The Bucs had some positives in their preseason opener in Pittsburgh on Friday night. And that includes, what may be their biggest asset, their receiving corps.
Starting with the opening drive with quarterback Jameis Winston, it became obvious, quickly that Tampa Bay has a multitude of talented pass catchers that can be utilized throughout the season.
Winston went 5 for 6 for 40 yards on his throws, including two completions to third year receiver Chris Godwin. The second of which, Godwin scored on (above) from nine yards out to cap the opening 81 yard TD drive. Godwin came on strong at the end of last season with 59 catches and 7 TDs, as the compliment to Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans.
And, it’s obvious, that the new coaching staff of Bruce Arians with his play caller Byron Leftwich look to utilize his talents more this season.
Tampa Bay also boasts having two of the best pass-catching tight ends in football with Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. Brate battled a hip injury through much of last season, but appears to be back fully healthy during this training camp. And, he has been a favorite target of Winston, especially in the red zone, throughout his career.
Howard, the Bucs first round pick two years ago, is a big talented tight, end but has suffered ankle injuries at the end of each of his first two seasons in NFL. Yet, when healthy, he is a dynamic large down the field pass-catching threat, as well.
Throw-in Speedy second-year receiver Justin Watson out of Penn, who had four catches for 37 yards against the Steelers Friday night, and a free agent veteran deep threat in former Cleveland Brown Breshad Perriman They will be competing to see the field with one of the several young receivers trying to land one or two of the final roster spots.
Those include third year player, Bobo Wilson, who played with Winston at FSU or an undrafted free agent like Spencer Schnell ,who caught seven balls for 119 yards against the Pittsburgh second and third team Friday.
Again, the Bucs have no shortage of guys to go to.
And, that also opens the possibility that Tampa Bay might look for a trade with a team in need of one of those receivers, especially if the Buccaneers could get a solid draft pick. Then again, GM Jason Licht, and a new coach in Arians may choose to keep five or six of the best ones in the event of injury, quality of competition, etc.
The Bucs may have concerns in other areas like offensive line and with a young inexperienced secodary, but catching footballs?
That apparently won’t apparently be one of them.
Positive injury update news for Bucs DT Vita Vea
Bucs coach Bruce Arians gave another positive update Sunday on one of his star defensive players he’s counting on to come back from injury. It looks like hulking defensive tackle Vita Vea is still on track to potentially play in the season opener September 8th.
After the Buccaneers Sunday morning training camp workout, Arians was asked, if there was any new news on Via resting and rehabbing the sprained ligament in his left knee? He told the media:
"Obviously, when you’re put in game-winning situations and your young players perform, you’re proud of them, and they did exactly that."
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 18, 2019
“He’s getting better and better everyday. No pain (in the knee). So, I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’s gonna be ready (opening day),” Arians said plainly.
The former first-round pick a year ago out of the University of Washington was injured almost two weeks ago in a one-on-one pass blocking drill, crumbling to the ground with the Bucs and their fans holding their breath. However it turns out it was only a sprain ligament that did not require surgery and Vea could still possibly play at the beginning of the regular season, including the opener with the 49ers.
Vea was seen walking on the sideline Friday night during the Bucs preseason game with the Dolphins with the aid of a heavily braced left knee.
This is the second straight training camp that Vea has been sidelined with a significant injury. Last year, he suffered a torn calf muscle on the second day of workouts and missed all of the preseason and the first three games of the regular season recovering from the injury and getting into playing shape.
When he did comeback, Vea came on strong in the second half of the season and began to show signs of promise, as to why the Bucs had picked him in the top 15 of the draft. He had a career high nine tackles in a December game in Baltimore and was all over the line of scrimmage and the backfield causing disruptions.
Then, in Dallas the following week, he was once again making plays early in the game. Although, he had a first-half sack Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott nullified by a face mask penalty, he got another one that counted by blindsiding Prescott on the final play of the first half.
Vea finished with three tackles, the sack and one tackle for loss in that game. And, in the second half of the season, he ended up with 28 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss in eight games.
Vea is being heavily counted on to help the interior of the Bucs defensive line in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3 – 4 defense. He along with new free agent pro bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh are going to be the guys relied upon to get pressure up the middle for the defense.
Report- Bucs have extended GM Jason Licht’s contract
Hoping to practice some form of continuity, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly extended the contract of GM Jason Licht.
This after a report Saturday morning from Bucs beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times, Rick Stroud, that Licht has been given a five-year contract extension to remain with the team:
Bucs signed general manager Jason Licht to a new five year deal https://t.co/g8fswc0gyJ
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) August 17, 2019
A big part of the reason why the Glazer family, which owns the team, wanted to keep Licht is: his ability to lure former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to come out of retirement and join them this past January.
Further, Stroud reports that Arians made it a condition of his coming out of retirement that Licht remain with the team long-term and that the Bucs keep embattled starting QB Jameis Winston.
Licht had been given a one-year extension for 2019 before this offseason, and the Buccaneers had already committed to keep quarterback Jameis Winston for the fifth year option of his rookie contract. Then, once former coach Dirk Koetter was fired in January, Licht’s previous relationship with Arians helped the Bucs get their new coach.
Licht was the assistant general manager with the Cardinals, when Arians was hired in 2013 and led them eventually to the NFC Championship Game in 2014.
Licht became the Buccaneers general manager at that the start of that same season, but has had a rocky tenure of results. This includes only one winning season out of five and several free agent moves and draft picks that have backfired.
None bigger than when Licht traded up in the 2016 draft for FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round, only to have Aguayo falter and be released the following year in training camp.
Licht has also had free agent busts like former Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker and last year, Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry. Both of whom we’re paid heavily but did nothing in their one season before being released.
Licht and his staff do deserve some credit for finding unheralded players like tight end Cameron Brate, running back Peyton Barber and former wide receiver Adam Humphries. All of whom were undrafted and have been quality contributors over the last couple of seasons.
The team had no official comment on Stroud’s report of the extension.