After a week where it seemed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense had the upper hand every day in practice (although Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter might disagree on that) the Bucs offense got things going on Friday, as Jameis had his first turnover free day of practice.
“I don’t know if the defense was a little bit tired, but the offense came alive a little bit today, starting in that two-minute period,” Koetter said. “They went right down the field. DeSean Jackson and Jameis had it going a little bit today. This might have been Jameis’ best day at training camp.”
While Koetter has spoken about the things he needs Jameis to work on during camp, today the Bucs head coach stressed that it’s the minute details of the game his young quarterback is focusing on. When Koetter spoke about Winston’s decision making, it was on the smallest details.
“Jameis knows how to make decisions,” Koetter told 620 WDAE. “Coming from the program he came from and the record he has, when we’re talking about the stuff Jameis has to work on it’s microscopic. This stuff is so tiny – knowing when to take the check-down, knowing when to go for the big play, knowing when to scramble. Some of our best plays come off Jameis scrambling. He’s an excellent scrambler. When everyone’s not going the same speed out there, it’s not always a true picture. We try to make it a true picture for him, but it’s not always easy. That guy, Jameis, is working around the clock on making his game better. We need him to sleep more, actually, is what we need him to do. He’s making progress. He sure is.”
The offense was solid today, but perhaps the biggest story of the morning was a perfect morning for much maligned second-year kicker Roberto Aguayo. Aguayo was good from deep, and even on the skinny posts. Aguayo’s morning was good enough that it seemed to really get the attention of his head coach.
“Yeah, he was lights out,” Koetter said of Aguayo. “Best day of training camp, best day in a long time. He looked great today.”
But Koetter didn’t stop there. He was clearly impressed with Aguayo’s day.
“He’s been good,” Koetter said. “These guys we talked about in the spring, usually out of 10 kicks it’s a one kick difference. But today, Roberto was money on both ends. I don’t think he missed all day. Yeah, he was money. Whatever he ate for breakfast, he better it eat it every day.”
Roberto spoke after his best practice of camp as well, and he sounds like a young man trying to come to camp with a different focus.
"I was just making it more than what it really is. You come into the NFL and you think – there are things that you've got to do a little better,” Aguayo explained. “It's a job. But at the end of the day, keep doing what you're doing. Take it back to when you were young and all you did was go out there and have fun. Enjoy the ride. That's one of the things Coach Koetter says, 'Enjoy the ride,' and I'm trying to do more of that."
Whether or not Roberto can continue his success, he sounds like he believes he knows what he was doing wrong a season ago.
"Trying just to overdo things,” The Bucs second-year kicker said. “Obviously, you're trying to get better and trying to be a perfectionist at every little detail, but at the end of the day you're going to get too cluttered in your head. You've just got to relax, go out there and have some fun."
The interesting thing is Aguayo has hit kicks in practice that it seemed he just didn’t have the leg for during games last season. We’ll have to see what happens when the lights go on, but right now Aguayo is giving veteran kicker Nick Folk everything he can handle in the kicker competition. It’s going to take more than a couple of good practices to prove the Buccaneers can rely on Aguayo.
Any good offensive day starts with the guy who handles the football more than any other player on the team, Center Ali Marpet. Early reviews of Marpet’s transition to Center have been nothing but positive. When the team announced Marpet’s move he explained to the media that seeing the calls at the line and communicating them to his teammates would be the hardest part of the move for him. Maybe the coaches could tell you something I’m not smart enough to see, but early on Marpet looks completely comfortable at his new position. Today he talked about how the move is working out.
“90 percent of the looks are very manageable and then there [are] just these little subtleties that you need to get right,” Marpet explained. “Those exotic looks, and things like that – that’s where it gets complicated.”
The Bucs new center explained that the communication aspect of the position has gotten easier and easier, but it’s seeing what he needs to see is the part that’s the biggest challenge.
“It’s seeing then communicating, so it’s the seeing part,” Marpet told 620 WDAE. “Making sure that we’re all on the same page – yeah, that’s been the hardest part. But again, it’s coming along.”
Chris Baker missed practice for the second time in three days, and Robert Ayers didn’t suit up today either, but Koetter says do not be alarmed, the team is going to start giving some guys veteran days during camp because they don’t need to see what those guys can do, and there’s no reason to wear them out before it counts. While it seems odd that Baker would need a second day off in three days if he’s not banged up, the strategy of resting big veteran players with mileage on them is a wise strategy by Koetter and the Bucs.
“We’re going to start rolling some guys out,” Koetter said. “Today’s the third day of four-straight days in pads and some of those guys who have played a while, we need to protect their body. I mean, you see it all over the league. We believe in getting to the first game as healthy as we can and guys that we know what they can do – we need to see some of these other guys and these other guys need more reps.”