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Bucs need to get a grip, Bruce Arians says

Too many players (with the exception of Mike Evans) dropped passes, plus more notes from training camp
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Justin Watson (17) makes this catch during training camp at the AdventHealth Training Center on July 28, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.  But there were some drops on Thursday night. (MONICA HERNDON   |   Times)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Justin Watson (17) makes this catch during training camp at the AdventHealth Training Center on July 28, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. But there were some drops on Thursday night. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published Aug. 2, 2019
Updated Aug. 2, 2019

TAMPA — Show of (bad) hands: who dropped at least one pass in Thursday night’s practice? Put yours down, Mike Evans.

The Bucs’ offensive execution in the passing game was lacking, in no small part because, after a day off, pass catchers had an off day.

It rained outside the indoor facility, but the big drops fell early as receivers, tight ends and running backs all took turns not securing the football. It was tough to watch and even tougher for the offense to execute. Quarterbacks Jameis Winston, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin didn’t have their best performances, but it’s hard to judge when the ball keeps hitting the ground one way or the other.

“We dropped way too many passes," coach Bruce Arians said. " I thought our receivers, they weren’t even out there, other than Mike Evans."

There were a lot of offenders. Justin Watson hasn’t consistently made those “grimy catches,” as Arians calls them. Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman, and even Chris Godwin dropped at least one pass Thursday.

Arians found it hard to hold the quarterbacks responsible since none of them were able to establish a rhythm.

“No, you can’t when everyone drops the ball,” Arians said.

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Badgers safety shines

D’Cota Dixon, an undrafted free agent safety from Wisconsin who was signed following a tryout camp, has stood out in the first week of training camp. Dixon jumped a pass from Jameis Winston to Mike Evans, making the interception and returning it for a pick-six.

With safety Justin Evans still on the active physically unable to perform list, the Bucs may have a spot for an extra safety. Rookie Mike Edwards, a third-round pick from Kentucky, is starting at free safety. Kentrell Brice, Isaiah Johnson and Jordan Whitehead all are in the mix as well. It will be interesting to see if the Bucs add a safety from the waiver wire or sign a veteran free agent, but right now, Dixon is earning a job. He also would be an asset on specials teams.

“Smart. Tough," Arians said of Dixon. “He’s got a good chance to make this football team.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety D'Cota Dixon (38), an undrafted free agent from Wisconsin, is turning heads and could earn a roster spot. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)

Psst. He’s making the team

The Bucs running back position isn’t very highly regarded throughout the NFL. Peyton Barber was 19th in the league in a rushing a year ago with a 3.7 yards-per-carry average. His career average is 3.8. Ronald Jones is trying to bounce back from a forgettable rookie year. Former Cardinals RB Andre Ellington didn’t play last season.

But no matter how the RB position shakes out for the Bucs, save a spot for Dare Ogunbawale. He made some good inside runs Thursday and is key on special teams both in kick coverage and as a kickoff returner.

“He’s doing fantastic. (He’s) got really good vision (and) good blitz pickup. He’s really impressing us,” Arians said.

Bucs running back Dare Ogunbowale (44) stretches out for pass, but can't get under it. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)

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Big problem to tackle

The Bucs like starting tackles Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson. But there’s not much behind him. Caleb Benenoch, Michael Liedtke and Cole Boozer are in backup spots.

“Right now, we’re still building,” Arians said. “We’re still looking. Guys are having good days and bad days. We need some leveling off —good all the time.”

KEEP READING: Cornerback Ryan Smith looks forward after PED suspension


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  2. Former Oklahoma and Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts could be someone the Bucs consider if they select a quarterback on day 2 of the NFL draft April 24 in Las Vegas. [ROD AYDELOTTE  |  AP]
  3. Tom Brady and the Patriots have appeared in eight straight AFC championship games and have won three of the past five Super Bowls. [JEFF ROBERSON  |  Associated Press]
  4. Bruce Arians said the Bucs' new uniforms will look more like this. The hope is they will play more like this. [DAMASKE, JIM  |  St. Petersburg Times]
  5. It sounds like Bucs coaches and the front office have had a change of heart on tight end O.J. Howard. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
  6. Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. [MICHAEL CONROY  |  AP]
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Detroit. [PAUL SANCYA  |  AP]
  8. In this file photo, Bucs coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Jameis Winston walk off the field after a season-opening home loss to San Francisco. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  9. Florida State running back Cam Akers (3) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter of last season's home opener against Boise State. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  10. He may look happy here, but Bradley Pinion seems pretty overjoyed (at least on social media) at the prospect of the team dumping this uni design. [Times]
  11. Kacey Reynolds announces that LSU linebacker Devin White has been selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Bucs announced Sunday that Reynolds had died at age 20 after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. [MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP]
  12. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett's bet on himself is about to pay off, in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. [PAUL SANCYA  |  AP]