E.J. Biggers is still recovering from July 27 foot injury, Anthony Gaitor has been limited on the practice field this week and Eric Wright missed the second half of Tuesday's field session after taking a hard fall. All of which meant a whole lot of high-leverage reps for third-year cornerback Myron Lewis.
Lewis took advantage on Tuesday, intercepting two passes during full-team periods during the course of the two-hour practice. He has started both of the team's first two preseason games – the first one at left cornerback while Aqib Talib was temporarily out, and the second as the extra DB in a nickel package – and while he didn't have any notable "splash" plays in those two outings he has continued to look sharper and sharper on the practice field.
"I'm getting a lot of reps out there, getting a better feel for the defense," said Lewis on Tuesday. "I'm getting a little swagger underneath, high energy, I feel healthy and I'm able to make plays on the ball. Getting the reps against the receivers, getting all the balls thrown at you, you're able to put together your technique against them."
Lewis, a third-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2010, has dealt with a series of hamstring ailments in his first two seasons in the league but feels healthier than ever in his third training camp. The nickel back job still appears to be wide open on the Buccaneers' defense – and with it, the role of first-man-in when a starter goes down – and Lewis knows he's in the mix, especially with Biggers likely sidelined into September.
An obvious next step for Lewis would be to stand out in one of the two remaining preseason games, and he's likely to play extensively when the Patriots come to Raymond James Stadium on Friday. In fact, he will get a lot of work against New England's lethal passing attack because the Patriots are also going to visit One Buccaneer Place for a pair of joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday.
"As DBs, that's going to be a great learning curve for us, trying to get our hands on the football and playing against some great receivers," said Lewis of facing the Patriots. "As a defense, you've got to attack the ball. Playing defense is all about takeaways and turnovers.