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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What to Watch at Training Camp, August 13

A few things we'll be watching when the Bucs take the field on Thursday.


Photos from the Bucs' training camp practice at One Buccaneer Place.


1. Defending jump balls.
The defense didn't intercept a pass during team drills on Tuesday, but redeemed themselves on Wednesday with a handful of picks, including one from Danny Lansanah that was returned for a touchdown. If there was an area the defense struggled, though, it was defending jump balls; Jameis Winston connected with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson for touchdowns on jump balls during 11-on-11 drills. Sure, it's a tall task to defend a jump ball intended for Evans or Jackson, but it will be interesting to see what the Bucs' corner and safeties learned from yesterday's film and what they will do today to improve their performance in that area.  

2. Charles Sims' role.
Sims is currently listed as the No. 2 running back on the Bucs' depth chart, though Head Coach Lovie Smith has said that the initial depth chart hardly holds any weight. Ahead of Sims is Doug Martin, while Bobby Rainey is listed at No. 3. Rainey and Martin are a similar body type, and Rainey had a successful season as a receiver in 2014. So if Martin is the lead back, where will Sims fit into the equation? Keep an eye on Sims in the red zone and on first and second down. 

3. The pass rush.
On the interior and exterior, the Bucs' strength along the defensive line is their ability to rush the passer. Gerald McCoy has been impressive, to say the least, during camp, working against the first-team offense during 11-on-11 drills and dominating in one-on-one work. George Johnson, who the Bucs traded for this spring, has also put together two impressive practices on back-to-back days since returning from a minor injury. The Bucs' defenders can't touch the quarterback, but keep an eye on a few "would-be" sacks the Bucs rack up on Thursday.

4. Michael Koenen's versatility.
Koenen's primary job is to punt, there's no doubt about that. But he has a few different roles that will help his chances of returning as the Bucs' starter. He's currently listed as the starting punter, but is also listed as the starting kickoff specialist, starting holder and No. 3 placekicker. Spencer Lanning, who is trying to beat Koenen out for the punting job, isn't listed anywhere on the depth chart at kicker, kickoff specialist or holder.

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