For the fifth official practice of training camp, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put pads on for the first time. Throughout camp, the level of intensity increases as additional installs are implemented and players strive to cement their roles. The evaluation process officially commences as competition heats up in full gear. There was no live tackling on Monday but as more physicality is exerted, coaches have a better assessment of progress. Here are the top takeaways from Monday's practice in the 101-degree heat index.
Scotty Miller Show
After displaying his quick release and precise route-running during one-on-one drills, Scotty Miller had a stellar showcase during team drills. The speedster hauled in a contested catch during team period, splitting two defenders. He ran a short out route, then hit the defense over the top, sprinting towards the end zone. Tom Brady threaded the needle and Miller capitalized. During the two-minute drill, starting at the 40 with 19 seconds left, down by two, Miller created separation down the right sideline and Brady hit his go-to target in stride. The momentum-shifting gain placed the offense in field goal range, setting up a chance at a game-winner. The top four receiver spots are entrenched with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin (recovering from ACL injury), Russell Gage and Julio Jones. In the battle for the final two spots, Miller turned heads on Monday morning. A sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Miller became a key component to Brady's success during his second-year campaign. Miller became an integral part of the Bucs' Super Bowl LV run as injuries decimated the receiving corps, compiling four catches, 80 yards and a touchdown in the postseason. Miller missed significant time in 2021 with a seven-game stint on injured reserve due to a turf toe injury and this season he vies for resurgence.
Ross Cockrell Has Standout Day
Several players are striving to make their mark on the field to solidify the fifth cornerback spot for the Bucs on the coveted yet elusive 53, including Ross Cockrell, Dee Delaney and Rashard Robinson. On Monday, Cockrell turned it up a notch. He registered an interception off a bobbled ball by Deven Thompkins. Several plays later he followed suit with another impactful play, notching a forced fumble. Every rep is valuable during camp, and Cockrell embodied that phrase on Monday. In 2021, Cockrell recorded 43 total tackles and seven pass deflections in 17 games, starting four contests. With a contagious chippy attitude and ability to play in both man and zone, Cockrell upped his stock with a standout day on the grass.
Play of the Day: Mike Evans Leaping Touchdown
It is no surprise to see the four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver under this category. With eight 1,000-yard seasons to begin his illustrious career (NFL record), Mike Evans made a highlight-worthy grab on Monday. Activated off PUP, Don Gardner drew Evans in a one-on-one battle. Despite good coverage, Gardner was no match for the jump-ball king. Evans adjusted to the ball in the air and hauled in the catch. To the utter delight of the crowd, Evans showcased his physicality at the catch point. As an ideal possession receiver with rare size, strength and leaping prowess, Evans is a catalyst in the Bucs' aerial attack.
Jose Borregales Delivers
The battle between veteran Ryan Succop and challenger Jose Borregales continues. In contrast to having the contestants alternate kicks, each kicker has been allotted a day. Succop began with a perfect 6-for-6 on opening day, then Borregales went 7-for-8 on Thursday. No. 19 received the nod again on Saturday, making the first six and missing the seventh off the right upright (51 yards). Borregales made his final kick, to compile a 7-8 outing. He was awarded another kicking period on Monday, going 7-7 initially with a long 51-yarder; Two came during a hurry-up period, simulating a rush on the field during a game-time setting. He then got two more kicks after the end-of-half kicks. The first hit the left upright and bounced off. Borregales made the second, concluding the day 7-8. "As we get these guys kicking more, we'll see what happens," Head Coach Todd Bowles stated.