After one week of training camp, the Buccaneers are showing signs of needed improvement on defense and in the running game.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles promised a more physical, blitzing type of defense and that is what we have seen from this new Buccaneer defense so far.
After years after watching defenses struggle under Mike Smith, this defense does not even resemble those defenses of the past few years.
The defensive backs have played an aggressive in your face style of defense which plays to the strengths of these young defensive backs.
Every day it seems that there is someone different making a big play. From cornerback Jamel Dean to safety Mike Edwards to cornerback Sean Murphy Bunting, the Bucs defense has been ahead of the offense so far in training camp.
The re-vamped defensive line led by Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea have at times man handled the offensive line. During some running drills, the offensive line has had troubled shedding the big bodies of Suh and Vea.
Outside of the overall play of the defense, there are two players that have stood out. Running back Ronald Jones, and defensive D’cota Dixon.
Jones who put on 10-15 pounds during the offseason has been the most impressive running back in camp. Jones has consistently broken some runs to the outside for long gains and has shown a quickness and explosiveness not seen last year.
Jones has also looked good catching the ball out of the backfield something the Bucs running backs did not do very well last year after losing Charles Sims.
Jones has even caught the eye of head coach Bruce Arians and said that Jones will be given the opportunity to challenge Peyton Barber for the starting running back job. “He’s an explosive player, He’s going to be a heck of a player for us. He’s going to make big plays for us. He’s probably best between the tackles. He’s got that breakaway speed and the size.”
The Bucs desperately need Jones to have a bounce back sophomore season as they have been near the bottom of the rankings running the ball the last two seasons in the league.
The free agent defensive back from Wisconsin D’cota Dixon is a player to watch at safety. With Justin Evans still recovering from a foot injury, and Ryan Smith suspended the first four games of the season due to PED use, there is an opportunity for Dixon to make this team.
Mike Edwards looks to be the starter right now at free safety with Kentrell Brice, Isaiah Johnson, and Jordan Whitehead in the mix as well.
Dixon has also impressed coach Arians, “He’s Smart and tough Tough” Arians said. “He’s got a good chance to make this football team.”
Dixon had a pick six of Jameis Winston during Thursday’s practice.
The Buccaneers will play their first preseason game in Pittsburgh next Friday night against the Steelers.