The Buccaneers' intentions were clear this offseason: the team wanted to give Jameis Winston more weapons in the passing game. Tampa Bay went out and signed one of the top available free agent wide receivers in DeSean Jackson and added two more pass-catchers in the draft, selecting tight end O.J. Howard in the first round and wide receiver Chris Godwin in the third.
All three were out on the field together working with their new quarterback last week after the team's rookie mini-camp came to an end the week prior. While OTA practices are non-contact, Head Coach Dirk Koetter has seen promise in his two highly-drafted rookies.
"Chris (Godwin) is off to a fast start," Koetter said. "Like I said the other day, Chris and O.J. [Howard] as we got – some of those other guys aren't practicing – but Chris and O.J. are both doing fine. O.J. has showed up probably a little bit more as a blocker than a receiver the first couple days. But Chris is – a couple small mental blips but the physical stuff is there, for sure."
It's unclear where either player will fit into the Bucs' scheme this season, given the talent the team returns from a year ago. Evans and Jackson will be the team's No. 1 and No. 2 receivers, while Adam Humphries, last year's No. 3 receiver, remains on the roster. Howard steps into a situation where the incumbent starter at his position was tied for the league-lead in touchdown receptions for tight ends.
Whether it's being a full-time "starter" or fulfilling a situational role, the Bucs will need both Godwin and Howard this season. Koetter has been impressed with both players thus far, but knows there's still a long way to go until Week 1.
"I like the maturity of both those guys," Koetter said after a separate practice earlier last week. "When we come from Phase Two to Phase Three we start back over at install No. 1. The rookies actually got install No. 1 in rookie mini-camp, so wait a couple days (to see if their heads are spinning with all of the new information). When we get installs three through 13, I think those heads will start spinning a little bit more."
Photos of Howard during the Bucs' rookie mini-camp practices.