The '90s gave us the best music of any decade yet. (Fight us.) For most of us, it offered our first access to the internet. It introduced "Friends" and "Seinfeld." The '90s built the Mall of America and tore down the Berlin Wall. The '90s gave us a lot.
And as we continue to run down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 90-man training camp roster and speculate upon the camp goals for each player on it, the 90s give us a lot of very big men who are going to be key to the defense remaining one of the NFL's best.
This is the last installment of our 10-part 'Camp Goals' series, which is good because the first training camp practice is only two days away. We covered Vita Vea and Rakeem Nunez-Roches when we looked at the potential goals for the Buccaneers who wear jerseys in the 50-59 range, but most of our look at the Bucs' defensive front has had to wait until this last set of 10. Now we get to the Buccaneers' top 2022 draft pick, the team's key late-in-the-offseason veteran signee, the elder statesman of the defensive line, and more.
#90 DL Logan Hall: The Buccaneers' first pick in this year's draft, Hall is also the one rookie (apart from punter Jake Camarda) most likely to step immediately into a big role. The former Houston standout would surely like to hit the ground running when training camp begins. The Bucs envision him as a penetrating three-technique who can provide the type of interior pressure that is invaluable to NFL defenses. The issue for Hall – and this is a good thing overall for both him and the team – is that when the Bucs go 'good on good' – he'll be getting his feet wet against such outstanding blockers as Ryan Jensen and Shaq Mason. Hall will also be trying to learn the different stunts and blitzes that the Buccaneers employ to try to get a free run at the quarterback. He will have the benefit of learning from a veteran who has excelled in the same sort of role as his in newcomer Akiem Hicks.
#91 DL Benning Potoa'e: Vita Vea's former teammate at Washington, Potoa'e has spent two unbroken years on the Buccaneers' practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He has been able to get a little regular-season action due to the practice squad elevation rules introduced two years ago, but he has not yet earned a spot on the 53-man roster. That would obviously be the top goal for any player on his career path, and there's certainly room for that to happen if the Buccaneers elect to keep six defensive lineman up. Tampa Bay's coaching staff obviously knows Potoa'e well by this point and have a good feeling for what he can offer on game day, but Potoa'e may be seeking to show those coaches that he is ready to take his game to another level.
#92 DL Will Gholston: Gholston has had a career resurgence over the last three seasons thanks to his perfect fit as a strongside 3-4 end in Todd Bowles' base defense. Two years ago, in the Bucs' Super Bowl season, he actually led all Tampa Bay defenders with 20 quarterback hits. Last year, in his ninth NFL season, he set a career high with 4.5 sacks. Both accomplishments are particularly notable because Gholston frequently comes off the field in sub packages when the Bucs go with just two down linemen on obvious passing downs. In his three seasons in Bowles' system, he has played 44%, 57% and 44% of the team's defensive snaps. That higher number in the middle was in 2020, when Vea missed 11 regular-season games. Now the Buccaneers are without Ndamukong Suh, and though they drafted Hall and signed Hicks there still could be an opportunity for Gholston to pick up some more snaps and get a chance to rush the passer a bit more often. The 10th-year veteran has always been a team player and seems content in his current situation, but perhaps he will have a goal of showing he should be on the field just a bit more.
#94 DL Willington Previlon: Previlon hasn't been in the building as long as Potoa'e, as he joined the Bucs' practice squad in Week Five last year, but he's had plenty of time to make an impression on the coaching staff, and it was good enough to earn him another contract for 2022. Like Potoa'e, he'll have a better chance to make the 53-man roster if the team elects to keep six interior linemen for the regular season. Previlon has some assets to work with, including excellent length and good explosiveness off the line, so it's not surprising that the Bucs wanted to keep him around for further development. That may end up happening on the practice squad again, but Previlon can certainly set for himself the goal of showing enough to get on the field during the regular season, whether that be right out of the gate or later in the campaign when injuries become a factor.
#95 DL Deadrin Senat: Senat is getting a fresh start in Tampa, where he happened to play his college ball, and he would obviously like to get his career back on track. He played well enough at the University of South Florida to become a third-round pick (90th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons, and he played a decent amount as a rookie in 2018. That season, he appeared in 15 games with two starts and was on the field for 370 defensive snaps, though he did not record a sack. However, he was mostly a healthy scratch in 2019 and 2020 and he lost last season to a torn pectoral muscle. The Falcons waived him off IR in November and he signed with the Buccaneers shortly before the draft this spring. Senat is thickly built and strong and could factor into the picture as a reserve nose tackle candidate.
#96 DL Akiem Hicks: Hicks has missed a decent amount of time in recent seasons due to various leg injuries, but when he's been on the field he's proved to be as disruptive as he was during a 2018 Pro Bowl campaign. Hicks had 7.5 sacks that season and from 2016-18 totaled 23.0 sacks and 53 QB hits, which are excellent numbers for an interior pass rush. Hicks will come to his first Buccaneers camp presumably looking to demonstrate that he is healthy and still the same high caliber defender in the middle. Hicks will likely be sharing playing time primarily at the three-technique with Hall, and while every player on the roster is trying to carve out as much playing time for himself as possible, he might also be looking to serve as a mentor for the rookie lineman.
#97 LS Zach Triner: There isn't a whole lot of nuance to this one. Triner has been a perfectly dependable long-snapper for the Buccaneers for the past three seasons, apart from seven games he missed due to a hand injury last fall, and dependable is exactly the trait teams are looking for at that very specialized position. Triner also showed his grit in last year's season-opener against Dallas when he suffered that hand injury in the first half but played through the pain and delivered the snap on the game-winning field goal at the end. He is the only long-snapper on the roster in this camp, so all Triner has to do over the next six weeks is continue performing his job exactly as he has for the last three years.
#98 OLB Anthony Nelson: Here's a reasonable goal for this fourth-year pro heading into training camp: Build on the momentum he built down the stretch last season. The Bucs drafted Nelson out of Iowa in the fourth round in 2019 and his rookie season was slowed by injuries. He had just one sack while playing in all 16 games in 2020 but last year improved that total to 5.0. All five of those sacks came from Week Nine on and he had one in each of the Bucs' last three games, two of which he started while Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett were sidelined. Tampa Bay's coaches have been high on Nelson since he arrived due to his nonstop motor and his good work in the run game, and they weren't surprised to see him emerge as a more productive pass rusher last year. Nelson now heads into the final season of his rookie contract and could be set up for a more robust second deal – hopefully in Tampa but potentially somewhere else in free agency – if he continues on his upward trajectory. With 2021 first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka the frontrunner to replace Pierre-Paul in the starting lineup, Nelson can demonstrate that he's the clear best option to be the oft-used third man in the OLB rotation.