The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got to work in inclement whether for a a second consecutive day at training camp as the rain once again kept the temperature down and the ball wet during practice. While nobody will blame it on the wet ball, Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense had a less than impressive morning with Jameis struggling with his accuracy and tossing a pair of interceptions.
Linebacker Richie Brown and safety Chris Conte came away with the interceptions. Dirk Koetter spoke after practice, and while he also noted being impressed by free agent J.J. Wilcox, and rookie Justin Evans, Koetter's heaped praise on Conte, who he called one of the best athletes on the team.
"Chris is really athletic. Chris is almost athletic like a corner. He can really run, he's long. I think Chris' confidence is up right now. He maybe in the past, would get down on himself too much. For no reason, in my opinion."
Evans was drafted to play, but Koetter's comments yesterday about needing to see Evans be a consistent tackler, and his comments today on Conte suggest it won't be easy for the more athletically gifted rookie to wrestle snaps away from the returning veteran.
Overall, the defense just looked better today, something the Bucs offensive-minded head coach admitted after practice.
"Our D is doing a good job," Koetter said. "The O just needs to put the ball away. It's that simple"
Yes, Winston needs to get better at putting the ball away and not forcing throws whether it's on a Sunday in September or a Sunday in late July, but his accuracy wasn't the only thing hampering the offense during today's practice. The defensive line provided Winston the closest thing he's seen to actual pressure in the pocket in months, and Koetter commented on the intensity up front after practice.
"You could really see the intensity in the team drills today because the defensive line really had good push," Koetter explained. "The quarterbacks have to get used to those guys right in there face. When they're over there working in 1-on-1 and 2-on-2, those are pretty much live pass rushes because they don't have to worry about hitting Jameis."
Cam Brate spoke to the media after practice, and he had an idea why the defense might be a little ahead of the offense so far, or should we say excuse!
"I think it's a little easier for the defense at the start of camp," Brate told the assembled media. "The offense, we're not really in rhythm yet. Once we get a couple more days under us, hopefully we'll pick things up a little bit, but the defense has really been making a lot of good plays, whether it be interceptions, forcing fumbles, I think the defense has looked really good so far."
While Brate and his teammates on the offensive side of the ball aren't exactly slaying their defensive teammates just yet, he sees the writing on the wall when it comes to just how dangerous the combination of he and rookie tight end O.J. Howard can be when paired on the field together at the same time. When asked if he thinks teams will play nickel against the Bucs when the team goes two tight, Brate explained why he thinks it's going to be very difficult for teams to remain in a base package.
"It will be tough to stay in base," Brate replied. "Whether they stay base or go nickel it's going to be good for us to run the ball or pass the ball. Whatever they decide to do, they can't defend everything."
Doug Martin continued to look strong on the practice field today (as running backs often do when people aren't tackling them) and spoke after practice about why getting back to football is a relief after going through everything he has over the last year.
"It's a real relief," Martin told 620 WDAE. "Just thinking back on it is a little surreal to me. Like wow, did that actually happen, but it did, and it happened for the better. I'm glad to be back out here and I'm ready to move forward from that and show everybody what I came here to do."