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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Training Camp Goals: 2024 Buccaneers, Numbers 30-39

Our look at the presumed camp goals for all 91 players on Tampa Bay's roster now runs through the players wearing jerseys in the 30s, including All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and a number of fresh rookies

winfield jr

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will release their first public depth chart of the 2024 season in the week leading up to their preseason opener at Cincinnati on August 10. The Buccaneers' coaching staff would probably wait almost a month longer to put out that document if they could, but the NFL requires a depth chart for the purposes of such game day materials as flip cards for use by the media and broadcast teams. The truth is, coaches are in no hurry to print a hierarchy of players at each position because those can be fluid while training camp and the preseason are still underway and the roster is still bloated to 91 players.

Determining that pecking order and the best combination of 53 players for the regular season roster is one of the team's two main goals for every training camp. The other is the full absorption of the offensive and defensive playbooks so that the team is ready when the games start to count in the standings. However, individual players have their own goals, from making the team to securing a starting job to improving particular areas of their games. As the Bucs' 2024 training camp rapidly approaches, we're taking a look at that latter set of goals. What can we assume are the individual objectives for each player on the roster this summer?

Today, we're examining players who wear jersey numbers in the 30-39 range, and while those numbers are officially open to running backs, tight ends and wide receivers, eight of the 10 men below are members of the secondary, including at least three projected starters.

View photos of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking part in Day 2 of Mandatory Minicamp at AdventHealth Training Center on June 12th, 2024.

#30 RB DJ Williams: Williams can look to one of his new Buccaneer teammates for inspiration, as just last year running back Sean Tucker made the active roster after coming to town as an undrafted rookie. Tucker even got some early-season playing time over incumbent reserve Ke'Shawn Vaughn. Williams played his college ball at Auburn, Florida State and Arizona, in that order, and averaged 5.2 yards per carry in his two seasons with the Wildcats. The Buccaneers drafted Bucky Irving in the third round, re-signed veteran Chase Edmonds in the spring and are bringing back Tucker, so it won't be easy to claim a spot on the roster behind starter Rachaad White. That will surely be his goal anyway. Falling short of that, a spot on the practice squad would be a very valid goal for Williams, as well. Patrick Laird essentially held that job for the past two seasons but is no longer with the team, so the Bucs may be looking to devote a practice squad spot to another back in 2024.

#31 S Antoine Winfield Jr.: Winfield publicly shared his goals for 2023 in a viral social media post, and they were topped by winning All-Pro honors and becoming the highest paid safety in the NFL. Incredibly, he achieved both of them, so whatever Winfield is focusing on for 2024, the Buccaneers hope he is thinking big. Statistically, it would be hard for him to top his output from last year, given that he became the first player in the NFL since all the data was available in 1999 to record 100-plus tackles and have at least three of each of the following: interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. If Winfield did want to set a specific statistical goal, though, he could aim at topping his career-high of three interceptions from last year. Otherwise, given the return of Jordan Whitehead to the Buccaneers, perhaps he could work toward giving Tampa Bay the best safety tandem in the NFL. For Winfield, it would certainly be a valid goal to simply try to make as many big plays in 2024 as he did in 2023.

#32 DB Josh Hayes: The Buccaneers list Hayes as a "DB" on their roster because, after they selected him with a sixth-round pick in 2023 they thought he might potentially help out at either cornerback or safety. As it turned out, Hayes only logged 29 defensive snaps as a rookie but he was immediately a core special teams player, getting in on 73% of those types of plays. That gives him good value on the active roster as is, but perhaps Hayes will be looking to show in training camp that he can also fill a significant role on defense, wherever that proves to be. The Buccaneers traded Carlton Davis to Detroit in March, and while they have Zyon McCollum ready to step in as the new starter, the rest of the secondary could shape out in a variety of different ways. Hayes will join the likes of Bryce Hall, Tavierre Thomas, Christian Izien, Tykee Smith and Kaevon Merriweather in trying to earn reserve or sub-package roles.

#33 OLB Jose Ramirez: The Bucs got a lot of out their draft class in 2023, but the one member of that group who did not get on the field was Ramirez, the last of their three sixth-rounders. The coaches definitely saw promise in Ramirez but the team felt like it had a lot of depth at the outside linebacker position so he ended up on the practice squad as a rookie. However, the Bucs have since had to release Shaquil Barrett in a cap move (he's now with the Dolphins) and during the offseason the coaches touted Ramirez as a player who could help fill that void. So the goals for Ramirez heading into camp are pretty straightforward: He will work to show that he should be on the 53-man roster in Year Two, and then he'll try to carve out a relevant role in the edge-rushing rotation. The Bucs want to get more pressure off the edge in 2024, so any player who shows that sort of promise in camp and the preseason will be hard to keep off the field.

