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Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

The Bucs used second round picks on cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis. Both are already taking the football away in practice and are quick studies
Cornerback Carlton Davis III (33) blocks wide receiver Justin Watson (17) during a drill at Buccaneers rookie minicamp on May 11, 2018 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice facility in Tampa, Fla. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
Cornerback Carlton Davis III (33) blocks wide receiver Justin Watson (17) during a drill at Buccaneers rookie minicamp on May 11, 2018 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice facility in Tampa, Fla. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published May 25, 2018

TAMPA — If the first few days of OTAs are any indication, the Bucs secondary could be much improved.

Completions may be down, interceptions should be up.

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"A lot of interceptions,'' coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday' after an organized team activities practice. "I think they might have broken the One Buc (Place) interception record today. Too many, but good for the defense. Good job for those guys.''

Credit the addition of second-round cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis.

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"They look like they belong,'' said receiver Mike Evans.

At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, Davis gives the Bucs a different body type in the secondary. His length will be an asset covering bigger NFC South receiver Julio Jones of Atlanta, Michael Thomas of New Orleans and Devin Funchess of Carolina.

Said Koetter: "Carlton is off to a very fast start."

Davis is in a battle with Vernon Hargreaves to start at right cornerback. Both will play, with Hargreaves moving inside in the slot when the Bucs go to five defensive backs.

One player who is impressed with the rookie talent in the secondary is second-year safety Justin Evans.

"As far as knowing their information when we're in the meeting rooms – they get called on and have to go up to the board and draw defenses and stuff, it was much better than I was at this time when I was here last year, so that's really impressive,'' Evans said. "Then of course on the field, they're here for a reason so they obviously can make plays and they've been making plays. They've been doing good, all of them."

The pass rush and pass coverage go hand in hand, but if you assume the Bucs won't be the worst team in the league with 22 sacks again, they should they should top the 13 interceptions, which tied for 15th in the NFL in 2017.

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com. Follow @NFLStroud