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Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean dialed in as contract year looms

The fourth-year veteran is bent on increasing his interception total.
Fourth-year Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean (35), center, was among the veterans participating in Tuesday's organized team activity at AdventHealth Training Center.
Fourth-year Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean (35), center, was among the veterans participating in Tuesday's organized team activity at AdventHealth Training Center. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published May 31

TAMPA — When asked Tuesday if he tries to remain cognizant of 2022 representing his contract year, Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean didn’t exactly sit back in a soft zone of measured responses.

“I use it as motivation, because I’m treating it as if it could be my last year probably ever playing football again,” the fourth-year cornerback said. “You can’t take anything for granted, so I’ve just got to give it my all.”

Less than three months after fifth-year cornerback — and fellow former Auburn standout — Carlton Davis signed a three-year, $45 million deal, Dean acknowledged he’s aware of the clock ticking on his own Bucs tenure.

In his first three NFL regular seasons, Dean has totaled 111 solo tackles, 33 passes defended and five interceptions, noticeably shy of Davis’ totals in that same span (139 solos, 48 passes defended, six picks). Fellow fourth-year corner Sean Murphy-Bunting has 120 solos, 14 passes defended and four interceptions, not counting three picks in the 2020 postseason.

Entering his pivotal fourth year (the maximum duration of an NFL rookie contract), Dean said he’s especially focused on increasing his interception total, which has never exceeded two in a single season.

“One or two a season, that’s not nearly enough compared to players that are getting like, five through 11,” Dean said.

“I always want to be in the top category in that, so that’s why I’ve got to improve (that) aspect of the game, and that’s why I’ve been taking advantage of all the (organized team activity) reps I can get, just to try to perfect my craft.”

Jonsen no longer a Buc

Bucs coach Todd Bowles announced Tuesday the team has parted ways with receiver Travis Jonsen, arrested in Tampa early Monday morning on a charge of driving under the influence.

“As of right now, he’s no longer with the team,” Bowles said following the Bucs’ organized team activity Tuesday.

An undrafted free agent from Montana State who spent parts of the last two seasons on the practice squad, Jonsen, 25, was stopped at 1505 N Dale Mabry Highway exhibiting “several clues of impairment” and was arrested at 3:18 a.m., according to a Tampa Police Department news release.

He refused to take a breath test following his arrest, according to the release, and was released from jail Monday morning after posting a $500 bond.

No official transaction had been announced as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Sapp sighting

The predominantly young assemblage of Bucs defensive linemen got a guest lecturer of sorts — with Canton credentials, no less — at Tuesday’s organized team activity.

At Bowles’ request, Hall of Famer Warren Sapp worked with the group during individual drills on the southern end of AdventHealth Training Center. He didn’t address reporters afterward.

“Me and him have a good relationship, and (we) wanted to bring him in just to teach the d-line a few things,” Bowles said.

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“(Co-defensive coordinator) Coach (Kacy) Rodgers and Coach Lo (assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust) were all for it, so (we) thought it would be a good idea to learn from a guy that has done it recently, or more recent than the coaches have, and it would be good for the guys to see and hear a different perspective.”

Another hearty turnout

Defensive lineman Patrick O'Connor (79), right, was among several Bucs veterans participating in Tuesday's organized team activity at AdventHealth Training Center.
Defensive lineman Patrick O'Connor (79), right, was among several Bucs veterans participating in Tuesday's organized team activity at AdventHealth Training Center. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

The first organized team activities under Bowles have been surprisingly well-attended by veterans, most of whom were told not to come to the voluntary workouts last year by then-head coach Bruce Arians.

Though veteran attendance wasn’t quite as strong as previous Tuesdays, Dean, Murphy-Bunting and Davis all participated.

“We got a new head coach now,” Dean said. “It’s basically getting a feel for how it’s going to be going into the season.”

Tenth-year lineman William Gholston was another notable attendee on defense. Veteran running backs Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn took reps in the backfield with third-round pick Rachaad White.

Center Ryan Jensen headlined the participation of offensive linemen, while receiver Scotty Miller and tight end Cameron Brate were frequent targets for quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills.

Dean said many veterans also are motivated to work on their craft and make up for lost time, noting these organized team activities are the first since his rookie year in 2019.

“We missed out on all the extra reps that we could have used to get better,” he said.

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