Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Versatility in College Helped Prepare Mike Edwards for Role in Bucs New Defense

Rookie safety Mike Edwards has played all over the field in a collegiate system that placed a lot of responsibility on its defensive backs. That’s about to pay off in Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles’ aggressive and versatile defense that the Bucs now employ.


As much as the aggressiveness of Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles' schemes are talked about, that trait is complemented by versatility. Part of the way he's able to be aggressive is through the confusion he's able to create by doing things like shifting players around or by showing what you think is a standard four-man rush that you've been seeing the past series, while ultimately rushing five out of same look that you have no chance of picking up... just as an example.

Those blitzes come from all over the field, too. During yesterday's blitz period of practice, nickel cornerbacks, safeties and so many linebackers rushed the quarterback. Just wait until contact is allowed.

We've talked a lot about the responsibility that will fall on rookie linebacker Devin White, who is essentially the 'quarterback' of the defense as the defensive signal caller from the middle linebacker spot. However, he isn't the only first year that's going to have a lot of responsibility in this system and be expected to be an immediate contributor.

"They say they are going to do a lot with me," rookie safety Mike Edwards said. "Right now, they've got me at free safety. I was playing strong safety earlier in the year when I first got here and then they moved me to free [safety]. So, we'll see how it plays out. I'm just ready to play wherever they put me at."

View some of the top photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.

Edwards played collegiately at the University of Kentucky, where he says he was used all over the field in a scheme that heavily utilized their defensive backs and back levels of the defense. It's resulted in a comfortability and understanding of the game overall for Edwards.

"We played a lot of DBs out there," Edwards said. "I played a lot of nickel, dime, safety, corner. I've played a lot of different positions, so I feel like coming in here, Coach Bowles has a great scheme, great defense and I feel like he has a lot of DBs out there at a time so wherever he likes me at, I can play."

That's changed since the spring, where Edwards was working primarily at strong safety. He says Bowles views both the free and strong safeties as essentially interchangeable, though, so knowing both positions can only be beneficial. The free safety position itself requires a level of versatility that Edwards' diverse background helps with, as well.

"He likes to mix it all up," Edwards said. "[There is] not really one main thing, like a free safety just playing the middle field – I blitz, cover guys, stack the box and different things like that. So, he definitely has a great scheme for our defense. I just try and prepare for whatever he sets me up for and wherever I line up at – wherever he's got me positioned at. Like I said, I've been doing that since college and high school. I've been playing all over the field, so wherever he has me, I'm comfortable."