TAMPA — Fate didn’t dawdle Wednesday morning at AdventHealth Training Center. It got right to work reuniting the “Cheetah” and his onetime press-coverage prey.
On the first rep of the first competitive segment of the Miami-Tampa Bay joint practice, Bucs primary cover corner Carlton Davis found himself facing former Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill — the Dolphins’ most glistening trade acquisition — in a one-on-one coverage drill. Serving as a westerly backdrop was Raymond James Stadium, site of their pair’s previous two meetings.
Davis kept pace as Hill went vertical, like he did ad nauseam in the unsightly first half of the Chiefs-Bucs 2020 regular-season meeting. This time, the fifth-year defender was in position as Tua Tagovailoa’s spiral began its downward descent.
Davis broke up the pass.
“I guess that was a good tone-setter, just starting it off fresh,” he said.
And so ensued one of the most intriguing duels of the day, one rife with history and humiliation, redemption and respect.
“He’s a different kind of receiver all around,” Davis said of the three-time All-Pro. “He brings something to the game that no other receiver does, so to be able to go up against him in practice, especially early on in camp, just to help you fine-tune your skills, your technique, it was really good today.”
On a morning littered with smack talk and shoves, no such hostility surfaced in this perimeter matchup. To the contrary, Davis called it “cordial.”
Yet for him, the encounter was as personal as it was polite.
In the regular-season encounter two autumns ago, Davis inexplicably was put in a single-coverage situation on the sleek six-time Pro Bowler. Hill caught all nine of the passes thrown his way for 211 yards (including touchdowns of 75 and 44 yards) when defended by Davis in the Chiefs’ 27-24 win.
In the sequel at Super Bowl 55, Hill had seven catches for 73 yards in Tampa Bay’s 31-9 romp, though he might have been held more in check by the Bucs’ ruthless pressure of Patrick Mahomes — scrambling for dear life most of the evening — than any secondary schemes.
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“That’s something that’s going to stick with you, just having an off-game, and then coming back and then playing a great game in the Super Bowl,” Davis said.
“That’s something that’s going to always be a part of my memory, just because it was a pivotal moment in the season both times for us. And going up against him today, it was a good flashback, and it was fun though. It was fun to get out there and just face him.”
Wednesday’s encounter seemed to end in a stalemate. Following the first rep, Hill sprinted, planted, then came back to catch an intermediate pass. He also had a reception against Davis in a full 11-on-11 period, but never broke a big play as the Dolphins kept things schematically close to the vest.
In fact, neither team scored a touchdown in 11-on-11 action, though Davis later jumped a dig route and picked off a Teddy Bridgewater pass intended for Preston Williams in seven-on-seven action.
“I thought Carlton looked very good,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said.
“Carlton’s sharp, he’s in shape, and the guy (Hill) beat him two years ago. Obviously he was younger, it’s two years later. Tyreek’s gotten better, Carlton’s gotten better, and I think they’re making each other better. So it was good competition on both sides.”
Minus the mouthy sideshow
“Got to see them again (Thursday),” Davis said. “So anything you say today, got to live up to it tomorrow.”
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.
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