Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Takeaways from 2016 Training Camp

A few things we learned from the Buccaneers' training camp practices.

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Pictures of Jameis Winston during the second week of Buccaneers Training Camp.

  1. Rookies will play an important role.**
    Whether or not they are starting when the Buccaneers open the regular season, the team's top three picks in this year's draft are set to have an early impact. The Bucs' first-round selection, Vernon Hargreaves, has worked his way up the ladder, climbing from the second team to the starting nickel back before getting reps with the first team on the outside last week. Despite early struggles, Roberto Aguayo, the Bucs' second-round pick, was perfect on all of his attempts in Tampa Bay's third preseason game and is the only kicker on the Bucs' roster. Noah Spence, who was also taken in the second-round, will see the field often as a situational pass-rusher.

2. Mike Smith's defense can get after the quarterback.
At times during the 2015 season, the Buccaneers' defensive line struggled to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If training camp is any indicator of things to come, it doesn't appear that the Bucs will have that issue this year. Smith, who was hired last winter to be the team's defensive coordinator, has two fronts that he used often during came – a base front and one used in obvious passing situations. In the Bucs' base defense, Will Gholston and Robert Ayers line up as the ends with Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald on the inside. In the pass-rush package, Ayers lines up on the interior with McCoy while Spence and Jacquies Smith come in on the edge. During camp and the first couple of preseason games, both packages have been successful in getting after the quarterback. 

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  1. Joint practices were a success.**
    The Buccaneers hadn't had joint training camp practices with another team since 2013 when they worked with the Patriots. But this summer, the Bucs had joint practices with two teams – the Jaguars and Browns. By all accounts, practices with both teams were a success. There are always concerns when practicing with unfamiliar players, but the Bucs were able to finish both sets of practice without injuries or any problems, for the most part.

NEWS: BUCCANEERS MAKE 12 CUTS4. A slimmed-down Jameis Winston has continued to progress.
When Winston reported for offseason workouts in the spring, he had lost about 20 pounds. But there were questions as to how, or if, the lost weight would impact his game when pads came on for camp. Throughout August, Winston appears to have taken a step forward from where he was as a rookie. Winston flashed often during camp practices, but it is difficult to say how much the lose weight has effected his game.

5. The Bucs' secondary is much improved.
Like the defensive line, the Bucs' secondary was an area that the team needed to improve at after a disappointing performance in 2015. And like the defensive line, Tampa Bay signed a marquee free agent and used a high draft pick at the position. Brent Grimes, who was signed after three straight trips to the Pro Bowl, was one of the most impressive Buccaneers in camp while Vernon Hargreaves could be a starter come Week 1 of the regular season. Alterraun Verner was also impressive camp, and Jude Adjei-Barimah is making a case to be the Bucs' slot corner.

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