Thursday, it was another training camp practice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and another interception returned for a touchdown for Jameis Winston. While it’s easy to get excited about the defense causing turnovers every day, or concerned about Winston throwing interceptions during camp, don’t. That’s not to say don’t concern yourself with Winston’s picks or not to be excited about the defense’s performance, but don’t allow a couple of practices to shape your opinion of how this team is actually going to play come September.
The reality is both sides are out there practicing plays without any kind of game planning, and without much concern for things like down and distance which play into every decision made during an actual game.
As Dirk Koetter mentioned Wednesday, Winston does need to do a better job at remembering the situation in practice, but as long as he continues to do a good of understanding the situation in game (which Koetter said he has done yesterday) it’s hard to get too worked up about what he does in practice.
With that said, Winston and the offense as a whole needs to start executing better, but the fact that isn’t hasn’t, isn’t all bad news. The good news is the offense hasn’t looked great to this point in camp because the defense has. It’s just practice, and the Bucs play some strong offenses early in the season, but to this point in training camp the defense looks prepared to be even more disruptive than at any point last season.
“We need to execute better on offense than we have been, but part of that is we’re playing good defense,” Koetter said after today’s practice.
Part of being disruptive in a Mike Smith led defense is confusing offenses by moving pieces around. Koetter was asked if his team growing more comfortable and confident within that defense will allow them to be more multiple. While he does expect Smith to add more wrinkles to his defense, Koetter also cautioned being too multiple, and stressed it’s more about doing what you do well than doing too much.
“There’s a fine line there between being multiple and then just being good,” Koetter said. “Just being good at what you do. More isn’t necessarily better, but that’s what training camp is for. Smitty and the defensive staff, they’ve got some good stuff they’re doing. They’re giving us fits right now. Not only is it a good scheme, they’ve got good players playing that scheme, so that’s even better.”
“The defense is working on some things that are going to be used later in the season. Some of it’s going to be used early. Some of it may not be shown in preseason. There’s a lot of nuances going on out there, so don’t feel like you have to report on every one of them,” Koetter joked.
One of the players the Bucs weren’t sure what to expect from on that defense is third-round pick Kendell Beckwith, and Koetter once again got into how special his return has been to this point, and how quickly Beckwith turned things around after a rough couple of practices before the veterans arrived to town.
“Kendell Beckwith eight months off ACL surgery, missed all the spring, was way behind,” Koetter explained. “Most of those guys when they’re hurt and they miss all of OTAs they talk about mental reps, but mental reps and doing it are two different things. Those first couple days in rookie practice when it was just out here, Kendall did not look good. He has come alive in this first six practices, and we’re really excited about him.”
One of the guys the Bucs have high expectations for on that defense is second-year corner Vernon Hargreaves, and he spoke about why the team still needs to work on communication, even though guys are much more comfortable with the scheme.
“We still gotta get better. We know it now, but we gotta perfect it,” Hargreaves said with determination in his voice. “We gotta perfect our signals, and we gotta keep talking. We gotta keep communicating every period, all day throughout practice. When we’re hot, when we’re tired, when we don’t feel like practicing, when we don’t feel like talking. That’s the part that we’re trying to improve on right now.”
In the category of iron sharpens iron, one of the guys who will help Hargreaves grow in practice this season will be veteran wideout and new Buccaneer Desean Jackson. Hargreaves knows what he can expect from Jackson on the field, but was still taken back by the veteran’s speed
“He’s a great player,” Hargreaves said about his new teammate. “It’s his 10th year in the league. You see him every year. He makes big plays. He makes splash plays. That’s what he does. Nothing’s changed about him. He’s dynamic, he’s a play maker, and I’m excited to watch him go against other DBs for once.”
Hargreaves went on to talk about Jackson’s speed, because while he wasn’t surprised that Jackson was fast, he wasn’t sure just how much of a challenge covering the veteran wideout would be.
“Did it surprise me? No, but I didn’t know it was like that the first time I covered him,” Hargreaves told 620 WDAE. “I knew he was fast, but it’s a whole different ball game when he’s lined up in front of you.”