TAMPA — Bucs rookie LB Kendell Beckwith is eight months and a week removed from November surgery to repair a torn ACL, so he had a proud sense of accomplishment in being healthy enough to be on the field for the opening practice of training camp Friday.
"It feels good to be back," said Beckwith, a third-round draft pick from LSU who will compete for the strongside linebacker job. "I'm just trying to do a good job of getting everything down and running the defense."
Beckwith will train at strongside and middle linebacker ("I'm everywhere," he said). He will challenge second-year pro Devante Bond for the strongside job and be ready to step in should anything happen to starting MLB Kwon Alexander. He said his focus had shifted from his recovery to learning the defense and being ready to play.
"I felt like I was going to be cleared (to play) before camp," Beckwith said. "I'm not looking back. My knee's the last thing on my mind. I feel good, so I'm just trying to get comfortable with the defense."
With the first pick
Veteran CB Robert McClain, a late signing after the draft in May, got a strong start to his training camp, intercepting a pass from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick for what would have been an easy return for a touchdown.
"Best thing you can do on defense is attack the ball and get the ball," McClain said. "Coach preaches all the time that turnovers win games. I still have a long way to go and a lot of things to get better with."
McClain was with the Falcons in 2014 when they were on HBO's Hard Knocks. His advice for Bucs teammates new to the filming process as the training-camp documentary's subjects this year: "Act yourself. Don't change your personality. You can't try to be somebody you're not. Go out there and have fun playing this game."
Careful with No. 3
The Bucs have no contact for the first three days of training camp, but DT Gerald McCoy (right) got a bit too close to QB Jameis Winston.
Winston said no apology was necessary. "You can't apologize for being great," he said. But McCoy still apologized, in the process poking fun at WR DeSean Jackson, who wears No. 11 in games but No. 1 in practices.
"I almost teared up going to the next rep," McCoy said of his contact with Winston, who wears No. 3. " 'Three' is the franchise. Forget 93, forget 13, 11 and 1 — I don't know what number he is going to be on any given day — 91, 98, 54, 58. 'Three' is the one. If 'three' ain't out there, eh. When I did that, I was ugh, eh, yeah."
To decode McCoy's references: He is 93, 13 is Mike Evans, 91 is Robert Ayers, 98 is Clinton McDonald, 54 is Lavonte David and 58 is Alexander.
On the mend
DE Jacquies Smith (right), who tore an ACL on his first play of 2016 and hasn't played since, suffered a setback in his recovery and required a "little procedure" that will sideline him "a few weeks," coach Dirk Koetter said. Smith is on the active/physically unable to perform list but can be activated at any point before the season.
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Contact Greg Auman at email@example.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.