Things are about to heat up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On Saturday, players took part in their last non-padded practice. Monday will kickstart the next step in the Bucs' preparatory process for the 2022 regular season. Increased installs will be implemented as evaluation commences in full. In shorts and a T-shirt, there is no way to truly assess the contact or physicality element of training camp until a session in full gear, as Head Coach Todd Bowles alluded to in his afternoon press conference. The time has nearly arrived. During Saturday's practice and throughout the duration of camp, several Bucs have continued to make splash plays. Here are the key takeaways from Saturday's practice:
Second-year outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has been a menace throughout training camp, dominating at the line of scrimmage practice after practice. On Saturday, the stellar streak continued. With a lethal get off and counter, Tryon-Shoyinka effortlessly fired around the edge for a free run at the quarterback for a would-be sack in game conditions. As the day wore on, he repeatedly won against a handful of tackles using an array of moves in his arsenal. Tryon-Shoyinka rushed from multiple spots in 2021 in order to maximize his time on the field on passing downs. The Bucs declined to re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul, fostering a larger stationary role for No. 9. As a full-time starter in 2022, Tryon-Shoyinka has been a bright spot on the Bucs' defense during camp showcasing elite bend, quickness off the snap and the ability to gain leverage. With rare closing speed and reckless abandon each play, Tryon-Shoyinka is on track for a potential breakout year with additional opportunities on the field to rush the passer and stop the run out of the backfield. He is a current top contributor and will be one to watch as pads come on. If the pace continues, Tryon-Shoyinka will likely be a focal point in blitz packages, stunts and twists this year for Tampa Bay.
"Joe-he's been ready for a while now," Shaq Barrett said. "He just had limited reps last season, but I think he most definitely did take another step forward this year. He is more comfortable and confident out there and he is just trusting what he sees."
Russell Gage Jr.
In a loaded wide receiver corps that is largely deemed the best in football, Russell Gage Jr. has been a one-man highlight reel every day at practice. Gage amassed at least five catches and two touchdowns on Saturday and is becoming a go-to target for Brady early in camp. In complete candor, Todd Bowles said earlier in the week that he does not believe No. 17 has been covered yet. Well, if keeping score, Gage is 4-0 after today's outing. From crossing routes, sideline snags to high-pointing in the end zone, Gage has done it all. During the red zone drill on Saturday, Gage hauled in a toe-tap sideline catch on a dart from Brady. Building continuity with a new quarterback takes time, but to say Gage is on the right track would be an understatement. Lining up in a variety of spots along the formation, Gage has created another dimension to the Buccaneers' high-powered offense.
Play of the Day: Lavonte David Pick-6
Today's play of the day was a microcosm of the stellar production from Lavonte David all camp. Following the snap of the ball, David dropped back into coverage and read the quarterback. He anticipated and reacted, picking off Brady's play-action pass before the intended receiver reached the mark. The club's most durable defender has shown hip fluidity in man coverage throughout camp and has been a tight end eraser, undercutting intermediate passes. His mental fortitude translates to his instinctual play. With a number of top-caliber tight ends on the schedule this season including Chiefs' Travis Kelce and 49ers' George Kittle, David's services will be coveted. After a decade of production lending to "top off-ball linebacker" conversation, David enters Year 11 on a mission. He sets the standard on defense and continues to emphasize synergy with teammate, Devin White.