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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs QB Competition Gets Tighter 

As training camp continues for the Buccaneers, the head-to-head battle between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask heats up

Trask QB Competition

The old adage "competition breeds success" has certainly materialized for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback room. The head-to-head battle for the starting quarterback role between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask has fostered growth, developing a narrowed focus in both contestants.

When asked if the battle for the Buccaneers' starting quarterback job in 2023 is even tighter now then when training camp begin, Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales responded, "Absolutely."

"The first couple of days, just the experience that Baker brings, being in camps and going through installs, you can see where the offense was gelling really well," Canales said. "The timing of the snaps was really critical for us and probably an edge for Baker to start off, just in terms of the smoothness of the offense. But, it just took a couple of days for Kyle to really settle in. What we saw is over the last two practices, Kyle has really showed what he can do stretching the field with his arm, getting the ball out quickly and making decisions. So, I am really excited about both of those guys and the progression that they have made."

The Buccaneers are alternating the first-team reps between Mayfield and Trask, and Trask worked with the first line to begin the 11-on-11 team period during the club's indoor practice on Tuesday evening. Trask look poised and decisive in the pocket, guiding the ball to every layer of the field. He threw a touchdown to Mike Evans during the red zone period and hit quick darts to both Chris Godwin on a screen and threaded the needle to Cade Otton over the middle of the field as Otton boxed out a defender. The game has slowed down for Trask, and he is standing taller, both physically and mentally.

"What is happening with Kyle is when I am calling a play, he is finishing the play the sentence before I can finish it, and that speaks to him studying the offense and studying the formations and being really comfortable with what we are calling," Canales stated on Trask's ascension.

Baker Mayfield had several noteworthy highlights during practice as well, including a pass over the middle to rookie tight end Payne Durham in the red zone period. The next play, he connected with Taye Barber for another score in the back of the end zone. The highlight of the day came as practice ended. Mayfield lobbed a 50-plus-yard pass to Deven Thompkins. Thompkins, a 5-foot-8 speed demon, split two defenders and leapt into the air to come down with a sensational acrobatic catch down the right sideline to the cheers of teammates. The energy became palpable following the highlight-worthy grab and ball placement by Mayfield.

Additionally, Mayfield was picked off by Keenan Isaac during Tuesday's practice but it is important to note that training camp is the stage where quarterbacks have to take chances in order to learn. When signal-callers get into tight window situations, they take the gamble to see if they can throw the ball into certain windows against certain coverages. It is better to navigate scenarios now than on Sundays later. Trask echoed the same sentiment following his interception to SirVocea Dennis days prior.

"If you are going to take a chance, it's going to happen now, as opposed to on a Sunday, Trask stated. "The play to SirVocea [Dennis] – that's probably a chance that you take, and you learn from. You want to take those chances now so that you can learn from them and keep getting better and put them in your mental bank down the road."

Coming into camp, the narrative between Mayfield and Trask was set. Mayfield, an NFL journeyman, has the edge in experience, having passed for 16,288 yards and 102 touchdowns in six NFL seasons with the Browns, Panthers and Rams. Conversely, Trask, 25, has only been active for two games over a span of two seasons, appearing in the low-stakes regular-season finale at Atlanta last year in which he completed 3 of 9 passes for 23 yards.

Now, the storylines have begun to shift. As the competition heats up during camp, twists and turns will undoubtedly transpire on the field. The real determination of who wins the starting role will be made after evaluating their performances during the preseason. For now, the arms race has gotten even tighter, garnering attention in Tampa Bay.

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