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As Tom Brady turns 45, Bucs’ defense striving to reach 30

Cornerback Carlton Davis says 30 or more takeaways this season is a goal for his unit.
Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis had the first interception of the Bucs' 2022 training camp, picking off a batted Tom Brady pass on the opening day.
Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis had the first interception of the Bucs' 2022 training camp, picking off a batted Tom Brady pass on the opening day. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 1|Updated Aug. 1

TAMPA — While his personal goals might seem preposterous to some, Carlton Davis never has shied away from verbalizing them. On Monday, diplomacy took a back seat again.

“I want to be the premier corner in the league,” said the fifth-year cornerback, who signed a three-year, $45 million contract in March. “I want to be the most feared corner. I want to lead the league in pass breakups, interceptions, and I want every NFL team to know that I’m gonna hit you.”

Upon closer inspection, the aspiration is not implausible; Davis’ 47 passes defended since 2019 are tied with the Giants’ James Bradberry for most in the league during that span.

But he has only one interception over his last 22 games, and at some point pass breakups must become picks.

If Davis and the Bucs’ defense can make that conversion in 2022, his goal and the unit’s collective one — a 30-takeaway season — might be realized.

“We play defense,” said Davis, who made the first pick of training camp with an interception of a batted Tom Brady pass last Wednesday. “But we’ve got to be more offensive when it comes to seeing that ball, attacking the ball and wanting to have it.

“The mind’s got to be focused on getting the ball, so I think this year we’re more focused on creating those turnovers and trying to get 30-plus as a group.”

While ranking fifth in the NFL in total takeaways each of the last three seasons, the Bucs haven’t reached the 30-takeaway plateau in that time. Twice in the last half-dozen seasons (2021 and 2016), the unit totaled 29. The franchise record is 46, established in 1981.

“We are drilling individually like ... doing a lot of ball drills, doing a lot of turnover circuit drills,” linebacker Devin White said. “Because that’s what we pride ourselves on, is getting Tom (Brady) back the ball so him and that offense can work.”

Odds and ends

Bucs wide receiver Julio Jones (85) hauls in a pass during training camp Monday, the team's first workout in full pads.
Bucs wide receiver Julio Jones (85) hauls in a pass during training camp Monday, the team's first workout in full pads. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Receiver Breshad Perriman pulled up on a route during individual drills early in Monday’s practice with an apparent leg injury and didn’t reappear. ... Kicker Jose Borregales, battling veteran Ryan Succop for the job, went 7-for-7 on Monday, with 51- and 54-yard field goals. ... Left guard Aaron Stinnie returned to the first-team offense Monday after Seminole High alumnus Brandon Walton worked with the starters on Saturday. ... Davis on veteran receiver Julio Jones: “Still a freak. Huge, looks like a tight end, runs like Scotty (Miller), and stops on a dime like Jaelon Darden. So it’s like the whole package.” ... Some signs of the offense’s frustration on Monday: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert flinging the ball to the awning covering the spectator’s bleachers after his pocket collapsed on consecutive plays, and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich tossing what appeared to be a piece of gum to the ground when tight end JJ Howland dropped a Kyle Trask throw in the end zone.

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

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