Football is officially back! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrapped up their first day of training camp on the outdoor fields at the AdventHealth Training Center. During drills, offensive and defensive linemen, tight ends and linebackers were required by NFL mandate to wear Guardian Caps, soft-shell pads that attached to the outside of the helmet as part of the league initiative to foster innovation and eliminate all avoidable head contact. Under the direction of first-year Head Coach, Todd Bowles, the journey to contention begins now as players underwent a variety of positional drills and team periods. During on-field instruction, there were many things to digest from Day One. Here are the top takeaways from Wednesday's festivities on the grass.
Receivers Came Up Big
The Bucs' receiving corps put on a show between the hash marks and that was without Julio Jones participating. The newly-acquired Jones underwent a physical before signing his one-year deal with Tampa Bay, serving as a spectator during practice. Those vying for the remaining roster spots behind headliners Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Jones and Russell Gage Jr., showcased their skill underneath the Florida heat. Breshad Perriman had the first notable play of the day. He adjusted deep on a post and split two defenders to haul in the catch, then took off for the end zone to the cheers of the crowd. To continue the trend, Cyril Grayson Jr. added to the mix. On a go-route, Grayson leapt into the air and made an acrobatic one-handed catch for a touchdown. Both are beginning to emerge early on, rising their stock towards a spot on the coveted final 53-man roster.
Left Guard Battle
The highly-anticipated training camp battle – who will replace Ali Marpet – is officially underway. Aaron Stinnie took reps with the first-team during team drills, anchoring the interior of the line alongside Ryan Jensen. His challenger, second-round selection Luke Goedeke continues to acclimate to the NFL as he adjusts hand placement and stresses coordination to the left side of the formation. Goedeke played right tackle in college at Central Michigan and through development, he is projected to be the team's future at the position, warranted by the high draft selection in April. Stinnie, provides experience, filling in for injured Alex Cappa during the Bucs' Super Bowl LV run and stabilizing the unit. He re-signed with the club on a one-year deal and will continue to work for a permanent role, providing Goedeke with an allotted development period.
Todd Bowles has built a reputation of masterfully disguising coverages that appear to be one way but shift post-snap to keep offenses off-balance. Well, today at practice was no exception. During the team period, Antoine Winfield Jr., Mike Edwards and Logan Ryan made an appearance together. With the addition of Keanu Neal and Ryan, there will likely be many creative packages to come during camp, maximizing their versatile skillsets. Ryan made a splash play, undercutting a pass over the middle of the field that resulted in Carlton Davis' pick off the deflected pass. As he looks to cement a full-time role, Ryan certainly made an impression on Wednesday. The physical, hybrid safety has stellar ball skills in man coverage and is a stout tackler, consistently making stops in the run game. Instincts and recognition led to Ryan's successful outing.
Shiftiness Out of the Backfield
He may not have practiced with the first team, but rookie running back Rachaad White had an impressive day. Regarded as the shiftiest back in the Pac-12 last year, White displayed his agility and balance, jump-cutting through contact as he gained momentum getting north. He showed his tempo to set up blockers and let holes develop, then quickly accelerated post-cut. The No. 2 battle is wide open between White, Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard. As White continues to develop and learn playbook installs, his ceiling will rise. His speed, patience and vision present an upside in the Bucs' backfield.
Defensive line Rotation
During team period, Akiem Hicks took first-team reps as the three-technique, alongside Vita Vea and Will Gholston. Last month, the Bucs fortified the defensive line by signing the former Chicago Bears' standout to a one-year deal. In 110 starts, Hicks has amassed 40.5 sacks, 387 tackles, 111 quarterback hits, 73 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. In addition, Tampa Bay used its first draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on Houston's Logan Hall. He joins the established rotation and provides creativity in blitz packages for Todd Bowles to dial up beneficial one-on-one pass rush situations.
View some of the top photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.