TAMPA – The Buccaneers wrapped up training camp on Thursday feeling pretty good about how they came out of it health-wise.
The Bucs did lose defensive end Jacquies Smith (knee), cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah (knee, since-waived) and backup quarterback candidate Ryan Griffin (shoulder) for extended periods, but all the other players that are currently dealing with nagging injuries of some kind still have a good chance of being ready for opening day.
The only concern is that that group is a rather large one. It is also a rather notable one, dotted with several starters, including linebacker Kwon Alexander (left hamstring), right tackle Demar Dotson (groin) and wide receiver Mike Evans (undisclosed). Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy may be dealing with a little something as well.
Throw that on top of the fact running back Doug Martin will miss the first three games of the season while he serves out the final three games of his four-game suspension for a PED violation and the Bucs depth could still get a pretty good test right out of the box this year.
That kind of a test is one the have more often failed in years past, but this year could be different. Though he’d much rather avoid having to test it, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter believes he might have the quality depth necessary to finally survive a bad rash of personnel losses.
“Yeah, we’ve probably developed the best depth we’ve had in the three seasons I’ve been here,’’ Koetter said Thursday when asked what it was about camp that satisfied him the most. “It’s going to be tough at the end (to make the final cuts) because we’ve got decent depth at several positions.’’
Running back is one of those positions. So is wide receiver, where rookie Chris Godwin stepped into Evans’ place with the first team on Thursday and didn’t look out of place at all. The Bucs are also very happy with the depth they have at tight end and along the offensive line.
The defense is far deeper than it has been as well. The Bucs still don’t have a lot of proven depth at defensive end, linebacker or in the secondary, but they feel good about the way a lot of their relative unknowns have been playing.
Players such as Ryan Russell and DaVonte Lambert, for example, have worked their way into the regular rotation up front while Adarius Glanton, rookie Kendell Beckwith and Hard Knocks star Riley Bullough have all made positive impressions at linebacker.
In the secondary, meanwhile, Ryan Smith has made a quick and relatively successful transition back to cornerback, where even after losing Adjei-Barimah, the Bucs still have two solid slot-corner options in Javien Elliott and Robert McClain.
The Bucs hope, of course, is that they’ll never have to find out just how deep they really are, but their depth is sure to be tested sooner or later and it’s good to know that they may be in a position to finally pass such a test should it be handed to them.