Here’s a few things we think we’ve learned over the last few days, as the Buccaneers gathered their own rookies and about 50 tryout players to conduct a quick mini-camp at One Buc Place:
* The Buccaneers were very interested in Arizona State cornerback Deveron Carr after the draft ended the weekend before; in fact, had they owned a seventh-round pick they might have used it on the promising Sun Devil. Carr was one of the first players the Bucs called as soon as the seventh round of the draft ended, and they were able to bring him aboard as an undrafted free agent. Head Coach Greg Schiano says that Carr is a strong press corner with good speed and that the team will work with him to improve his zone reads.
* It’s the University at Buffalo, not the University of Buffalo. Sorry about that, Mr. Means. Also, Mr. Moseley.
* According to Coach Schiano, this year’s rookie mini-camp has a higher overall talent level than it did a year ago. For a long time, the Buccaneers would hold a full-team mini-camp the next weekend after the draft, but for the last four or five years they’ve reserved that weekend just for rookies and first-year players. Part of that has to do with the tougher restrictions on what teams can do during the offseason; essentially, there is only one full-team mini-camp allowed and it is usually saved for the very end of the offseason program. In order to have a fully operational camp – and also to get a look at some of the available rookie talent still on the wire – the Buccaneers bring in dozens of players on tryout contracts to fill out the weekend depth chart. Coach Schiano called it a “steep hill to climb” for any specific player in that tryout group, but it is a virtual certainty that at least a player or two will get signed to the active roster. That seems even more certain after Schiano remarked on Friday about the talent he had seen on the field during the first two practices. Last year, about a half-dozen tryout players got signed to the 90-man offseason roster, and one, TE Danny Noble, went all the way to the active roster.
* Second-round CB Johnthan Banks really likes horses, and actually owns six of them back in Mississippi. We found that out during our “New Hands on Deck” interview with the impressive rookie defender for Buccaneers.com. Also, you DO pronounce the “a” in the middle of his first name, even though it isn’t actually there.
* Speaking of Steven Means, he’s a defensive end and he’s thrilled about that. The Buccaneers drafted Means out of Buffalo in the fifth round, and there was some quick speculation that the team could play him at either linebacker or on the front line, given his supposed “tweener” size (6-4, 260). That might make some sense on paper, but in person Means looks every bit the defensive lineman. That also happens to be exactly where he wants to play, and that’s exactly where the Bucs intend to play him. In another “New Hands on Deck” interview that will air in the coming week, Means says he wants nothing more than to put his hand in the grass and rush the passer.
* One-on-ones are what it’s all about in a camp like this. The coaches spent much of their free time over the weekend poring over videotape of the practices to sort out which players should stick around for the rest of the offseason. Everything on that eight hours of tape is taken into consideration, but the sessions where the OL squared off against the DL, where the receivers tried to beat the DBs, et cetera, were the most helpful evidence.
* It’s going to be quite a competition between fourth-round DT Akeem Spence and sixth-round RB Mike James to see who smiles more often. Those are two upbeat (and intensely team-oriented) guys.
* This was a rookie mini-camp but there are a couple first-year guys worth keeping an eye on. A player who has already been in the league but has not accrued a season of free agency credit is referred to as a first-year player; a common example is a player who spends his first NFL season on a practice squad, such as Bucs QB Adam Weber. The Bucs had a handful of such players participating in the camp over the weekend, and some of them could figure significantly into the roster competition in training camp, including T Mike Remmers, DE Ernest Owusu and S Sean Baker.