The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans got together once again on Thursday, and perhaps the most entertaining portion of their two-hour shared workout was a one-on-one period pitting Tampa Bay receivers against Tennessee defensive backs in the red zone.
The tighter confines around the end zone made a drill that typically tilts toward the offense a bit more competitive and the Titan defenders made a number of notable plays. For the Buccaneers, there were a couple of standout performers, including Scotty Miller, who got open and caught the pass on all three of his reps (though admittedly one was just out of bounds). The star of that particular show, from the Bucs' point of view, was undrafted rookie wideout Devin Thompkins. Team Writer Brianna Dix took a closer look at his impressive outing.
There were other developments of note at positions other than wide receiver on Thursday, however, as the team rebounded from a low-energy performance on Wednesday.
"I wasn't pleased with the team [on Wednesday]," said Head Coach Todd Bowles. "It wasn't the defensive backs, it was the team. Today I thought everybody had a lot more energy and played hard. We still made a few mistakes but they played as a team, they played together and they communicated well and we got something out of it today."
Other positional news:
* Quarterback: Eleventh-year veteran Blaine Gabbert has filled in as the starting quarterback while Tom Brady has been away from the team attending to personal matters. Gabbert only played briefly in the preseason opener but completed all five of his passes, including one for a touchdown to wide receiver Jaelon Darden. The Bucs have relied on Gabbert as their primary backup to Brady for three years in large part because they value his experience and knowledge of the offense. That shows in practice, as well.
"He's been good," said Bowles of Gabbert's current role as the lead quarterback. "It's been great for him mentally. The plays might not be there all the time but the mental reps and what he's getting, and making the right play is very important, not just making a 'wow' play. He's been making the right plays so it's been great to have him there."
* Outside linebacker: After Cam Gill suffered a Lisfranc injury in his right foot in the preseason opener, requiring surgery, the Buccaneers quickly went out and signed former Las Vegas Raider Carl Nassib. Nassib is also a former Buccaneer, having spent two productive seasons (2018-19) in Tampa before signing with the Raiders, the second of which was in the Bucs' current defensive system. Nassib will still need some time to reintegrate himself into the defense fully but the coaches have found a way to get him into the mix immediately.
"We tailored some things for him where he could just go in and play and didn't have to think as much, and he handled the work load pretty good as far as him being in shape," said Bowles. "We'll start to expand what he knows as he goes forward but he did a good job going in there."
View some of the top photos from Buccaneers joint Training Camp practice with the Tennessee Titans.
* Interior offensive line: Since the start of training camp, second-round rookie Luke Goedeke has run exclusively with the second-team offensive line at left guard while Aaron Stinnie, Nick Leverett and Brandon Walton have alternated days at that spot with the first team. On Thursday, Goedeke got his first shot at the top job, taking the first snaps at left guard in every drill.
"Now's the time to give him a look," said Bowles. "You can't put him in early because he hasn't learned everything. He's learned enough now to go in and play. Like we've said, we're giving all these guys shots at guard and his time has come."
While Leverett has inserted himself into the left guard competition – and actually drew the start there in the preseason opener – he has also worked at the other two interior-line spots and is in the mix to replace the injured Ryan Jensen at center. Bowles was asked about Leverett's 'feisty' nature in practice but focused instead on his performance.
"He's a tough guy and he's a strong guy," said the coach. "We're not looking for feisty, we're looking for guys that can get the job done. We don't want any penalties going into the season like that. We make sure we coach that and Nick understands that. But we know he's tough. He's a film junkie – he comes in and works hard every day and he's competing for a spot."
* Defensive line: The Buccaneers' starting lineup in their base defense, with three down linemen, appears to be set at Akiem Hicks and Will Gholston flanking nose tackle Vita Vea. That makes the Bucs' top draft pick, Logan Hall, a rotational part of that group at the beginning of his career, which may be related to his still-developing grasp of the Bucs' run defense. However, the team was most excited about the interior pass-rushing potential Hall could deliver when they drafted him 33rd overall in April, and he already looks the part in that regard.
"Again, he's learning the system," said Bowles. "He does a good job. He's still learning the run a little bit, some of the things we like to do technique-wise, but his pass-rushing is outstanding and we really like that in him. But we're bring him along slow."