TAMPA BAY — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp opened on Wednesday with loads of storylines to observe throughout camp and all through the preseason, together with the lack of Rob Gronkowski, return of Chris Godwin, signing of Julio Jones, new faces on the offensive line, and lots extra.
However on Day 1, the story was concerning the offense. Extra particularly, the huge receivers, who had been with out Godwin and Jones. Whereas Mike Evans regarded sharp within the restricted period of time he was concerned in group drills, it was a blended day of outcomes for the others.
And that’s why the return of Godwin, together with the anticipation that Jones can regain his type, needs to be on the highest of everybody’s thoughts, together with Tom Brady.
Can Chris Godwin and Julio Jones stabilize the Buccaneers’ huge receiver group?
General, Brady, Blaine Gabbert, and Kyle Trask regarded sharp operating their respective models, however their receivers struggled to persistently catch the balls that had been thrown their means.
It’s no secret that if Brady doesn’t have his full arsenal of weapons out there to him to start the season, we might even see Tampa Bay’s offense battle out of the gate when airing it out. In fact, it’s Brady, however as we noticed in his closing years with the New England Patriots, he can solely achieve this a lot with no robust supporting forged round him.
And that’s one of many explanation why the Buccaneers went out and signed Jones on the eve of coaching camp — to make sure that the huge receiver group doesn’t miss a beat if and when a large receiver is sidelined at any level in the course of the season.
Head coach Todd Bowles famous that Tampa limped to the end line on the finish of the 2021 season after a rash of accidents hit the huge receiver room, they usually didn’t need that to occur once more this yr. Bowles mentioned they’re constructing depth now somewhat than having to select up no matter is likely to be left on the waiver wire. Nonetheless, he expects Jones could make a distinction on the sector when the common season kicks off.
“[Jones] remains to be a great soccer participant. We now have to interchange Gronk’s catches,” Bowles mentioned. “So, now we have now an additional weapon, particularly within the purple zone and out on the sector. We’re going to place him to make use of and provides us an opportunity to be extra artistic in among the issues that we do.”
Bowles did notice, although, that Jones has struggled with well being up to now, and though he’s wholesome now, it’s one thing they are going to monitor. So, there is no such thing as a certainty there, which suggests after Evans and Godwin (as soon as he’s wholesome and able to return), it’s anybody’s guess as to who steps as much as put the remainder of the puzzle collectively.
It is going to be a spirited competitors between Jones, Russell Gage, Cyril Grayson, Scotty Miller, and others. However preserve an in depth eye on Grayson — he drew some eyeballs along with his crisp route operating and elevated consideration within the passing recreation.
Kyle Rudolph and Cameron Brate tasked with filling the void left by Rob Gronkowski
On the tight finish place, it’s Kyle Rudolph and Cameron Brate, with Rudolph, who was personally recruited by Brady within the offseason, main the way in which.
“When Tom reached out earlier this yr, even earlier than Rob decided, he mentioned, ‘we don’t know what Rob goes to do at this level, however regardless, we want you down right here.’ That was my first time eager about coming all the way down to play with Tampa,” mentioned Rudolph. “Then Rob retired, and I assumed what higher alternative for me to come back down right here and never solely play with the best QB of all time but additionally be round this profitable tradition.”
Rudolph, entering his 12th NFL season, mentioned he’s cramming to study the playbook, the completely different nuances related to routes, Brady’s preferences, and extra. However he expects to be full-steam forward when he steps on the sector in Week 1.
“We play the Dallas Cowboys Week 1 in September, and my aim out there may be to be on the identical web page with Tom like we’ve been enjoying collectively for 10 years,” Rudolph mentioned.
Rudolph is aware of he can’t fill Gronkowski’s sneakers — he admitted so himself — however what he can do is present a dependable goal and security blanket for Brady. Throughout his 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings and one season with the New York Giants, Rudolph pulled in 479 receptions for 4,475 yards and 49 touchdowns.
And for Rudolph, he has one clear aim: win a championship.
“The one factor I haven’t completed is win a championship, and that’s all I need to do,” he mentioned. “It’s very evident the primary two days right here [in Tampa] — every thing we do individually and collectively as group … is about reaching that final aim.”
New items on the offensive line to observe throughout Buccaneers coaching camp
Whereas the Buccaneers’ pass-catching state of affairs will get sorted, there can even be loads of consideration on the offensive line. That’s as a result of there’ll be two new faces who’re tasked with defending Brady — LG Aaron Stinnie, who replaces now-retired Ali Marpet, and RG Shaq Mason, who replaces Alex Cappa after he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in free company.
It was an uneventful first day of observe for the offensive line — appropriately — however that is one thing to observe because the preseason and regular-season video games get underway.
The Buccaneers spent a second-round choose on Luke Goedeke, and Stinnie will work to carry him off for so long as potential. But when he struggles, don’t be shocked to see Tampa Bay have a brief leash, particularly if Goedeke impresses throughout camp.
The excellent news for Stinnie (or Goedeke) and Mason are that the middle of the road remains to be anchored by eight-year veteran Ryan Jensen, who performed in Tampa the previous 4 seasons. At left sort out is Donovan Smith and on the proper aspect is Tristan Wirfs.
The hope, in fact, is that two new faces don’t disrupt a complete lot, particularly with the three anchors returning to the identical system.
Different information and notes from Buccaneers coaching camp
- There was lots of chatter the previous few weeks about RB Leonard Fournette’s weight, however Bowles mentioned it’s laborious for lots of gamers to persistently keep in form year-round, and he’s pleased with the way in which Fournette regarded on the primary day of camp. Bowles famous that if they’d a recreation immediately, Fournette might play.
- Bowles on Godwin: “Chris has been working like loopy. He’s getting higher daily. We don’t have a timetable but, however we’ll be glad to have him when he comes out.”
- Jones arrived in Tampa on Monday night and took his bodily on Tuesday morning. The Buccaneers will look to get him on the sector and on top of things as rapidly as potential. So far as his uniform quantity and if he’ll attempt to seize No. 11 or 2, Jones mentioned, “I make the quantity. The quantity doesn’t make me.”
- Breshad Perriman caught a 30+ yard move from Brady in group drills, whereas Grayson pulled in an acrobatic sideline catch within the midst of a number of defenders.