TAMPA – There’s another position battle going on in the Buccaneers camp that has yet to draw a lot of attention, and that’s interesting because it’s taking place at the most important position on the field.
The fight to step in for starting quarterback Jameis Winston should Winston go down or be lost for some reason is heating up, but the Bucs are taking measures to make sure it’s a fair fight.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter noted earlier this week that he and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian have decided to alternate the second-team reps between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Griffin.
“What we’ve been doing for these first four (practices) is, instead of splitting reps like we did in OTAs, we’re going by days – who’s got the twos and who’s got the threes,’’ Koetter said.
“And the threes (get) the least amount of reps (because) we’ve increased the ones’ reps. After today, though, (we might) go equal twos and threes because … we (want) the guy working with the threes to get a few more.’’
It’s interesting that the Bucs have decided to increase the number of reps Winston is getting. It’s likely an attempt to ensure Winston develops a good chemistry with all of his new targets.
The Bucs added a new deep threat in DeSean Jackson, a new potential starting tight end in O.J. Howard and an impressive prospect in wideout Chris Godwin, who has been working a lot with the ones in this camp.
Making sure Winston gets to know the habits of all those players while maintaining the connection he already has with Mike Evans, Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate is clearly presenting a challenge.
The challenge wouldn’t be as great if teams were still allowed to practice twice a day and weren’t required to give the players a full day off from practice every few days, but that’s the new NFL.
What still has to be determined of course is how many reps Winston will get once the preseason games begin and how the second- and third-team work will be divvied up between Fitzpatrick and Griffin in those games.
What’s likely is that the Bucs will give Winston the same number of preseason reps he’s had in the past, in part because they’ll need to get a better look at Fitzpatrick and Griffin in order to properly evaluate them.
That may be another reason why the Bucs have increased the reps Winston and the first-teamers are getting in training camp drills, where they have a better chance of controlling the workload and the intensity.
As for the battle between Fitzpatrick and Griffin, no one seems to have jumped ahead of the other just yet, and if that continues it will probably only increase the likelihood of the Bucs keeping three quarterbacks.