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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kyle Trask Gets Another Extended Audition

Second-year QB Kyle Trask handled most of the reps for the second weekend in a row on Saturday night in Nashville, and while the Bucs’ offense sputtered it proved to be valuable work for the young passer

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have four quarterbacks on their preseason roster but only one they really need to take a long look at.

The Buccaneers had no intention of playing 45-year-old Tom Brady in the first two preseason games, even before he was granted a leave of absence from training camp to attend to personal matters. They know exactly what they have in veteran reserves Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin, and only set aside a handful of warmup reps from Gabbert, the primary reserve to Brady during the regular season. Griffin has been with the team since 2015 and is most likely to end up on the practice squad, like he did last season.

That leaves Kyle Trask, the former University of Florida star the Bucs drafted in the second round in 2021. Head Coach Todd Bowles made it clear in the offseason that one of the team's primary goals during the three-game preseason slate was to get a long look at Trask, and the team has stuck to that plan. Trask threw 33 of the Bucs' 38 passes in the Week One loss to Miami and got almost all the playing time again on Saturday night in Tennessee.

The results have been mixed, but even that is difficult to fully quantify since Trask has played with almost exclusively second and third-teamers and the Bucs have, of course, gone with a very limited script of plays so as not to give upcoming opponents a scouting advantage. Trask completed 76% of his passes for 258 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the opener, then followed with 105 yards on 11 of 24 passing against the Titans, with one interception. The Bucs lost to Tennessee, 13-3, and very rarely found any rhythm on offense, but it was still a good learning experience for the young passer.

"It's football. It's not always the cleanest," said Trask. "Obviously it wasn't up to our standards today, and all we can do is learn from it and get better. It's football and a lot of stuff is out of our hands. All you can do is keep on playing no matter what happens."

From a purely statistical standpoint, Trask's second outing was worse than his first, but Bowles did not see Saturday's effort as any sort of regression.

"You can't say he took a step back," said the coach. "Sometimes it was the pressure, sometimes they had the routes covered and he was sitting in there. I've got to look at the tape to say whether he played efficient enough. Nobody played efficient on offense – we only had three points. So you can't just put it on the quarterback. There were a lot of factors involved in that."

Trask was under pressure much of the night, absorbing four sacks, two of which caused him to fumble, though both were recovered by the offense. He also had one nice improvisational flip to running back Rachaad White called back on a holding penalty, negating a big gain, and had a pair of deep balls just go off the hands of wide receivers Scotty Miller and Kaylon Geiger. Trask wasn't satisfied with his effort in Nashville but still believes he's making significant progress.

"I think I've shown that I've grown a lot, especially since last year," he said. "It is a very vanilla game plan but we've just got to execute that game plan. We weren't playing to our standards today and all you can do is learn from it.

"No matter how the game's going you still have to lead the offense and make sure everyone's got their head on straight. Personally, I've been feeling a lot more confident every single day, just getting more reps under my belt. I go back and watch the tape, chop it up, get better and move on."

Trask's longest completion of the night came in the third quarter, when he slid up in the pocket to avoid pressure and found rookie wideout Deven Thompkins on a deep crossing route. The throw was perfect, settling into Thompkins' hands over the defender and before the sideline. Trask and Thompkins have frequently hooked up on impressive plays during training camp practices, including the joint ones with Tennessee on Wednesday and Thursday before Saturday's game.

"He's making a lot of plays," said Trask of his young teammate. "He plays with a lot of tenacity and loves to get the ball in his hands. He's always able to get open and he's done a great job so far."

Thompkins was part of a group of mostly untested pass-catchers taking part in Saturday's game, as virtually every established receiver and tight end on the roster was held out due to injuries or coaches' decision. Again, that makes it difficult to get a clean read on just how well Trask is playing in his second NFL preseason, and certainly Saturday's output didn't burnish the resumes of any of the Bucs' offensive reserves. But the team had a plan to put Trask in the spotlight in August and all the extra work is surely helping in his development in a significant way.

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