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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Training Camp Goals: 2023 Buccaneers, Numbers 40-49

As our player-by-player countdown of potential objectives for this year's training camp hits the midway point, we look at a key starter in the middle of the defense and some intriguing rookie running backs


In terms of making an impact on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' fortunes in any given season, of all the 10-number ranges from 0-99,the 40s are at an automatic disadvantage. Three of the numbers from 40-49 are essentially unavailable; John Lynch's #47 is officially retired and the team clearly is in no mood to put someone else in Mike Alstott's #40 or Ricky Bell's #42.

That said, the recent relaxation of positional jersey number restrictions has brought more of a mix to that number range than in years past, when it was mostly the province of long-snappers, tight ends and the occasional running back or tight end. Heading into this year's training camp, the Buccaneers have filled the seven available 40 jerseys with a couple of intriguing rookie running backs, a tight end who relishes blocking and a trio of potential edge rush options. And right in the middle of the 40s, of course, is one of the team's key defensive starters.

#41 TE Ko Kieft: The Buccaneers spent fourth and sixth-round picks on tight ends in last year's draft and by season's end were pleased with the results of both selections. While fourth-rounder Cade Otton put together a 42-catch rookie campaign that teased a long-term future as a true two-way 'Y' tight end, sixth-rounder Kieft was everything the Bucs hoped he would be as a blocker and more. Kieft was also a pleasant surprise as an ace on special teams, leading the team with 11 kick-coverage stops. On a roster without a true fullback, Kieft was moved around the formation and the backfield to wherever the team needed him to clear a path, and he did so with aplomb. He did catch seven passes for 80 yards and a score, but with the addition of Payne Durham in this year's draft, the Bucs may use an Otton-Durham combination more often in two-TE sets where both players are potential receiving threats. Kieft played in 22% of the team's offensive stats. To maintain or increase that number, Kieft could be looking to show just how valuable his blocking talents are – perhaps even more so in a new offense determined to bring more balance to the run game – while also continuing to show the impact he can make on special teams.

#43 RB Ronnie Brown: The first (alphabetically and numerically) of the two undrafted running backs the team signed in May, Brown had a huge senior season at Division II Shepherd University, rushing for 1,863 yards and catching 56 passes for 589 yards while scoring a total of 24 touchdowns. Brown's relatively slight frame (5-11, 187) likely contributed to his undrafted status, but he has 4.44 speed and quick feet. His best chance to stick around the Bucs in some capacity, and therefore what could be his main areas of emphasis in training camp, are to show he can make things happen as a pass-catcher and perhaps a kick returner. Brown has displayed good hands and had an impressive average of 14.3 yards per catch during his collegiate career. Last season, he also ran back 19 kickoffs at a 28.7-yard clip, including a 100-yard touchdown return.

#44 RB Sean Tucker: Tucker had a very impressive output against ACC competition, racking up 3,182 rushing yards, 64 receptions for 622 yards and 31 total touchdowns over three seasons at Syracuse. He was a coveted prospect after the draft and the Buccaneers landed him with a significant amount of guaranteed money for an undrafted free agent. He is considered a good fit for the type of zone running scheme the Bucs are expected to employ under new Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales, a one-cut runner with a quick burst and explosiveness. However, the Buccaneers have yet to see any of this on their own practice fields because Tucker sat out OTAs and minicamp with an undisclosed injury. Therefore, the very first goal for Tucker is to be ready go when his first NFL training camp begins in less than two weeks. After that, Tucker will set his sights on earning a spot on a Tampa Bay running back depth chart that should feature wide-open competition behind presumed starter Rachaad White.

#45 ILB Devin White: White is headed into the fifth-year option and the last season of his original rookie contract, and he has already built a very impressive NFL resume. Prior to the 2023 draft, Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht was asked about a reported trade request by White and stated that he had no intention of trading the fifth-year linebacker, that the team holds him in high regard and that he expects White to have "the kind of year that we all think he's capable of." Clearly, the Buccaneers anticipate White continuing to be a key play-making presence in the middle of their defense. His goal for training camp could be simply to maximize the talents that took him to the Pro Bowl in 2021, made him a second-team Associated Press All-Pro the year before that, led to 20.5 sacks in four years and saw him emerge as one of the biggest stars of the team's run to the Super Bowl championship after the 2020 season.

View photos of the Creamsicle uniform drop from the event at Lee Roy's.

#46 OLB Hamilcar Rashed: This will be Rashed's first training camp in Tampa, as he joined the Buccaneers, his third NFL team, last December and spent five weeks on the practice squad. He originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Jets in 2021 and later moved on to the Steelers when New York waived him midway through last summer's preseason. He has played in one regular-season game after a practice squad elevation by the Jets in 2021 and had one tackle while playing 16 defensive snaps. Rashed apparently showed enough in his month with the team last season to get a longer look this summer, and his goal surely will be to take the next step in his NFL career and make a regular season roster. He had good athletic testing numbers coming out of Oregon State and plays hard to the whistle. If he doesn't win a 53-man spot among a crowded group of OLB options, he can still pursue another practice squad invite, which would extend his chance to eventually play in games for the Buccaneers.

#48 OLB Charles Snowden: Snowden, like Rashed, joined the Bucs' practice squad during the 2022 season, in his case coming aboard shortly after Shaquil Barrett landed on injured reserve with an Achilles tendon tear. Snowden also saw a small bit of regular season action in 2021, playing two games for the Bears. Originally predicted as a mid-round pick in 2021, the Virginia stand out fell into the undrafted ranks, perhaps due to the ankle injury that ended his final collegiate season early and kept him out of subsequent all-star games. He played in a 3-4 defense for the Cavaliers and has the ability to drop into coverage from the OLB spot, and between his first and second NFL seasons he added about 15 pounds to get into the 260 range. Snowden will head into his first Buccaneers camp attempting to show that he is a good fit in Todd Bowles' 3-4 system and that his smooth movements make him an interesting developmental prospect.

#49 OLB Cam Gill: Gill's NFL career appeared to be on a quietly upward trajectory until it hit a speedbump in the Bucs' 2022 preseason opener, in which he suffered a Lisfranc injury that kept him out for his entire third season. He started out impressively enough, making the Bucs' roster as a rookie in 2020 despite being undrafted out of Wagner College of the FCS Northeastern Conference, a school that had produced exactly one NFL player before 2020. He only got into three regular season games as a rookie but then memorably collected his first career sack in Super Bowl LV (he split it with Ndamukong Suh). He started the 2021 season on injured reserve but only missed four games and then played in the last 13, contributing 1.5 sacks in 100 snaps as the fourth man in the OLB rotation. Looking to deepen that edge-rush rotation in 2023 after it produced a total of 14.0 sacks last fall, the Buccaneers spent third and sixth-round draft picks on Yaya Diaby and Jose Ramirez, respectively. That obviously made the competition much more fierce to land the last couple spots in the rotation, but Gill can come to his fourth Buccaneer camp ready to show that he should not be forgotten.

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