Buccaneers Training Camp Capsule
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-11)
OPEN CAMP: July 26, One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, Florida
LAST YEAR: Failed to play up to heightened expectations coming off winning nine games previous season. Lost 10 of 13 following 2-1 start, missing playoffs for 10th straight year. QB Jameis Winston missed three games, plus most of fourth due to injury he tried to play through in three other starts. Lack of consistent running attack was problem. Gerald McCoy-led defense was disappointing, too, ranking last in league with 22 sacks.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Beau Allen, DE Vinny Curry, DT Vita Vea, RB Ronald Jones, C Ryan Jensen, DT Mitch Unrein.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: RB Doug Martin, DE Robert Ayers, Jr., G J.R. Sweezy, DT Chris Baker, DT Clinton McDonald, S T.J. Ward.
CAMP NEEDS: Reconstructing defensive line and improving anemic pass rush were top priorities this offseason. However, getting newcomers Pierre-Paul, Allen, Curry, Unrein and first-round draft pick Vea acclimated to defensive coordinator Mike Smith’s system isn’t only concern entering camp. Winston will miss first three games of season while serving suspension for violating NFL’s personal conduct policy. So, balancing starter’s workload in practice along with that of backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, will be focal point during preseason.
EXPECTATIONS: With Winston entering his fourth season, suspended three games for off-field behavior and also due to see his salary increase to $20.9 million in 2019, coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht — as well as 24-year-old Winston — are on hot seat to end franchise’s long playoff drought. Winston will miss season opener at New Orleans, as well as home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. An 0-3 start could be difficult to overcome, even if Pierre-Paul, Vea and Curry are answers to club’s pass-rushing woes.
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