TAMPA – As you might expect, One Buc Place was all abuzz on Friday. While a construction crew continued its work on the team’s new indoor facility, a packed house of fans chanted the “Tampa – Bay’’ cheer, ”oohed’‘ and “aahed” every pass catch and probably wondered who in the world was wearing No. 1.
The answer to that question is DeSean Jackson. In case you didn’t know – and many don’t – the Bucs new deep threat always wears No. 1 during practice. It’s something he’s done for years, but he’s listed as No. 11 on the roster and will wear No. 1 on game day so confusion is understandable.
Either way, it was a good start to a long process of getting ready for the start of the season, but we warn all fans, whether you were in attendance at the workout or just following along on social media, not to get too worked up over the reports of what went down just yet.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was of course asked how he felt about what he saw of his players today and he handled the questions professionally as always but there was probably a bit of him that would have liked to have answered the way Patriots coach Bill Belichick did.
We urge you take a look at the answer Belichick eventually gave after he fielded a series of questions from a host of reporters regarding players and how they performed on the first day of workouts because it really helps to put things in perspective.
Now, that’s not to say that all of what these teams are doing right now is unimportant. It is. It’s all part of the process of getting better, and with that in mind, here are three observations culled from a morning spent watching the Bucs play touch football for nearly three hours.
Doug Martin is still the Bucs best running back and he’s being treated as such.
Martin will miss the first three games of the regular season as he serves out the last three games of the four-game suspension he earned for violating the NFL’s PED policy last year, but he is still the player at the top of the Bucs running back depth chart. That became obvious when Martin was the first to get the ball in virtually every drill he ran and then split the first-team snaps with Jacquizz Rodgers when the Bucs went into 11-on-11 work. It’s possible someone will eventually emerge as a better option than Martin, but right now there is only one two-time Pro Bowler wearing pewter and red and as long as he’s available he’s going to be the one getting the bulk of the work at running back.
The safety jobs are wide open
Koetter was asked which position battles were the most competitive going into camp and he mentioned the kicker’s job (of course) and safety. Just as they did during offseason workouts the Bucs started work in camp on Friday with Chris Conte and Keith Tandy as their starters, so second-round draft pick Justin Evans and veteran J.J. Wilcox will have between now and the start of the season to prove they’re better options. They very well may dp that but there’s little doubt the Bucs like Conte a lot more than the fans do and are anxious to see if Tandy can build on that four-pick finish he had to last season. The pairings here are sure to change as camp goes on but this will indeed be a battle worth watching all through the preseason.
Rookie WR Chris Godwin is legit
Mike Evans said those very works about the third-round pick out of Penn State on Thursday and Godwin backed up the praise yet again on Friday. On one play, he literally snatched the ball away from cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III while running a slant route and on another, he maintained his focus, grabbed a floater out of midair and ran down the field after the ball was tipped at the line by linebacker Devante Bond. Now, getting too excited about plays like that at a time like this is exactly what Belichick is talking about in the video above. Nothing really matters until the pads go on, but for the first day, Godwin provided a lot of excitement and added a little more credence to the growing belief that the Bucs might have pulled off a major heist getting him when they did.