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A few things to watch as Bucs begin organized team activities

The team will hold 10 sessions before next month’s mandatory minicamp.
New Bucs coach Todd Bowles presides over 2-1/2 weeks of organized team activities starting May 17 and running through June 3.
New Bucs coach Todd Bowles presides over 2-1/2 weeks of organized team activities starting May 17 and running through June 3. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 16|Updated May 16

TAMPA — On the heels of their rookie minicamp, the Bucs embark on Phase 3 of their offseason program with the commencement of organized team activities.

Starting Tuesday, the team will hold 10 such workouts through June 3, during which seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills are permitted but live contact isn’t.

A three-day mandatory minicamp follows soon thereafter (June 7-9). So what can fans expect to glean from the next 2½ weeks? In terms of depth-chart movement or final-roster determinations, probably very little. But some players — and positions — are worth watching. Here are a few things we’ll be observing during the three sessions (Tuesday, May 25 and June 1) open to reporters:

A heavy helping of Trask

Expect second-year Bucs quarterback Kyle Trask to get extensive reps during the team's organized team activities being held over the next 2-1/2 weeks.
Expect second-year Bucs quarterback Kyle Trask to get extensive reps during the team's organized team activities being held over the next 2-1/2 weeks. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]

Though we’ve heard conflicting reports recently on whether second-year project Kyle Trask has a bona fide shot at the backup-quarterback job in 2022, one thing appears certain: He’ll get liberal repetitions during these 10 sessions.

After some moderate preseason action last August (29 of 55, 312 yards, one TD, two INTs), Trask barely got behind center during regular game-week preparation, limiting his development to mostly film study, classroom work and on-field observation.

“These (organized team activities), we have some free reps that we can look at him, and that’ll happen,” quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen said last week. “That’s going to happen, that’s on our radar as must be done. That has to be done.”

A glimpse of Gage

New Bucs receiver Russell Gage had 66 catches for the Falcons last season, including 50 in the final eight games.
New Bucs receiver Russell Gage had 66 catches for the Falcons last season, including 50 in the final eight games. [ KEVIN SABITUS | Associated Press (2021) ]

The organized team activities represent our first look at new receiver Russell Gage assimilating himself into the Bucs offense. With no timetable yet on Chris Godwin’s return from knee surgery, the former Falcon — who had 50 receptions in Atlanta’s last eight games in 2021 — could have a prominent role at the season’s outset.

“I have a lot more appreciation for (organized team activities), especially for a guy like Russ, where it’s really slowed down and it’s more of a walk-through tempo,” receivers coach Kevin Garver said.

“It’s an opportunity to just break it down for him, slow it down, and he can kind of get the ins and outs of it from an alignment standpoint and an assignment and execution (standpoint) — the whole nine.”

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Safety sightings

The Bucs fortified their safety depth in the offseason with the addition of veterans Logan Ryan (pictured) and Keanu Neal.
The Bucs fortified their safety depth in the offseason with the addition of veterans Logan Ryan (pictured) and Keanu Neal. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Presuming both participate, new Bucs safeties Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal will make their on-field debuts of sorts. Neal, the former Gator and Falcons first-round draftee, projects as a strong safety who can fill the run-support void created by Jordan Whitehead’s departure to the Jets. Ryan, who won two Super Bowls in four seasons playing with Tom Brady in New England, can perform a similar role as a nickel back but also can play free safety (should Antoine Winfield Jr. get hurt), safeties coach Nick Rapone said.

Who lines up at left guard?

Veteran backup guard Aaron Stinnie, who came up big in place of injured starter Alex Cappa during the Bucs' postseason run two years ago, is a strong candidate to replace retired left guard Ali Marpet.
Veteran backup guard Aaron Stinnie, who came up big in place of injured starter Alex Cappa during the Bucs' postseason run two years ago, is a strong candidate to replace retired left guard Ali Marpet. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Presuming veteran Shaq Mason — acquired from the Patriots via trade in March — replaces Alex Cappa at right guard, the left-guard vacancy created by Ali Marpet’s retirement shapes up as arguably the most interesting training-camp battle.

Veteran backup Aaron Stinnie, reserve Nick Leverett, 2021 third-round draftee Robert Hainsey and perhaps even Seminole High alumnus Brandon Walton (a 2021 practice-squad regular) will log reps at the position. Of course, the team also drafted Central Michigan tackle Luke Goedeke — who projects as an NFL guard — in the second round.

“I think that’s probably to me, for us, going to be one of the really fun positions to watch through camp, the development and the competition,” offensive line coach Joe Gilbert said.

“That’s the one thing we’ve preached (and) Goodie (run-game coordinator Harold Goodwin) has preached in our room — it’s open. That spot there, every guy has a shot; Brandon Walton, all those guys. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

A Brady cameo?

Don't expect to see 44-year-old Bucs quarterback Tom Brady at any of the Bucs' organized team activities. Brady likely won't appear with the full team until the mandatory minicamp in early June.
Don't expect to see 44-year-old Bucs quarterback Tom Brady at any of the Bucs' organized team activities. Brady likely won't appear with the full team until the mandatory minicamp in early June. [ DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Times ]

A few days ago, we would’ve deemed Tom Brady an off-the-board long shot to show up for organized team activities. But that was before photos surfaced on the official team web site of him engaging in Phase 2 of the team’s offseason program.

Now, we’re just not sure, though offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said last week that “I don’t need to see him, I really don’t.”

“I think he’s done enough (organized team activities), really, to be honest with you,” Leftwich added. “And this is what we’ve done, really, since me and him got together. We’ve really had no summer as it pertains to me and him, but the conversations that we have, the understanding of each other that we have, we’ll be fine if he participates or not.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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