Head Coach Todd Bowles discusses his impressions of rookie wide receiver Deven Thompkins.
As pads come on and competition rises during training camp in late July, players ascend and rosters begin to take shape. Evaluations commence as players rise to the occasion. One such player thus far for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during mandatory minicamp at the AdventHealth Training Center is undrafted rookie Deven Thompkins. While vying for a spot on the coveted final 53, he has caught the attention of Head Coach Todd Bowles. With great initial burst to beat coverage off the line of scrimmage and lethal quick-twitch moves, Thompkins has continued to make plays with his explosiveness, garnering praise from Bowles from the podium on Thursday.
"I would love to see what Thompkins does in training camp," said Bowles. "He's quick, he's fast, he's explosive off the ball and he's made some good catches. So, we want to see how he continues to learn and what he does in training camp and preseason. I'll be looking at him."
If Bowles said he will be watching Thompkins, that is a telling indication that everyone should. A bold statement made and now Thompkins must back it up with production during camp.
Defensive tackle Logan Hall provides his insight on working with Hall of Fame Bucs' legend, Warren Sapp.
For a young rookie, who better to learn from than a man who has accomplished the greatest feat in football: immortality in the Hall of Fame. Players who attended last Tuesday's voluntary OTA practice received hands-on instruction from Bucs' defensive tackle legend Warren Sapp. Sapp worked with Logan Hall one-on-one as the linemen underwent bag drills. An expanded pass rush arsenal with the prevalence of pass-oriented attacks in the NFL is essential for the men in the trenches, and Sapp encouraged Hall to maximize his length to gain leverage on the opposition.
"Really enjoyed learning from him," Hall recalled of Sapp's tutelage. "He's got a lot of juice and he was actually out there demo-ing some of the reps, so I thought that was really cool to see. He always said, 'Long levers are strong levers' and me playing with length and as big as I am trying to use that to my advantage, that was a really great tool and advice from him."
Hall notes his excitement level to rush the passer in Todd Bowles' attack-styled scheme.
For a three-technique, the main responsibility is to blow past the offensive guard to cause disruption in the backfield, forcing the offense to shift. This specific alignment – often symbolizing the best pass rusher along the defensive line – creates more opportunities to wreak havoc along the line of scrimmage. Rookie Logan Hall opened up about his excitement level playing in Todd Bowles' system, maximizing his ability.
"Just me playing three-technique specifically, having the freedom to pass rush. In a lot of situations, I will have a two-way-go, which is ideal for me because it gives me a lot of opportunities to work as a pass rusher," he said.
Hall can use his footwork and quickness to attack one gap and counter to the other. Based on where Hall lines up, in a two-way-go, he has the option to go inside or outside. Hall can shoot the A or B gap and have another lineman loop to attack the other gap. For context, the layout for receivers is similar to D-line play. In a two-way-go, a receiver has the option to release inside or outside to set up the cornerback in the way he wants. This process will enhance Hall's mental and physical preparation to act on impulse, garnering boosted production in collapsing the pocket.
Quarterback Tom Brady describes creating continuity with Russell Gage as the 2022 season looms.
With the 2022 season on the horizon, the biggest priority for Tom Brady and Russell Gage is gaining trust in one another. For Gage, it means learning the intricacies of the Buccaneers' routes, the terminology and figuring out pace. The work put in during training camp will set the foundation for the upcoming season. There is additional pressure to perform with the current status of the Bucs' receiving corps. Chris Godwin is coming off a significant season-ending knee injury in 2021 and is undergoing rehabilitation. He could start the year on a reserve list, placing the spotlight on Gage. He proved himself to be a reliable third-down target for the Falcons and must quickly adjust to the Tampa Bay 'way.' Every player has to step up, beginning with Gage. The former NFC South rival can stretch the field vertically and horizontally, raising his stock value. With a pass-oriented attack and several heavy-hitters lining the schedule early on, the stakes are higher for Gage. Brady elaborated on the crucial role Gage must fill.
"We signed him to a contract, and he has to come in and do a great job. In the time I've spent with him, I really enjoy it and I think he has a great opportunity," said the quarterback. "That is a very important role for an offense that throws the ball as much as we do. We have very favorable passing conditions. You need a lot of good receivers. We have depth at receiver – obviously, Mike [Evans] is a great player. Chris [Godwin] is coming off a pretty significant injury, so Russell has to do a great job. And Scotty [Miller], 'BP' (Breshad Perriman), Cyril [Grayson Jr.], Jaelon [Darden], Tyler [Johnson] – all those guys who have experience and have played, they have to do a great job too. It's a very competitive room. I think Russ, when he is out there, there is a lot of work that needs to go into the next six weeks to be ready. We're challenged right out of the box this year."
Brady shares his perspective on the coaching/leadership style of Bowles.
Entering his 23rd year in the league and touted as the best quarterback to have ever played, Tom Brady knows a thing or two about defensive coverages and schemes. At this point, he has seen it all. To discuss the challenge of having to play against Bowles and the innovation in his disguises and multiple fronts, is high praise. Over the years, Bowles has created an esteemed reputation around the league for maximizing the strengths of his players, and the word "pressure" has become synonymous with his defenses. Those players attack and penetrate in a variety of ways to keep offenses off-balance. The quarterback may think the coverage is one thing, and when the play begins, it is something different entirely. Comfort is the ultimate thief of growth, but Bowles has never been consistent or predictable, dialing up a variety of stunts and blitzes to keep quarterbacks on a swivel, including Brady. The Buccaneers' man under center described Bowles' detail-oriented approach that has materialized into success on the field in the defensive performance.
"We have a great relationship," Brady said of Bowles. "Obviously, I played against him for a long time too. He is very detailed, a very tough, hard-nosed coach – a little bit of a throwback. You coach in New York and that toughens you up a lot. You coach with B.A. (Bruce Arians) for a long time, and you coach with [Bill] Parcells – you get toughened up. I think he believes in a certain style of play, which is reflected in the way our defense performs. I think we've got to go play great complementary football between what they do defensively and what we need to do offensively, and how the kicking game relates to that. There has been a lot of competition throughout OTAs and through training camp. I've always loved Todd as a coach, even when he was coaching against me. I always had a lot of respect for him because every game we played against him, we had to go earn it. It was some new scheme and new design. It was nothing simple. That's tough for a quarterback. If you can have that ball in that quarterback's hands and you can make him question what he is doing with the ball, I think you are doing a good job. I think Todd has done a great job of that over the years."