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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Despite Knee Replacement, Todd Bowles on Hand for Start of OTAs | Updates

Keep informed with our daily updates: News, notes and more throughout the month of May

bowles

May 21 Updates

In a move reminiscent of his predecessor, Bruce Arians, Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles viewed practice from a golf cart as the team began a three-week run of OTAs. It's a temporary solution to help Bowles move around the field following knee replacement surgery on his left leg.

"A skateboard would have been great, but they gave me a golf cart," joked Bowles after the two-hour field session.

It was frankly impressive that Bowles was on the field at all, as he underwent the procedure just six days ago. At the time, his Buccaneers were finishing up Phase II of the offseason program, which allows for work on the field mainly just individual-position drills and no offense-vs.-defense work. The OTA practices, of which the Bucs can hold a maximum of 10, are more akin to in-season work, in which full-team drills are allowed.

Bowles said the first three days after the surgery last week were difficult but he has begun physical therapy now and is seeing improvement.

"I'm feeling pretty good right now," he said, indicating that the knee will not be an issue by the time the season begins.

CLICK HERE to hear the rest of Bowles' comments after Tuesday's practice.

Thad Leiws

May 16 Updates

For the second year in a row, Buccaneers Quarterbacks Coach Thad Lewis will take part in the NFL's Coach Accelerator Program, which serves as an opportunity for team officials to engage with diverse coaching candidates for potential future openings. This year's program, the fifth of its kind, will take plate in Nashville during the Spring League Meeting.

"It means a lot to be recognized by the Buccaneers organization for exposure opportunities like the Coach Accelerator program," said Lewis. "Last year was an eye-opening experience being introduced to the highest decision-makers from around the league all at once. I'm excited to represent our organization again and build on those connections as I continue my growth as a coach."

Last year, Lewis was about to embark on his first season as Tampa Bay's quarterbacks coach, having been promoted from his previous spot as an assistant wide receivers coach. He began his career as a participant in the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship with the Buccaneers in 2020.

Candidates can build relationships with club owners and executives and further develop and hone their leadership skills. To date, the program has successfully contributed to an increase in diverse candidates being interviewed for open positions, and many past participants have been promoted and hired into more senior coaching positions.

In addition to networking and personal development programming, the league will provide coaches with insight to future initiatives, both on and off the field, to contextualize how the game will continue to develop and where the NFL is evolving.

The Oregon Ducks take on the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon on September 23, 2023 (Eric Evans Photography)

May 6 Updates

In 2023, the Buccaneers had one man, second-year wide receiver Deven Thompkins, deep to field every single punt and kickoff the team received. In 2024, the team may look to diversify its return options.

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey is very early in the process of identifying options to bring back punts and kickoffs, and he doesn't even have any of the team's rookies in the building yet. It's premature to produce any list of potential candidates, and the real competition won't begin until there are live reps in the preseason. Still, he did briefly mention three names as a starting point, and one of them is new to the team: fourth-round draft pick Bucky Irving, a running back out of Oregon.

"Right now we're the process of just trying to figure out who we're going to put back there," said McGaughey. "Obviously you've got DT and guys that have been here before [like] Chase [Edmonds]. We've got young guys coming in, they'll compete. Bucky will be back there. We'll see."

Irving has some kickoff return experience from college, running out 14 kicks for 334 yards (23.9-yard average) over three seasons with Minnesota and Oregon. Perhaps more importantly, he has physical traits that show up in his primary job of running the ball on offense that would potentially translate very well to the NFL's new form of kickoffs. Some have suggested that the format will make the return more like an offensive play with an established line of scrimmage and few players with running starts, an assessment that McGaughey agreed with on Monday. One break through that line could produce a very gib play.

"The nice thing I like about Bucky is he gets to his top speeds early," said Offensive Coordinator Liam Coen of Irving's strengths as a runner. "When he accepts the handoff, he bursts and accelerates through the hole and can make people miss in space."

Coen is also confident that Irving would happily accept a shot at winning a job on kickoff return, where the new rules allow for teams to keep two return men in the "landing zone" while the other nine players on that unit line up at their own 35.

"Bucky's pretty dynamic, where he gives us the ability in the run and pass game, right? The screen game," said Coen. "And then also from a special teams standpoint in the return game as well. I'm actually pretty close with the OC out at Oregon, Will [Stein], and he told me [Irving] was his favorite player that he's ever coached, somebody that is team-first, will do anything and everything he's asked to do."

CLICK HERE for more thoughts from Coach McGaughey on the new kickoff rule.

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