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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs safety Chris Conte gets two INTs, but wanted third



Bucs safety Chris Conte had two interceptions off Jameis Winston in Saturday's practice -- he jumped in front of a deep ball intended for Mike Evans, then toe-tapped in the back of the end zone to catch a deflected pass -- but he'll motivate himself thinking about another that got away.

"With me, I don't want to say I focus on the negative, but I had things I didn't do well today and have to improve," Conte said. "I'm going to focus on those things and try to improve. I like to be hard on myself. There's a lot I need to work on, but it was nice to have a few plays where I got my hands on the ball."

Defensive coordinator Mike Smith said the Bucs' new defense asks more of the safeties, who can line up in five or six different looks, and Koetter said while they don't have depth at the position, Conte and fellow starter Bradley McDougald have been "real solid," as well as top backup Keith Tandy. Conte likes the versatility the position now requires, in contrast to last season under Lovie Smith's defense.

"I don't want to compare it to last year, but it's a lot more complex, and there's a lot more going on than we had last year," he said. "It's just a different mentality, a different scheme. As a safety, you want to be able to do a lot of different things. It's fun."

The Bucs also have a rookie in the mix in fourth-rounder Ryan Smith, who missed time during OTAs with a leg injury but is working to get caught up and rotating in as part of the second-string secondary.

"Ryan's playing a little bit of catch-up," Koetter said. "When those guys miss OTAs with injuries, even though they're in on the meetings, it takes some time to catch up, mentally. ... Now Ryan, you definitely can see his athleticism flash every day. The guy's got really good speed and it shows up on special teams."

[Last modified: Saturday, August 6, 2016 12:30pm]


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