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Bucs roster questions will soon have answers as minicamp nears

For the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there are plenty of things to be looking for when camp gets underway.
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Kyle Trask during a Buccaneers NFL football rookie minicamp Friday, May 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. — As mandatory minicamp is set to kickoff, Buccaneers fans are chomping at the bit to see their team back in action following the Super Bowl run of 2020.

For the Bucs, there are plenty of things to be looking for when camp gets underway. For starters, a player that garners a lot of attention − both good and bad − is quarterback Kyle Trask.

Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich talked about Trask to the media, discussing how they assume rookie quarterbacks come into the league knowing “nothing about nothing,” but that Trask has shown some great things early on in terms of his play as well as his command of the huddle. What will be interesting once mandatory minicamp really gets going is the start of a little quarterback competition. No, there is no competition for the starting job. There is, however, a competition to see who ends up where behind Tom Brady on the depth chart.

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Even after drafting Trask, the Buccaneers re-signed Blaine Gabbert, giving them four quarterbacks. Long-time backup Ryan Griffin even went so far as to say that he just wants to help the team in any way possible and if that means being on the practice squad, so be it. Trask’s ability to grasp the playbook and how he jells with more of the upper-echelon players on this roster could go a long way in determining where he stands come training camp.

Sticking with the offense, let’s take a look at the running back room.

With Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, and Giovani Bernard firmly planted in their spots, there are only so many jobs available. Head coach Bruce Arians even called out Ke’Shawn Vaughn for not being in attendance at OTAs while pointing out that there “are players competing for roster spots who don’t know they’re competing.” That doesn’t bode well for the second year running back, who promptly returned to the Advent Health Training Facility for workouts.

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Seeing how these guys interact with one another, whose number gets called in what situations and how well they pop will be crucial heading into training camp. No one is going to lose their job at mandatory minicamp, but their starting position come training camp will certainly be affected.

Defensively, it’s all about the rookies. First-round pick Joe Tryon is expected to participate after having a knee procedure done and it will be everyone’s first opportunity to catch a glimpse of how Todd Bowles might be utilizing him in the defense. Will he be rotating with Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul? Are they putting him on the line with his hand in the dirt? Are there any sub-packages where Tryon, Barrett, and JPP are all out there together in order to create pure chaos and panic for an opposing quarterback?

Then, there are linebackers K.J. Britt and Grant Stuard. Though special teams will be vital to their ability to make the final roster, how are they being used defensively now that they aren’t the only inside linebackers on the practice field? Britt had play calling duties on the field during OTAs, but will he immediately slot in on the second team defense in that role? Or is there a bigger hill for him to climb to get to that point?

A lot of these questions won’t be answered completely during minicamp, but we will start to see the bigger picture once things kick off. It’s a loaded roster with unbelievable amounts of talent from the top to the bottom, so anyone who does make the team will certainly have earned it − and that quest begins next week.
For more on this story and for more on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, check out the Locked On Bucs Podcast.

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