It went so well that Head Coach Bruce Arians is calling it early. After what he and the staff saw out of the rookies in the past two days, he’s canceling tomorrow’s practice feeling confident enough in their evaluations of the players in attendance.
Speaking of evaluations, the players that have an easier time standing out are the skill positions; the wide receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks, defensive backs and running backs (to some degree each). But no contact means no physicality, so positions that thrive on that trait have a little bit tougher time showing their stuff.
“A lot of skilled players – the DBs, the linebackers, quarterbacks, receivers, the running backs,” Arians said on who benefits most in a camp like this. “A couple of them made some really nice cuts. For the big guys, it’s a detriment to put them out there. It’s not fair to them because they can’t use their physicality and that is how they play the game. For the rest of them, it’s a real good judge on how athletic they are, how smart they are, how fast they can learn and if they can maintain it from a walkthrough through a practice to the next day to the next day.”
--About some of those receivers. The team drafted one offensive player this year in wide receiver Scotty Miller. The speedy wideout from the MAC has proved himself against some tougher competition these past few days. While the natural comparison for him was to former Bucs slot receiver Adam Humphries, Miller’s place looks to be more on the outside where he can stretch the field. The problem with the slot is that it takes a very physical receiver to play in it given the amount of hits you take in traffic and the amount you’re needed to block. While Miller is scrappy, he probably won’t last against NFL talent too long with his 5-10, 176-pound frame. A better comparison, which he said himself in today’s media availability, might be the other wideout that departed this offseason: DeSean Jackson. Miller ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at his pro day and is therefore more valuable in stretching the field vertically, which would put him more on the outside – exactly where Coach Arians envisions him.
“They all work their tails off,” Arians said of the receivers. “The way we run routes is so different. We count steps, so they are like one, two, three running slow as heck. Scotty [Miller] flashed yesterday. He ran a couple good routes today. The young kid from Richmond (Cortrelle Simpson) had a nice catch, I like him. The young kid from Buffalo (Anthony Johnson) had a nice catch. I will learn all of their names one of these days, but they made nice plays. They are going to get plenty of opportunities starting Tuesday because they will be on that field and somebody else will be on this field and everybody is getting 40-50 reps a day.”
-- Coach Arians also named both Contrelle Simpson out of Richmond and Anthony Johnson out of Buffalo as players that had good days along with Miller. Johnson has great hands and instincts – even when he’s off on his route he can still make the catch. Another receiver that stood out, too, was Spencer Schnell out of Illinois State. He got a lot of the same types of looks that Miller did and excelled on all of them that I saw. He’s a little bit bigger than Miller and looked a little more able to handle a slot position. He had a couple good catches including a long one down the near sideline that would have been good for a touchdown.
View the top photos from the second day of Bucs rookie mini-camp.
--Remember how yesterday Coach Arians said that Devin White would have had a pick-six but he dropped it? He made up for it today. He got right in front of the receiver and had a ball hit him square in the chest with a pretty loud thud. He caught it and took it back to the end zone this time.
“He caught the pick-six this time,” Arians chuckled. “He had to, it hit him right in the chest. He better catch it.”
Oh - and yeah, one more thing about Devin White. That IS him up top in that picture directing the defense.
--Sean Murphy-Bunting was getting in on the blitz from the nickel spot today. You’ve heard the word versatility floated around when describing this year’s draft class and more specifically, the crop of defensive backs. Both Murphy-Bunting and safety Mike Edwards have experience at the nickel position in college. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles has said that in his defense, safeties can also play nickel, so it seems that those two are the likely candidates to be in the mix for the role come training camp and beyond.
“It’s one of the reasons we loved him coming out because he played a lot of nickel as a corner,” Arians said of Murphy-Bunting. “[Defensive back] Mike Edwards played nickel as a safety, so it gives us two different types of body types to put in there. When we go to six and seven DBs, they will both be down there. So, that was his position flexibility. That plays so much when you’re drafting guys, that they are not a one position player. He has that length and quickness and speed as far as receivers, it’s hard to be in the spot if you can’t block because we are going to run the football. If you can’t block, everybody knows it’s a pass, what the hell good are you? So, there’s got to be some size. I’ve had a lot of small guys who were tough as nails. [Broncos wide receiver] Emmanuel Sanders comes to mind, he would block his tail off and he’s not very big. It’s always the three best guys and we will find you a way to play there.”
--Offensive guard Zack Bailey from South Carolina looks to be the trench-dwelling standout on that side of the ball. Again, there’s no contact so it’s hard to say but he moves really well. He was also named by defensive tackle and seventh-round draft pick Terry Beckner Jr. as a guy that was tough to go up against in college. Both players came from the SEC and Beckner played mostly on the left side where Bailey was right guard when Mizzou and South Carolina would clash.