TAMPA, Fla — Football season is finally here, and the Bucs are ready to "Go for two," as Bruce Arians says, after winning Super Bowl LV.
Tampa Bay can officially turn the page on a championship season when training camp begins Sunday. The Bucs celebrated their Super Bowl win at the White House on Tuesday and will receive their rings Thursday.
When camp begins at One Buc Place, last season's 22 starters, most of the depth players, all three coordinators, most of the coaching staff and the head coach will return to the field.
Here are the storylines to watch:
By now you've heard all the reasons why Tom Brady's seventh Super Bowl win was so impressive: It was his first season with a new team. The offseason had been canceled. He had to learn a new offense and teammates during a pandemic. He's 43 years old.
But recently, his legend grew even more when news broke that he played the entire 2020 season on a torn MCL in his knee.
Now, he has two healthy limbs, and showed no signs of weakness in June:
"I had to spend a lot of time tending to that injury," Brady said on June 9. "I'll be able to do some different things this year that I wasn't able to do last year."
Tryon takes reps
Bucs first-round draft pick Joe Tryon participated in his first football practice since undergoing a knee scope during June's minicamp. Arians noted the OLB looked "slippery" in shorts, but he wanted to see more in pads.
Tryon will have to wait his turn for playing time, but he has the best teachers in front of him in Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 262 pounds, he's a physical specimen who should find his way into the rotation easily. During minicamp, he took reps with the first team, subbing in with Anthony Nelson for JPP and Barrett.
Blaine Gabbert will likely get the nod in case of a Brady injury. He's most familiar with the offense and worked with the first-teamers during June minicamp while third-string QB Ryan Griffin and second-round draft pick Kyle Trask worked with the rookies and second-teamers on another field.
It would be unusual for the Bucs to keep four quarterbacks, which makes this a competition between Griffin and Trask for the fourth spot. The Bucs won't ditch their second-round pick, who, Arians said, they thought about taking in the first round of the NFL draft. If Griffin stays, he would be the longest-tenured quarterback in Bucs history, staying with the team for seven seasons.
Starting running back
Giovanni Bernard joined the Bucs this off-season after spending nine seasons in Cincinnati. He's a passing-downs weapon, which means Ronald Jones or Leonard Fournette are likely to touch the ball first. Jones and Fournette had seven dropped passes each.
Jones was just 22 yards shy of posting a 1,000-yard season. He averages 5.1 yards per carry but needs to prove he's a three-down back by improving his pass blocking and receiving.
Fournette didn't match RoJo's regular-season production but burst onto the scene in the postseason. He collected 300 rushing yards, 164 receiving yards, four touchdowns -- including one in the Super Bowl -- and the nickname "Playoff Lenny."
It was ironic -- almost lamentable -- to watch Jaydon Mickens coaching up Jaelon Darden on punt return technique during OTAs. Mickens didn't produce much in the position last year, producing 6.2 yards per return. He also spent time on the COVID-19/reserve list and was waived in December before returning.
Darden is the Bucs' small-but-speedy fourth-round draft pick out of North Texas, where he broke several school records.
Camp begins July 25 and runs through August 18. All 16 practices are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. They are not open to the general public.
The only fans allowed in are season pass holders, luxury suite owners, Stadium Club members, premium seat holders and sponsors, prioritized by tenure on a first-come basis. The number each day is capped due to ongoing health and safety protocols. The NFL is not allowed any guest to be within 20 feet of a Tier 1 member, which includes players, so there will be no fan-player interaction.
For those unable to attend, the 10 Tampa Bay sports team will have coverage every day in our newscasts and on our social media accounts.
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