The Buccaneers got back to work Wednesday after a day off on Tuesday, and despite the fact that it was a new day of practice with a new emphasis, the results were very similar to what we had seen over the first four days of practice. Just as it had during the four days before the Bucs first day off, the defense looked very disruptive.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter mentioned early in his media session that his defense had the edge in practice. After being reminded that he had said that before, Koetter said it's pretty much been that way since camp began.
"That's pretty much every day, Koetter said before letting out a big laugh. "Yea, I think the defense is winning right now, but September 10th we're not playing each other, we're playing the Dolphins."
One of the players Koetter and defensive coordinator want to see more from this year is second-year corner Vernon Hargreaves. His coaches have asked Hargreaves to be more aggressive than he had been a season ago, and it's shown up since mini camps.
"Yea, Vernon and Grimes," Koetter told 620 WDAE. "Grimes had two really nice plays getting the ball out there in that last period. Vernon had one, Javien Elliot had one. Hey, turnovers is the name of the game. They're doing a good job."
As we've discussed on the air and written about during our training camp reports, one of the more interesting position battles this presason should be at the safety position. Today, Koetter spoke about why that competition is heating up, and why it wasn't even a competition at all before camp began.
"It's good, there was no competition in the spring when you asked me because two of those guys weren't out there," Koetter explained. "You can see J.J. Wilcox getting better every day, and Justin Evans, same thing. He's getting better every day. He's probably a little bit slower, I mean, J.J. has played football in the NFL and Justin's feeling his way a little bit like several rookies are. Then Keith Tandy, Chris Conte are real solid, just doing what you expect them to do right now."
Koetter also spoke briefly about what his third-year quarterback Jameis Winston needs to work on during camp, and it sounds like he's more worried about Jameis' approach than anything to do with his mechanics.
"Patience. Understanding the situation we're working on," Koetter said about what his quarterback needs two work on. "I thought he did a really good job of that today. It's kind of funky we start off in two minutes. In essence we started off like we're in the fourth quarter and we need a field goal to win, and then we got to 7-on-7, that was the first quarter. So the game was a little backwards today. Jameis, what he's working on, among other things is knowing the situation we're practicing that day and how he has to subtly adjust his game accordingly."
While Koetter explained that focusing on the situation and manipulating his game to fit the situation was something Winston needs to focus on in practice, he also mentioned that it's not something Jameis has struggled with during games.
"He's been good at it in real games," Koetter said. "I think in practice for all players, even though everything's scripted, there's chains, I think the players have a tendency to say, practice the play, practice the play, next play, next play, next play. Jameis can't really practice that way. For him to be as great as we want him to be, and as great as he wants to be, he's gotta understand exactly where we're at in the game."
When Aaron Jacobson and I hosted live from camp Saturday, we were joined by middle linebacker Kwon Alexander. Alexander spoke about how the Bucs locker room has changed since his rookie season, and how he now feels the room is tighter, and pushing in the same direction more than it had been just a few years ago. Today I asked Jameis if he felt the same way, and there was no question he does. While making sure not to step on any of his former teammates toes, in typical Jameis Winston fashion, he spoke about the quality of the character of the men who he now shares a locker room with.
"Absolutely. One thing about this locker room is we have great men in this locker room," Jameis told 620 WDAE. "I think that is probably what Kwon is probably trying to say is that we have great men in this locker room. Our leaders, Gerald, Clinton, people on offense, Mike, Ali stepping up as a leader, Kevin Pamphile stepping up as a leader. Joe Hawley still being an intricate role on this offense. The one thing about a team that you always have, you always have people with individual personalities, but we have great men on this football team."