Antoine Winfield Jr. Embraces Versatile Duties
Antoine Winfield Jr. has become the Swiss army knife of the Buccaneers' defense. He is cross training at both nickel and free safety. Winfield Jr. possesses the ability to line up in the slot and cover, blitz and walk up to set the edge versus the run. With a high football IQ and cerebral approach to the game, Winfield's role has expanded in 2022 to maximize all facets of his unique skillset. Additionally, Logan Ryan has experience playing both safety and slot corner over the previous few seasons.
"That nickel position is a nuance position," Ryan assessed. "It's not a position you learn in college too well and you need to have a good one in the NFL. Me and him [Winfield Jr.] have both taken reps there [slot corner]. Physically, he is stout and is a strong tackler. He is a strong blitzer…I feel like as much as I'm trying to teach him the nickel stuff that I have learned over the years, he is trying to teach me the center field [free safety] stuff, because I have only been doing that for a couple of years. We are relying on each other a lot. The goal is to push ourselves in practice at both positions to give Todd [Bowles] more versatility in the game…It is tough mentally to learn the game from two sides."
Winfield predominately played the free safety position in Tampa Bay over the past two seasons, optimizing his awareness. There, he watches the play unfold and is assigned to the quarterback in man. If the opposing quarterback stays in the pocket, the free safety provides "help" to double another player. At slot corner, the assignment is primarily to play inside on nickel packages, usually over the slot receiver. As offenses have evolved to include more three-receiver sets in spread formations, defenses have adapted, playing more nickel. Offenses have begun moving athletic pass-catching tight ends into the slot to create mismatches. In return, defenses responded by making the slot corner a do-it-all weapon. Like a queen on the chessboard, Winfield Jr. has varying responsibilities on any given play. Football runs in his veins and much like the play-making style of his father, Antoine Winfield Sr., the Bucs' cornerstone is a hard-hitter. Winfield Jr. commands the middle of the field and will be one to watch in 2022.
Bucs Trim the Roster to Mandatory 80 Limit
On Tuesday, the Buccaneers waived first-year tight end Bug Howard with an injury designation, making the last remaining move to reach the necessary 80-player roster limit by the 4:00 p.m. ET deadline. Previously, the Buccaneers waived safety Troy Warner and released wide receiver Vyncint Smith on Sunday, prior to placing linebacker Cam Gill and guard Aaron Stinnie on injured reserve on Tuesday. Collectively, those moves reduced the roster from 85 to 80, as mandated by the NFL for all 32 teams by August 23. With the departure of Howard, the Bucs currently have five tight ends on the depth chart including veterans Cam Brate and Kyle Rudolph, fourth-round pick Cade Otton, sixth-round selection Ko Kieft and undrafted free agent JJ Howland.
Logan Ryan Joined by Special Guest
On Tuesday following practice in the indoor facility, Bucs' safety Logan Ryan was joined at the podium by a five-year-old terrier mix, Cora. Ryan used the platform to promote animals in need of a forever home. Cora arrived at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay in June of 2022 because her owner no longer had the ability to care for her. If adopted by August 26th, Cora will receive four weeks of free virtual dog training though GoodPup, courtesy of Logan Ryan and his foundation, the Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation (RARF).
Logan and Ashley Ryan, the founders of RARF, are sponsoring free virtual dog training scholarships through GoodPup for dogs adopted from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay starting July 26th through August 26th. During the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp (7/26 to 8/26), the training scholarships funded by Ryan's Animal Rescue Foundation will give adopters four weeks of dog training with a Certified Positive Reinforcement Dog Trainer through GoodPup.
Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation was founded in 2017 in Nashville, but has since expanded to provide adoption promotion, financial and educational resources nationwide. Since its inception, the foundation and the Ryan's have promoted thousands of animals for adoption and contributed over $250,000 to the animal rescue community through grants and private donations.
For more information about the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and its mission to provide shelter for homeless and at-risk animals, adoptions, hospital, and TNVR services for the public; which operates independently from the Humane Society of the United States., please visit: https://humanesocietytampa.org/