#34 CB Bryce Hall: The Bucs may have McCollum and Jamel Dean earmarked as Week One starters, but Head Coach Todd Bowles has made it clear they see Hall as a starting-caliber outside cornerback. As Bowles also said, a team can never have too many of those, in part so they can weather the types of occasional injury-related absences that Dean and Davis ran into last year. While the two outside spots appear to be filled heading into camp, Hall will be given the opportunity to alter those plans if he proves too productive to keep off the field. Barring that, Hall, a fifth-round pick of the Jets in 2020, will simply be looking to show the sort of promise he displayed in his first two seasons – including a 2021 campaign in which he started all 17 games – after being limited by injuries in 2022 and 2023.

#35 CB Jamel Dean: Dean has already stated very clearly what he wants to do in 2024: Catch the football more often. Dean has seven interceptions across his first five NFL seasons, no more than two in any given campaign and zero from last year. He's an accomplished cover man with size, speed, length and agility, and he brings a lot of value to the Bucs' defense even without high pick totals. But it's clear he would like to add that element to his game, and he probably won't be in line for any postseason honors, such as the Pro Bowl, until he does. Dean also wants to play a full 17-game season for the first time in his career and given the changes that have been made to the cornerback room around him in the last couple years, he may be looking to emerge as the leader of that group heading into his sixth season.

#36 CB Chris McDonald: The Buccaneers put nearly $100 thousand in guaranteed money into the contract they used to land McDonald as a rookie free agent in May, which is more than the typical undrafted signee gets. That indicates he was a priority for the Bucs in the so called "eighth round" of the draft, and that the team has strong hopes that he can stick around in some capacity. That would be nothing new in Tampa; Izien, Merriweather and Keenan Isaac all got playing time in the Bucs' secondary in 2023 after arriving earlier that year as undrafted free agents. At Toledo, McDonald showed an ability to get his hands on the football, breaking up 32 passes in his collegiate career. While special teams value should always be a priority for young roster hopefuls, McDonald could get his foot in the NFL door this summer by showing in practices and games that he can be as successful breaking up passes at the next level. That's something the Bucs want more of out of their secondary overall.

#37 CB Tavierre Thomas: Thomas was one of the two veteran cornerback additions the Buccaneers made in free agency, and in his case the former Brown and Texan has shown that he can handle the slot corner job. The Buccaneers have a couple other obvious options for that assignment in Izien, the incumbent, and Smith, the third-round draft pick, but Thomas should be in the thick of the battle as well. After seeing limited playing time in three seasons in Cleveland, Thomas was on the field with the Texans defense for at least 56% of the plays in each of the past three campaigns. The early note about Bryce Hall applies to Thomas here, too: A team can never have enough reliable cornerbacks and will probably have occasion to get all of them on the field at some point during a long season. Thomas can use camp to show that the abilities that attracted the Bucs to him in free agency would be very useful to the defense in Tampa, as well.

#38 S Rashad Wisdom: Wisdom started all but one of the 57 games he played at UTSA and won first-team all-conference honors in three different years, so he comes to Tampa with a lot of game experience and a track record of making plays, including two pick-sixes among his five interceptions. Wisdom is in the same boat as a lot of young and inexperienced (on the NFL level) players ready to go to camp with the Bucs this year, trying to catch the eyes of the coaching staff with plays made on the practice field and in the preseason games. While most of those players will make the occasional flashes over those six weeks, what the coaches are looking for is the ones who will consistently show up, practice after practice. That's a worthwhile goal for Wisdom, who could hope to duplicate Merriweather's 2023 success in making the active roster out of the game, or if that proves out of reach a spot on the practice squad is a great way for a player to start his pro journey.

#39 S Marcus Banks: Ditto for Banks, who signed with the Bucs after the 2024 draft following three seasons at Alabama and two at Mississippi State. Banks got into the starting lineup later in his college tenure than did Wisdom and finished with 13 career starts, so he has a little bit less experience and game tape on defense. He did record two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns, however. Like Wisdom and several of his new Buccaneer teammates on defense, he will have pretty obvious goals for his first NFL training camp: Show long-term promise, make as many plays as possible in practices and games and demonstrate quickly that he can learn from the inevitable mistakes a rookie is going to make and not duplicate them. The 53-man roster is the ultimate goal but a start on the practice squad would be a strong achievement as well.

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