-First things, first. If there was ever anything that summed up my feelings this time of year perfectly, it’s this meme. Thanks, The Checkdown.
-Because there isn’t much game planning involved for the first preseason game, the Bucs kept with a varying camp schedule this past week. After having an off day on Sunday, the Bucs had an 8 a.m. practice on Monday morning. They proceeded to have two 4 p.m. practices, the second of which was indoors and abbreviated to give the players a little bit of a rest before their travel day on Thursday to Pittsburgh. The varying practice schedules are meant to help prepare them for a rigorous season schedule that sees a lot of 4:25 p.m. start times and a seven-week span where the Bucs will be on the road. They’ll have to contend not only with varying game start times, but also varying time zones, as they’ll make two west coast trips and a trip overseas to London in that span.
-Monday’s early morning practice started with the National Anthem and kicked off Military Appreciation Day at training camp. The practice was exclusive to military members, both active duty and veterans, and their families. Following practice, General Manager Jason Licht and Head Coach Bruce Arians surprised 19-year-old Alfonso Diaz with a $5,000 check from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation to help with his schooling at Hillsborough Community College. Diaz’s mother was called into active duty with the Army Reserves unexpectedly last year when Diaz was just 18. Given that the military considers 18 to be an adult, he was left to be the primary caretaker of his two sisters while finishing high school. With their situation unchanged, Diaz elected to stay at home for college so he can continue to care for his sisters.
-The very next day, the Buccaneers hosted a group from Special Olympics South Florida after practice. It’s one of the best days of the year, if you ask me. I’ve never not seen the players have so much fun running drills and playing around with the athletes. At one point, our social media coordinator turned to me and just said, ‘wow, we have great guys on this team’ and I couldn’t have said it any better. There were so many wonderful moments, and of course touchdown celebrations, that it was impossible to capture them all. Our team photographers did a pretty good job though in the gallery below.
View some of the top fan photos from Buccaneers Training Camp at the AdventHealth Training Center.
-Speaking of great guys, the Salty Dogs are back and this week’s episode is with outside linebacker Shaq Barrett – a new addition to the team for 2019. Barrett played the last five seasons in Denver, winning the Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2015. Jeff Ryan and Scott Smith had a great conversation with Barrett about his goals now that he’s in Tampa and what his impressions of the defense are so far this preseason.
-Barrett is listed as a second-team outside linebacker on the Bucs’ first official depth chart released this week. It means there’s still room to prove himself on this defense, if nothing else. There shouldn’t be a whole lot of emphasis placed on a team’s first depth chart, though. But what is the preseason for if not for over-analyzing right? The depth chart also reveals some rookies doing some good things. First-round pick Devin White seems to have secured his spot as one of the team’s two starting inside linebackers. White has been wearing the green dot and calling the defense in practice. He’s been consistently earning praise from his coaches and consistently getting better at the same time. Safety Mike Edwards is another rookie impressing on defense and marks the only other first-year on defense besides White that is listed as first-team.
Offensively, it seems that second-year player Alex Cappa has done enough this preseason to put an end to the rotation at right guard the Bucs experienced last year. He’s listed as the starting right guard as the Bucs start game action tonight. The Bucs also signed veteran Earl Watford who’s listed right behind Cappa, so we’ll see if Cappa can keep it. Quarterback Jameis Winston called Cappa’s play ‘dominant’ just the other say so it certainly seems as if a big question mark for the Bucs’ offensive line has been answered.
The depth chart was also affected by some injuries as well. The team announced this week that veteran inside linebacker Lavonte David underwent a minor knee procedure and will miss the rest of the preseason but expects him to be back Week One of the regular season. Veteran inside linebacker Deone Bucannon, who the team signed this offseason and has played under Bruce Arians before in Arizona, is listed as the starting inside backer in David’s place. The team also put rookie safety D’Cota Dixon on IR and announced that offensive lineman Mike Liedtke has a shoulder injury that will keep him out for the 2019 season.
See the full depth chart here.
-So, I started a new series on Buccaneers.com called Bucs Anonymous. I’m chronicling the journeys of three players throughout camp, although I’m not telling you who they are – yet. Each week there will be more and more clues as to who each player is. See if you can guess before the reveal on Aug. 26!
-Oh, we’ve got a new episode of In The Current out for you – and the first of training camp. You really need to watch it.
-Last but CERTAINLY not least, the Bucs announced that country super star Tim McGraw will be playing a FULL concert ahead of the Bucs’ season opener on September 8. The concert will begin at 2 p.m. and is FREE with your game ticket. A Tim McGraw concert and Bucs football all in one day? Can you say best Sunday ever!?