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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Training Camp Takeaways: Day 3

Top highlights during Day Three of the Buccaneers’ 2023 Training Camp as players hit the field for practice

Takeaways Day 3 TC

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers completed their third training camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center with a climbing heat index in Florida. The competition continues to rise, and the energy is palpable as veterans and rookies alike stive to ascend. On the grass during non-padded practice, several players impressed during two-minute drills and the team period. Here are the top takeaways from Day Three: 

Zyon McCollum interception

The top two corner spots on the depth chart are set with former Auburn tandem Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean. The nickel corner role is up for grabs following Antoine Winfield Jr.'s move to a full-time free safety gig, and second-year player Zyon McCollum is getting snaps at the hybrid spot. McCollum had three starts last season during his rookie campaign and accumulated 24 combined tackles (17 solo) in 13 games played. 

On Friday, McCollum snagged a pick-six off John Wolford. Miscommunication on offense led to optimal positioning for McCollum, who took full advantage. In year two, the game has slowed down for McCollum, who continues to take gradual strides on the gridiron. At Sam Houston State, McCollum profiled as a ball-hawking corner, with instinctive play and stellar ball skills at the catch point. He finished his collegiate career with 13 interceptions and six forced fumbles, showcasing physicality in coverage. McCollum drew recognition for his ability to mirror the release and to phase the route. With the Buccaneers in 2023, McCollum will strive to forge a permanent role in the team's secondary, capitalizing off Friday's pick-six. 

Baker Mayfield Finds Chemistry with Mike Evans 

In the head-to-head quarterback battle between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask, journeyman Mayfield took his turn with the first-team offense on Friday. Both Mayfield and Trask led successful two-minute drills, culminating in touchdowns. In a promising development, Mayfield found synergy with Evans under the Florida heat. He launched a dart to Evans on a crossing route in the end zone for a touchdown. Earlier in the week, Mayfield described Evans' innate ability to "get open" and the duo certainly found chemistry on Day Three. 

Evans used deceptive maneuvering to create subtle separation, boxing out defenders to make catches over the middle of the field and along the sideline to move the chains. Mayfield had great zip on the ball, quickly processing read-to-read. He took command, showing confidence in progressions and delivered the ball with precision. Mayfield took the field with a fiery demeanor, impressing in situational football on Friday. 

Calijah Kancey Showcases Explosion 

There is an acclimation period for every rookie who enters the NFL. During the first-year, recent draft selections vie to prove their value on the field by implementing the instruction taught in the classroom. Buccaneers' first-round draft pick Calijah Kancey has already exceeded expectations. General Manager Jason Licht assessed the impressive number of "wow" plays that Kancey has produced in non-padded work. During Friday's practice, every time I made a mental note to watch Kancey and the defensive line during the team period, I wrote down the same phrase, "Kancey: affecting the backfield, explosive get-off."

Lined up next to Vita Vea, Kancey has taken full advantage of his counterpart eating up blocks. On selective plays, the interior of the Bucs' offensive line hardly had time to get their heads up post-snap before Kancey was already there disrupting on a few would-be sacks if contact was permitted. 

"The relationship is growing every day, Vea described. "We're still getting to know each other – it's kind of still early, but he is showing a lot of upsides for his future. He is surprising all of us every day with his knowledge of the game, his work ethic and how he is playing the game. I'm excited to get out there with him and continue to grow."

Kancey took the collegiate world by storm at Pittsburgh, filling a variety of different roles in Pat Narduzzi's 4-3 base scheme to maximize his penetrating prowess. He lined up everywhere from nose tackle to the five-technique, wreaking havoc on offenses. He continued to emerge in 2022, solidifying his first-round draft status. Kancey led all FBS defensive tackles in tackles for loss (14.5), with 46.8 percent of his tackles coming in enemy territory, and became the program's first unanimous All-American since Aaron Donald. He also received ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors for his contributions in the trenches.

More than the physical gifts, Kancey prioritized mental fortitude, building a calculated pass rush plan every week for his opponent. He rarely used the same move twice – not wanting to provide a tendency blueprint to the guard/center – and would instead, use a move to bait blockers in order to set up his next one. With dedication to enhancing his craft and tantalizing athletic traits for an interior defender, Kancey has been a bright spot during camp thus far for the Bucs. 

Shaquil Barrett Status 

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who is working his way back from a torn Achilles, received the day off on Friday. Barrett did not face a setback but rather, his absence was due to cautionary measures by the coaching staff to keep the sack-aficionado at full strength for the remainder of camp. Barrett passed his physical and was cleared to fully participate in training camp. He practiced on Wednesday and Thursday, prior to receiving a veteran rest day. 

"Yeah, we're bringing him along," Todd Bowles stated. "There's nothing wrong with him. He had a good two days; we don't want to overstimulate him right now. He'll be back out there on Sunday."

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