First look at Baker Mayfield

– Bucs QB Baker Mayfield photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs took to the field on Tuesday for their first OTA, which was open to the media, at the AdventHealth Training Center. It was hot and humid under a partly cloudy sky, making it very stuffy for those in attendance. As is the case with OTAs, they are voluntary and there were several Bucs veterans who did not attend.

Bucks not present

W. R. Mike Evans
WR Russell Gage (was injured last week)
C Ryan Jensen
DT Vita Vea
OLB Shaquil Barrett (likely not approved to play due to Achilles)
ILB Devin White
ILB Lavonte David
CB Carlton Davis III
CB Jamel Dean

A few Bucs attended but didn’t practice – possibly due to injury: running backs Sean Tucker and Chase Edmonds, cornerback Duron Lowe, tight end Dominique Dafney and guard Aaron Stinnie.

Former Titans general manager Jon Robinson, a close friend of Bucs general manager Jason Light, was present to observe the practice. Robinson spent several years in Tampa Bay serving as Licht’s right-hand man as vice president of player personnel before getting the Titans job. Surprisingly, he was fired mid-season and is currently out of the NFL.

Bucs offensive notes


Bucs QB Baker Mayfield and OC Dave Canales – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

• New quarterback Baker Mayfield took the starting reps during Tuesday practice for Kyle Trask. But because this is an open league, there will undoubtedly be days when Trask gets the starter reps to make it fair. The quarterback group as a whole is significantly smaller under Dave Canales than under Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich.

• The previous play-callers favored long pocket passers. Tom Brady and Trask are 6-5, while Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin are both 6-foot-4. Mayfield is six feet tall and new third-string quarterback John Wolford is just under six feet tall. That leaves Trask as the giant in the room.

• Because this is the first day in a brand new system thrown at a receiving corps with only two veteran veterans in Chris Godwin and newcomer David Moore, who played Seattle for four years, it’s hard to make a serious evaluation of Mayfield and Trask as there were some laser throws on target from each, as well as a few misfires. But without knowing whether it was a bad reading or a throw from the quarterback or a poor route from a receiver, it’s hard to judge blame. As expected, the Bucs quarterbacks rolled out quite a bit with bootlegs and waddles, finding receivers and tight ends downfield.

Wide receivers

• The quarterback position wasn’t the only position to be noticeably smaller on Tuesday. Without 6-foot-5 receiver Mike Evans present, the receiver group was as small as it had been in Tampa Bay for some time. Godwin, Kade Warner and Trey Palmer are all six feet tall and are the next tallest receivers on the roster. Moore, who is 6 feet, 219 pounds is the heaviest receiver. But without Evans and 6-foot-3 Julio Jones, Tampa Bay’s receivers are shorter, but faster.

• Palmer’s speed is obvious as he had no trouble opening up. Picking up where he left off from the rookie mini-camp, Warner made links from the slot and perimeter.

Tight ends

• In the youngest room of the competition, second-year Cade Otton and Ko Kieft play the veterans. Cam Brate was released this off-season and fellow veteran Kyle Rudolph was not re-signed. While the team drafted Payne Durham on Day 3, it was undrafted rookie Tanner Taula, who made a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone on a bomb from Trask.

Running backs

• Without Chase Edmonds or Sean Tucker, Rachaad White, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Patrick Laird shared all carriers and reps. White looks bigger, as advertised. He is eight pounds heavier this offseason, weighing closer to 220 pounds. After practice, head coach Todd Bowles had no update on when Tucker, who suffers from a heart condition, would be cleared to practice.

offensive line

Bucs Rt Luke Goedeke

Bucs RT Luke Goedeke – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

• The Bucs offensive line is significantly larger this year. Tristan Wirfs is about 15 pounds heavier than Donovan Smith, and 330 pounds left guard Matt Feiler is about 30 pounds taller than Nick Leverett. And of course, the six-foot-tall, 305-pound Cody Mauch is significantly taller than the six-foot-two, 300-pound right guard Shaq Mason.

Robert Hainsey again filled in at center for Ryan Jensen, who was absent, and he also looks taller. The same can be said of Luke Goedeke, who weighed in at 312 pounds last year. It looks bigger and stronger and may weigh close to 320 pounds.

Tampa Bay’s offensive tackles also look huge. Freshman player Grant Hermanns is listed at 6-foot-7,300 pounds, while veteran Justin Skule is 6-foot-6,315 pounds. While Brandon Walton (6-5, 300) played some offensive tackles in 2022, he lined up as reserve left guard during Tuesday’s OTA.

Bucs defensive notes

Defense line

• Sophomore defensive tackle Logan Hall looks significantly bigger this year because he trained at an NFL facility during the offseason. Last year, the 6-foot-6 D-lineman raced in the low 280s and weighs in at 296 pounds. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said Hall is definitely stronger because of his diligent work in the weight room.

• New defensive tackle Greg Gaines is a big man. Listed at 6-foot-1, 312 pounds, Gaines is a bowling ball of mass and power. Fellow defensive tackle Deadrin Senat is listed at 6-foot-1, 305 pounds, but Gaines looks significantly taller — maybe 320 pounds.

Outside Linebackers

• While Shaquil Barrett was not present, the Bucs had an almost full complement of edge rushers present. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Anthony Nelson predictably ran with the starters with YaYa Diaby and former practice squad Charles Snowden next. Fellow designer Jose Ramirez was also in the mix with representatives afterwards.

Inside Linebackers

• No Devin White and no Lavonte David meant veterans KJ Britt and JJ Russell took their place in the lineup. Rookie SirVocea Dennis and Ulysses Gilbert, a practice squad from last year, were next. The Bucs’ young linebackers got a lot of reps without the team’s starters in practice, which will only accelerate their learning curve this offseason.


Bucs S Kaevon Merriweather

Bucs S Kaevon Merriweather – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

• Antoine Winfield Jr.’s new safety tandem. and Ryan Neal was in attendance and was able to spend valuable time working together on Tuesday. But it was undrafted free agent safety Kaevon Merriweather who keeps flashing in practice. Picking up where he left off in the rookie mini-camp, Merriweather was loud on the field as a communicator and covered receiver Taye Barber like a blanket on one route all the way down the field.

As soon as Kyle Trask let go of the ball, Merriweather made a perfect jump on the pass and got away with an interception. Neal made a nice play on a deep ball that Mayfield threw to Palmer in the end zone. He made a diving stop by hitting the ball out of Palmer after initially getting his hands on it. Just a big effort not to give up.

• Rookie safety Josh Hayes also made a big play, accidentally colliding with fellow rookie receiver Rakim Jarrett and knocking him to the ground. Hayes didn’t mean to hit Jarrett, but it’s easy to see that he doesn’t shy away from contact. Watch out for Hayes when the brake pads come on.

• Without Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean in practice, veteran Dee Delaney and sophomore cornerbacks Zyon McCollum and Don Gardner filled in on the outside.

#Baker #Mayfield

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