Donovan Smith wakes up with Good Morning Football
Offensive linemen do not always get the recognition they deserve. Being in the trenches may not garner praise due to the lack of flashiness associated with the position group, but Buccaneers' left tackle Donovan Smith was given distinguished praise via the NFL Network's morning show, Good Morning Football. In 64 game starts, Smith has entrenched himself as a cornerstone in the Bucs' line with consistency and longevity protecting the man under center.
When asked about blocking for Tom Brady, who unretired after 40 days, Smith laughed, "It was one of those things. It was shocking. It was like, is this real? Is this fake? What is the deal? When we finally got that news that he was coming back, it was, alright let's go. We have got to go get this thing one more time."
The Bucs are gearing up with a win-now approach for the upcoming 2022 season as Brady returns for his 23rd season in the NFL and the Bucs vie for another Lombardi Trophy. Their juggernaut aerial attack is predicated on the success of the men in the trenches and Smith plays an integral role. With excellent pad level and knee-bend, Smith bulldozes defenders with leverage. A familiar face will guide the club in 2022 as Todd Bowles transitions from his previous role as defensive coordinator to head coach. However, Smith points out that the battle has already been won. Bowles has engendered the trust of the squad and the team has set their gaze on another title run.
"Half of the battle when you get a new coach is just earning the trust of the players," Smith stated. "With already being on staff the past two years, a lot of the guys know him. He is a great guy; a great coach and we have a lot of respect for him and what he has done over the years… he definitely has all of the things to get us back there and we are riding with him. At the end of the day, we want to go out there and win and that's all that matters."
Tom Brady participates in batting practice with Rob Gronkowski.
What can't Tom Brady do? The soon-to-be 45-year-old has seven Super Bowl rings, is a five-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time NFL MVP and holds nearly every quarterback statistical record including passing yards, completions and touchdown passes. Not to mention, he already has a lucrative deal in place as a FOX broadcaster when he eventually hangs up the cleats.
He will not be sent to the MLB anytime soon, but he did showcase his left-handed-swing on Tuesday in a mock batting practice with his go-to target on the gridiron, tight end Rob Gronkowski. In a video that surfaced on social media, Brady showed his upper body strength and coordination in several at-bats. Gronkowski took to the outfield to track down Brady's fly balls, showcasing his ball-tracking ability.
Brady played catcher in high school at Junipero Sierra in San Mateo, and the Expos projected Brady as a potential All-Star. They selected in the 18th round of the 1995 first-year player draft, but Brady ultimately followed his dream of playing football. He went on to play at Michigan but after an impressive outing, Brady joked via Twitter, "Wonder if that Expos offer is still on the table…"
Brady's baseball career is in the past but the Bucs' look to the future with No. 12 commanding the offense. Gronkowski has yet to disclose his intentions for the upcoming season.
Expectations for Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in 2022.
The phrase "second year jump" has become synonymous with players looking to ascend in year two. For Buccaneers' outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, he will have an increased leadership role on the field. In 2021, the Bucs selected Tryon-Shoyinka with the last pick in the first round. In Bowles' 3-4 base system with a variety of sub-packages, Tryon-Shoyinka was gradually eased into a rotational role on the defense. He completed the season playing 49 percent of the club's defensive snaps, with 30 percent on special teams. In the postseason, Tryon-Shoyinka posted a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.
This season, he is projected to become a full-time starter opposite Shaq Barrett, garnering high expectations.
"Obviously, we took him in the first round," Bowles described. "Going into year two, we expect him to have the nuances down with a lot of the things he did last year and expect him to come into his own. I don't expect him to be (Jason Pierre-Paul], I expect him to be Joe. He has a skill set all on his own that he could be a good player."
The former Husky standout has a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism, including superb closing burst. Having Will Gholston as the five-technique to occupy offensive tackles, will make Tryon-Shoyinka more effective at the second level. As he works to expand his pass-rush arsenal throughout the offseason with a variety of moves, Barrett commented on his ability to get to the quarterback.
"I think Joe could be a double-digit sack guy every year. I'm excited for him. In practice, I'm seeing him put the work in so it's just a matter of time for him to just get out there and get comfortable with it on a play-in, play-out basis, and then he's going to take off...he's going to really affect the game. It's going to be fun to play with him."
Tyron-Shoyinka flashed his ability last year to eat up space as he closed on opposing quarterbacks and this offseason will accelerate his growth process as he goes up against Tristan Wirfs and Donovan Smith during practices at the AdventHealth Training Center. His progression is one to watch throughout the offseason program.
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