August 22nd, 2018

Bucs rookie CB M.J. Stewart (36) punches the ball away from Titans RB Dion Lewis Saturday night.

It caught the direct attention of Ronde Barber.

Bucs rookie corner M.J. Stewart is starting to build a reputation as a guy who forces turnovers in just two preseason games.

Last weekend at Tennessee, Stewart forced two turnovers in a 30-14 Bucs win. And when Stewart punched the ball away from Titans running back Dion Lewis allowing Lavonte David to recover, Barber, who is the Bucs’ preseason television color analyst, nearly jumped out of the broadcast booth in deep appreciate of Stewart’s skills.

“I don’t know who is teaching [Stewart] this, but this guy is ball-aware man,” Barber gloated. “Being able to make tackles is one thing. Being ball-aware is something entirely different. It puts you on a different level as a defender.”

In fact, if the Bucs ever do become great again on defense, Barber believes the Bucs may have found their catalyst: Stewart.

“If you are going to be a dominant defense in this league you are going to have to be able to cause turnovers,” Barber said.

So far, though it is early, way early, it sure seems like Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht struck again. These two rookie corners, Carlton Davis and Stewart, are the real deals.

20 Responses to ““Ball-aware””

  1. Reality_43 Says:

    I think every rookie will make this team and contribute.
    The only question would be Cichy and I think Koetter addressed that specifically with his Cameron Lynch as a veteran vs upside for young players.

    I think they go with upside.

  2. joestang Says:

    Ronde should know

  3. El Buco Realisto Says:

    The Great Rhonde Barber was even impressed that as a rookie in his early action of pre-season that he had the “instinct”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! While he may not be the “catalyst” he is a piece that this roster did not have last year!!!!!!!!!!!

    Fix the “real” problem!!!!!!!!! The roster!!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Bird Says:

    Have to be honest … when I heard MJ Stewart and Carlton Davis during draft , I was like who? (Especially MJ)

    Especially with higher guys ranked at DB on board. Think these two could be future of bucs defense on back end . I know it’s only preseason but it seems like you here MJ’s name 2 or 3 times each practice and game. Not a coincidence?

  5. buc15 Says:

    Every defender on an NFL level should be ball aware.

  6. Owlykat Says:

    M.J. needs to teach the rest of the DBs and Safeties on the Bucs how to do it!

  7. Not there yet Says:

    Wow how did the bucs develop 2 corners in a matter of months hmm. Bucs don’t know how to develop corners is what some nut had been saying or could it be we simply found 2 quality football players

  8. Eric Says:

    always thought the ball was important.

  9. 813bucboi Says:


    I wouldn’t say the staff “developed” CB’s just off there PS performance….last year VHG, made a beautiful pick vs the jags….had a strong PS….and then regressed…..

    lets see what they do when the “real” bullets start flying….


  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Yet another new username from someone unable to be accountable.

    Ah well.

    I remember Ronde (proper spelling) saying that. I thought, “It’s about time we had a cb Ronde likes.”

  11. Pryda... sec147 Says:

    Pass rush is the biggest difference!!!

  12. Jjones Says:

    We all use sudo names on here, stop whining about accountability or is your real name Buccaneer Bonzai?

  13. AmericasEnabler Says:

    He’s one of a handful of players on defense that have actually made a play this preseason. Remember when almost everyone on defense could cause a turnover? God I miss those days.

  14. AmericasEnabler Says:

    Pryda… sec147 Says:
    August 22nd, 2018 at 10:40 am
    Pass rush is the biggest difference!!!

    ^^^What pass rush? Dumbass.

  15. El Buco Realisto Says:

    @Buc Bonzai

    Some do not want to change, But are unwilling to wait hours until a comment is approved!!!!!!!!!! if shown at all!!!!!!!!!!! And comments about “accountability might be the reason that double secret probation was issued in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Wausa Says:

    I felt like I was alone on an island on this site praising MJ Stewart when the Bucs drafted him.

    He was outstanding at UNC. I thought he was as good as Mike Hughes(1st round pick of the Vikings) when they played together at UNC. Then when MJ Stewart went to the Senior Bowl he was named the top defensive back.

    It’s very early but to me MJ Stewart looks like a great selection

  17. Billy_43 Says:

    BuccaREAR Bonzai

  18. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Love how dudes gotta put their little negative spin on a good story and this site is full of them! Like the ball isn’t important to each player but for your so called informed mind players don’t always go for the ball instead they go for the tackle, and at the NFL level rookies don’t always have all the instincts needed to succeed that’s why they’re rooks and need to be taught. What is the gist of this story is when you go back and look at the play Stuart the rookie saw how the runner was carrying the ball and went straight for the strip. Something that is usually DEVELOPED at the pro level, very heads up play! If that instinct is already there were are going to be seeing a lot more turnovers something to look forward too!

  19. AlabamaBucFan Says:

    MJ was considered one of the best press CB in the draft. With Him and Davis being considered as some of the top press CB in the draft, I am still puzzled why the bucs drafted both, especially when Mike Smith like his guys playing 8 feet off the WR.

  20. Waterboy Says:

    When I first heard them call MJ Stewart’s name during the draft I immediately sent a text to one of my buddies who is s big UNC fan saying “Who the h@$$ is MJ Stewart?” and he replied “Trust me you’re going to love that pick.”. So far he’s right that guy looks like a baller! Being a UNC guy Licht may have sensed an interest from the Panthers to take him a few picks later if they didn’t take him ahead of Davis in that round.