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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Palmer, Moore, Thompkins Shine Under Friday Night Lights 

Competition escalates for the remaining receiver spots on the Buccaneers depth chart and Trey Palmer, Deven Thompkins and David Moore made an impression on Friday against the Steelers 


The first three spots on the Buccaneers depth chart at wide receiver are entrenched with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage Jr. However, the fourth and fifth spots are up for grabs. Since Gage returned from a leg injury that sidelined him during camp initially, he has been utilized in different groupings, including 11 personnel. 

After the headline trio, the Bucs will keep two or potentially three receivers on the final 53-man roster. There are multiple candidates vying for the vacancies and several made an impression during training camp, including Deven Thompkins with daily highlight-reel catches between the hash marks. An undrafted free agent out of Utah State last season, Thompkins locked up the punt return job last season after the club parted ways with Jaelon Darden. He continues to defy the odds stacked against him with a 5-foot-8 frame. Thompkins has the speed to stretch the field vertically and the high-point prowess to win in jump-ball situations. Additionally, the Bucs are hopeful that their sixth-round draft pick, Trey Palmer, can claim a coveted spot with a rare second gear to generate separation.

 Underneath the Friday night preseason lights at Raymond James Stadium for the preliminary opener, both Palmer and Thompkins impressed. Palmer tallied the team's first touchdown of the night, building momentum for Tampa Bay. Baker Mayfield lobbed an eight-yard pass to Palmer in the back corner of the end zone during the second quarter. The ball flew just out of reach of the defender's hands and into the awaiting grip of Palmer, who managed to hang on and get both feet down for the touchdown. He concluded the game with four targets and four receptions for 33 yards. Palmer's 33 receiving yards marked the most by a wide receiver drafted by the Buccaneers in their first preseason game since Sammie Stroughter logged 42 receiving yards on Aug. 15, 2009 at Tennessee. 

"I am just blessed to be here," Palmer stated. "Out of all the places, I am here. I am just blessed that I had the opportunity to make that play and make that catch…I just love competition, so I do not look at it [NFL] different. I just look at everything as competition." 

Palmer certainly made his mark, as did Thompkins. He may not have wowed on the stat sheet (two receptions, nine yards), but his speed and shiftiness creates a threat that defenses have to account for. Whether it was a motion or sweep that drew defenders away and caused another teammate to have success, or a would-be tackle for loss that turned into a positive gain by balance/elusiveness, Thompkins became a bright spot with relentless effort. 

David Moore, an offseason acquisition in May, led the team in receiving with 66 yards off three receptions. Offensive coordinator Dave Canales reached back to his former team, the Seahawks, to add to the receiver depth. In 50 career games with Seattle, Denver and Green Bay, Moore accumulated 78 career receptions for 1,163 yards and 13 touchdowns. One of the biggest plays of the day came from Moore, who churned upfield after completing a catch, but was flagged for a facemask penalty. The play was still a 38-yard gain minus the penalty and a first down. Moore showcased his skills and now the pivotal point for all three receivers is consistency over the next two preseason games to cement a spot.

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