Bucs’ Carlton Davis intent on converting pass breakups into picks in 2022

Now that his salary has risen, the veteran says his interception total must do the same.
Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis agreed to a three-year, $45 million deal with the team in March.
Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis agreed to a three-year, $45 million deal with the team in March. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published June 8, 2022|Updated June 8, 2022

TAMPA — The highest-paid player in the Bucs’ cornerback room said Wednesday he’d like to attain a level of stardom that matches his salary and knows what that will require.

Intercepting passes instead of simply breaking them up.

“It’s about finishing,” fifth-year veteran Carlton Davis said following the team’s minicamp workout Wednesday.

“I’m an All-Pro corner 80 percent of the play, and the last 20 percent when the ball is coming, I’ve got to make that play. And that’s going to be the big turning point for me in my career, because I’m always around the ball.”

That instinctiveness and disruption prompted the Bucs to reward Davis with a three-year, $45 million contract — including $30 million in guaranteed money — in March. Widely deemed one of the NFL’s top cover corners, his 47 passes defended since 2019 are tied with the Giants’ James Bradberry for most in the league during that span.

But in four seasons, Davis has only six interceptions, four fewer than the Dolphins’ Xavien Howard totaled in 2021 alone.

“If Carlton would have caught half the balls he dropped last year, he would’ve been an All-Pro,” cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross said recently.

Davis, still seeking his first All-Pro — or even Pro Bowl — selection, concurred.

“My coverage is second to none,” he said. “But when I really dial in on my ball skills and just be a ball hawk, because I’m around it, that’s when I feel like I’ll get the notoriety and I’ll be able to make more noise than I’m doing now and really become (an All-Pro).”

Injury update

Pro Bowl safety Antoine Winfield Jr. attended practice for the second day in a row but didn’t participate. Coach Todd Bowles wouldn’t specify Winfield’s injury, only saying he has a “tweak” that’s not considered serious.

Receivers Russell Gage and Scotty Miller also attended but remained sidelined (again, their injuries weren’t specified), though Gage was seen catching passes from quarterbacks at the outset of practice. Others attending but not participating included safety Keanu Neal, inside linebacker Grant Stuard and outside linebacker Anthony Nelson.

“Again, guys are nicked up that we’d rather hold to training camp than come up right here in minicamp,” Bowles said. “Everybody that’s probably not practicing we’re probably not going to practice.”

Odds and ends

The Bucs convened for Day 2 of their three-day mandatory minicamp Wednesday at AdventHealth Training Center.
The Bucs convened for Day 2 of their three-day mandatory minicamp Wednesday at AdventHealth Training Center. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Among Wednesday’s practice highlights: cornerback Jamel Dean jumping an inside route and picking off a Tom Brady pass intended for Tyler Johnson. ... Bowles reiterated the place-kicking competition, between incumbent Ryan Succop and practice-squad regular Jose Borregales, remains wide open. “That will come down to the preseason as well,” he said. “It’s about how you kick under the lights, not how you kick in practice.” ... Davis on rookie cornerback Zyon McCollum: “I like him a lot. He’s a long corner. He’s quiet, but he’s vigilant, he understands the game. And even coming from Sam Houston (State), he still plays as if he was in the SEC or something.”

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“Who are they? Who do we play? ... I don’t care about the schedule. I just want to win as many games as possible.” — Receiver Mike Evans, when asked about the Bucs’ first four opponents (Cowboys, Saints, Packers and Chiefs)

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