Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs rookie Banks strong against Ravens

TAMPA — Preseason or not, Thursday night was the NFL debut for Bucs second-round pick Johnthan Banks.

Nothing he did as a top-flight cornerback in the Southeastern Conference would matter any longer. His status as the 2012 Thorpe Award winner instills no fear in opponents at this level.

It didn't matter. Banks looked like he belonged against the Super Bowl champion Ravens. In fact, he looked like a starter, taking on standout receiver Torrey Smith during the game's first two series, and making tackles in the open field in run support.

It was the sort of performance the Bucs could only hope for from their top 2013 pick, and it should solidify Banks' effort to land a starting job across from All-Pro Darrelle Revis, who didn't play, as expected.

Banks, the 43rd overall draft choice from Mississippi State, finished with five tackles. What the stat sheet didn't reflect was his ability to stay step for step in coverage. Banks allowed two catches for 16 yards by Smith, but both were quick throws by Joe Flacco, with Banks preventing additional yardage after the catch.

The Bucs have reshaped their secondary dramatically since last year's unit lodged the worst numbers in the NFL, threatening to break an all-time record for passing yards allowed.

There's Revis, brought in via a trade with the Jets. And there's All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson, who will patrol the deep middle of the field.

But Banks is a major part of that restructuring, too, and if he can build on his debut, the Bucs might have something.

One of the most notable aspects of Banks' game Thursday was his physicality. On his second play, he upended 260-pound fullback Vonta Leach in the open field. Later, Banks came downhill and exploded into running back Bernard Pierce, stopping him after a 1-yard gain.

Given Revis' reputation for being a sure-handed tackler, plus the ability of safeties Goldson and Mark Barron to get their hands on ball carriers, the Bucs can look forward to physical play from their secondary.

Banks is battling second-year man Leonard Johnson for a starting job, but Banks' status as a early round draft pick and his encouraging performance both Thursday night and in training camp have established him as the frontrunner.

Thursday might have been his debut, but Banks looked like he had been there before.

Bucs rookie Banks strong against Ravens 08/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 9, 2013 12:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The Florida Gators' case for QB Luke Del Rio


    GAINESVILLE — It took three years and two transfers for Florida's Luke Del Rio to become a starting quarterback.

    Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) warms up next to quarterback Austin Appleby (12) before the game against the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday September 17, 2016 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Final score was Florida 32 North Texas 0. (Monica Herndon, Times)
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Jays game

    The Heater

    RHP Tommy Hunter has been so good emerging as the top set-up man for closer Alex Colome with a dazzling run, but twice in five days he has given up a game-losing homer, Sunday to Cleveland's Austin Jackson and Thursday to Toronto's Justin Smoak.

  3. Rays morning after: There (really) are still reasons to be optimistic


    There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the Rays' chances to get out of their extended skid and make the playoffs, including veteran 3B Evan Longoria's acknowledgement after Thursday's game that the pressures of …

    Trevor Plouffe reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning against Toronto.
  4. Is Bucs kicker Nick Folk a significant upgrade over Roberto Aguayo?


    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter made it clear.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk is entering his 11th NFL season. He spent three seasons with the Cowboys and seven with the Jets. [LOREN ELLIOTT  |  Times]
  5. Tim Tebow Week: 12 stories from his Tampa Bay tour


    Alas, Tim Tebow Week — eight baseball games in eight nights that reunited Tebow with his Tampa Bay friends and admirers — is over. The fun ended Thursday night.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow meets fans and signs autographs before the beginning of the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 in Clearwater. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times