-On Thursday, the Bucs held practice inside Raymond James Stadium to help get used to a game-like environment with Week One just 10 days away. There has been a lot of talk this offseason as Tampa Bay put together the splashiest of teams up to and including the last 24 hours. They've seemingly gone 'all-in' on that coveted Lombardi Trophy in 2020.
"As a head coach, you can't ask for any more," Head Coach Bruce Arians said of his team and the Bucs organization. "You have everything that you need here. This is a great ownership group [and] from top to bottom, it's just fantastic [with] the commitment they've shown. Jason [Licht] has done a great job of identifying people and getting them in the fold. Our job now is to coach them and make sure we've got them ready."
One of those coaches tasked with getting a crucial unit ready is Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell. He has a nine-year veteran in Lavonte David to lead his room, but he also has a second year player that seems to be on the brink of super stardom in Devin White.
"Toward the tail end of the year – after the injury early on in the season – you could see him get comfortable out there and you could see his natural ability start to take over," Caldwell said of White. "He played well for us and then this year, the same thing. He's come in, that leadership – he has it in him naturally – it just comes natural to him and he's just going out there and you see the improvement. There's always a big jump from year one to year two and I think he's right where we want him to be – in great shape and ready to go."
White himself is ready to go and he credits his readiness to a more thorough understanding of the defense, as well as an entire offseason to prepare – without having to go through all the pre-draft hubbub.
"Oh yeah, I'm so [much] faster because when he called a play last year, it was telling yourself, 'Oh you have to do this,'" White said. "You're a rookie, so you don't want to make the mistakes. Now, he calls the play [and] I already know what I have. I'm trying to see what formation they're in so I can see how they're going to attack us [and] so I can call out the plays. Everything is more easy, I know where my help is at on the field, if I have to spill something to a safety or something, I know where they're going to be. It's more communication on the back end – I think that's the main thing we were lacking last year. We weren't all in sync with one another and that kind of caused us to play a lot of man [coverage] last year. Now we get to switch it up because we're talking, we're communicating, we know our leverage [and] we know where we're supposed to be because we made a big emphasis on it. Last year coming in, I did a lot of running around before getting drafted because you had to go through the process. I think this year, I was able to rest mentally and physically more, and be in the best shape of my life. I came in just ready to go and that's why I think I'm way ahead in year two than year one because I was flying to this team, flying to [that] team, drawing this up on the board. I'm not going to say it was stressful – because I knew I had put in the work to get drafted – but it was a lot on me just doing a lot of different things as far as rookies doing a lot of stuff. Now, I'm just laid back. I was just riding horses, going to the barn, working out, studying film, calling my coach [and] just doing little things. My body feels a whole lot better, so I'm ready to go."
Another player that is ready to go – and ready to get some redemption – Week One against the Saints in New Orleans is outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, who says the Bucs' September 13 matchup could be a statement game.
"Yeah, that still is the case and it's because last year – I think we did have a chance when we went down to New Orleans and played them – but the second game, and that game, it felt like they just controlled the game and whenever we did claw back, they just went up again by another touchdown or a field goal," said Barrett. "We feel like we were in it, but we really weren't in it. I just feel like we didn't play our best defense at all. I really just want to get back at them and go ahead and try to get this win … It would most definitely be a statement win because they're a respected team in the league by pretty much everybody and they have been a contender every year. To come out and get our first win against them would be big for us [and] a big step in the right direction."
-Check out our overall takeaways from this year's training camp:
Bucs Tweet of the Day: