last year to this offseason. Wilson has been used all over the field during OTAs and has been a reliable pass catcher with his sure hands and quick feet. During the second day of mini-camp, however, it was third-year wide receiver Freddie Martino that would haul in a couple of impressive catches on the day.

“We have a good group at wide out,” Head Coach Dirk Koetter said following practice. “Those first four guys are really good. They complement each other well. I think our second level guys, Freddie Martino and Bobo Wilson have really upped their games. That gets you to six. I would have liked to have seen Justin Watson. He’s going to have a lot of catching up to do come fall camp.”

Even the undrafted rookie Sergio Bailey had a great grab in corner of the end zone during seven-on-seven drills from Winston. The wide receiver group is one that already has a lot of depth, with the top four guys being Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries and Chris Godwin. It’s a group of guys that complement each other well, but judging from OTAs, those fifth and sixth receivers aren’t far behind.

2. RB Ronald Jones is working on his hands.
Rojo has been a standout from the rookie class all offseason. He’s already been splitting time with the 1s along with running back Peyton Barber during OTAs and while football with no pads doesn’t exactly provide a good evaluation of running plays, running backs are still able to get some receiving reps in. Jones had a nice catch from Winston on Wednesday where he caught the ball on an outside route and then tiptoed down the sideline into the end zone. Working on his pass-catching ability has been a focus for the young running back as it will undoubtedly be something he is asked to do. It’s not something he was used to doing in college at USC, so the first-team reps with QB1 he’s been getting this offseason are invaluable.

3. The secondary nabbed a two-part interception Wednesday.
It was a great effort by a couple young members of the secondary as they picked off quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone. Initially it was rookie safety Jordan Whitehead that leapt up to get a piece of the ball. The fourth-round pick’s tip proved fruitful as safety Isaiah Johnson made a heads up play to bring the ball down and complete the interception. Whitehead has seen limited practice time with a hamstring injury in rookie mini-camp, but he was back in full capacity for this week’s mini-camp, allowing Coach Koetter to get a good look at the rook.

“I’d say his quickness is the thing that jumps out,” Koetter said of Whitehead. “He plays safety but he probably moves a little bit more like a corner. He does pack a punch like a safety. We’ll see more when we get the pads on. I wish we could have had him for more practices, but his quickness is definitely what sticks out.”

4. O.J. Howard has also been a human highlight reel during mini-camp.
Second-year tight end O.J. Howard had yet another beautiful catch during Wednesday’s practice. It was a bomb from Jameis Winston right in the seam that would have resulted in a take-it-to-the-house touchdown after Howard had both safeties beat down the field at the time he hauled it in. Howard has been working on his blocking game this season, but after leading the team in touchdowns during his rookie year, his follow-up campaign should be even better in regard to receptions.

“I mean, O.J.’s incredible athleticism just jumps out at you,” Coach Koetter said about Howard. “I think with him knowing more what to expect with the 16-game schedule and six weeks of training camp, I think it’s just easy to see-anyone who watched those plays could see why the guy was a first-round draft pick.”

5. Rotation, rotation, rotation for the defensive line.
It was another day and another rotation for the defensive line on Wednesday. The lineup seems to vary heavily by situation. Yesterday, there was a point where the first-team was made up of Vinny Curry to the left and Jason Pierre-Paul to the right on the outside with Vita Vea and Beau Allen on the interior (it appeared to be a situation where the defense was anticipating the run). Then today, during 11-on-11, we saw looks that had Allen and McCoy on the interior with JPP and Curry on the outside yet again. But perhaps the most surprising look of the day was with Curry on the right side and Noah Spence on the left lined up outside and McCoy paired inside with JPP. It’s an ever-evolving mashup of flexible defensive talent, but it’s something that Coach Koetter hopes to nail down before the regular season.

“I think it will definitely evolve through training camp and then you’ll start to settle in in the season,” Koetter said. “We have a long way to go on that. But, it’s a nice problem to have right now. It doesn’t always work out that way. As we know, there’s injuries and you just never know what’s going to happen.”

Play of the Day:
Slot receiver Adam Humphries showed off his athleticism with a toe drag play to stay in bounds after leaping up to grab a ball from Winston in the back of the end zone.