The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrapped up their second day of training camp Friday at One Buccaneer Place, battling through stifling heat and humidity to get in a roughly three-hour practice session in front of fans and media alike.
Below are some of my news, notes, observations and takeaways.
The secondary was in prime form
Much has been made about the transformation that has occurred to the defensive backfield through the draft, free agency and trades, and today we saw firsthand why many are expecting big things from the group.
- During seven-on-seven drills, rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks, selected in the second round of April's draft, made an acrobatic interception of a Josh Freeman pass attempt using his height and athleticism, as well as strong ball skills. Of course, it drew thunderous applause from the fans in attendance.
- Also during seven-on-sevens, veteran CB Michael Adams, who comes to Tampa Bay after having spent six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, made an equally impressive interception of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. On the throw, Glennon appeared to have hesitated, which certainly won't cut it at this level.
- Second-year CB Leonard Johnson, who made six starts last season for the Bucs as an undrafted rookie, continues to see significant playing time with the first-team defense, particularly opposite fellow CB Darrelle Revis.
- Speaking of Revis, the coaching staff appeared to have allowed him to compete a little bit more today than they did on Day 1. Although, to paraphrase head coach Greg Schiano from his press conference, they really just wanted Revis to be out there getting a feel for the game again.
Ronde Barber stopped by camp to prepare for his next assignment
Having recently retired from the Bucs after 16 seasons, Barber finds himself entering the next chapter of his storied career: broadcaster.
When asked about what steps he's taken to prepare for his foray into broadcasting, Barber replied, "I’m fortunate to have a lot of guys that have been in this business that I’ve played with or against. They have encouraged me to prepare like I would playing in games."
It's worth mentioning Ronde is following in nearly the same footsteps as his twin brother Tiki, who joined NBC Sports shortly after retiring to work as an analyst.
To that point, I asked Ronde if his brother had extolled any advice—good, bad or indifferent—about what to expect now that he was putting on the journalist cap, to which Ronde replied:
Tiki and I are doing different things. He never stepped in the booth, you know, he was an analyst for a couple of years. We've talked about it, certainly, but there's nothing you can say to prepare you for what you're getting into. We're twins, but we're different people and I'll approach it probably different than he did.
Yes, it's early, but the defensive line looks formidable
Though most of the attention on defense has been focused on the secondary, and for obvious reasons, the group that could single-handily impact all facets of how the unit performs as a whole is the defensive line.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who is noticeably slimmed down entering his fourth season, leads a group that includes defensive ends Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers, Steven Means and William Gholston, as well as fellow tackles Akeem Spence, Derek Landri and Gary Gibson, among others.
At various times throughout practice, McCoy could be overheard (and seen) offering advice and encouragement to his linemates, which falls in line with the leadership expectation that has fallen on him since the retirement of Barber earlier this spring.
Granted, it was sans pads, but the line looks every bit capable of carrying the entire defense. Spence, in particular, has all the makings of a solid lineman: he's compact, and has a powerful build and a very good first step.
This is definitely a group worth keeping an eye on once the pads are put on, which coincidentally enough, is tomorrow night at Raymond James Stadium.
Da'Quan Bowers is confident he can be a disruptive force this season
The secondary caught most of the flack for the dreadful performance of the Bucs' pass defense last season; this, despite the fact the Bucs registered just 27 sacks in the process.
Well, count third-year defensive end Da'Quan Bowers among those who don't believe the line is under any additional pressure to have their sack totals increase in 2013.
"There's no pressure (to perform), that's our job. Our job is to put pressure on the quarterback and to make him make bad decisions," Bowers said.
For Bowers and the line to succeed, it will certainly take a concerted effort by all parties—fellow lineman, linebackers and the secondary—which is something he mentioned as well, saying, "Teamwork is going to be the thing that gets us through. Last year...we had a lot of individuals, but this year, we work as a team and everybody eats."
Let's hope they're as hungry for improvement as the rest of us are.
All quotes were obtained first hand. Email J.J. at BRJJRodriguez@gmail.com