Winners of Bucs position battles take shape
Though the depth chart the Bucs released this week is subject to change, coach Greg Schiano indicated Wednesday it's a pretty good indication of what they're thinking for the season opener against the Jets.
That means DE Daniel Te'o Nesheim is likely to start over Da' Quan Bowers, CB Leonard Johnson ahead of rookie Johnthan Banks, SLB Dekoda Watson instead of Jonathan Casillas and rookie DT Akeem Spence at tilted nose. It's not like one or the other, as Schiano said all of the above will play key roles in Week 1.
And the positions aren't set in stone for the season. Let the competition continue.
"My ultimate goal is not to be the second team end, it's to be the starting end," Bowers said. "So every way that's possible (Schiano) is pushing me, it's my job to take it in stride and get better. So if that's his way of pushing me, I acknowledge that and I'm trying to do something about it."
Schiano has challenged Bowers, both publicly and privately, to become the every-down defensive end since the Bucs let veteran DE Michael Bennett depart in the offseason. Bowers said it hasn't been easy, and still isn't, but he's made strides in his first full training camp, improving his conditioning and ability. Schiano believes Bowers can be an impact player on every down, including Sunday.
"He's invested a lot in me, he's believed in me, he's given me shots, and I appreciate that," Bowers said. "I owe it to this organization to be that guy that can play at any down and play anywhere. And not just play, but be dominant."
Bowers believes the defensive line can be "dominant" this season. That includes Te'o-Nesheim, who thinks he still has a lot to prove.
"I haven't done enough to think of myself as a guy that, you know, deserves a spot and not work for it," Te'o-Nesheim said.
Both Johnson and Banks are expected to get plenty of action at the corner opposite Darrelle Revis as the Jets likely to pick on them as opposed to the All-Pro.
"Whoever is on the other side of Revis, I'm sure we'll have to be at (our) best knowing chances are the ball will be coming," Johnson said. "This is a huge opportunity, and we just have to capitalize on those plays when they come."