Bear Essentials

July 20th, 2019

No, that’s not a typo in headline


Two fields, one goal.

Get better.

The Bucs haven’t exactly been known for developing young players in recent years, but that shameful weakness may be about to change.

New boss Bruce Arians can’t wait to unveil a new strategy next week, when Buc players take the field for the opening practice of training camp. Capitalizing on the biggest coaching staff in franchise history, Arians will rip a page out of the Bear Bryant playbook and stage two full and simultaneous training sessions.

As an assistant for Bryant at Alabama, Arians saw how the legendary coach poured the Tide across four fields to maximize instruction. Arians figures the same approach will motivate young Bucs to seek higher ground.

“Yeah, there’s no doubt,” he says. “If you’re on Field 2, you want to put great stuff on tape to get over there to Field 1.”

This process is gold for players stuck at the back end of the roster, guys who haven’t been given much of an opportunity to showcase their skills.

Ira Kaufman looks at the bottom of the Bucs roster

For inside linebacker Jack Cichy, it’s a chance to show new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles he can be a contributor. Cichy suffered an ACL tear in October that ended his rookie season after six games. Coupled with Cichy’s knee issues at Wisconsin, the former sixth-round pick has much to prove on the pro level.

For Isaiah Johnson, the Arians plan gives him a better opportunity to stand out in a crowded safety field.

Johnson played in 15 games last year, with 4 starts, and he posted 45 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery that led to the winning field goal in OT against Cleveland. It’s hard to believe that at 26, Johnson is the oldest of the 9 safeties on the current roster.

Chasing Earl

For offensive lineman Alex Cappa, it’s time to throw his weight around … whatever field Arians has in mind. A third-round pick out of Division II Humboldt State, Cappa was inactive through the first 10 games in 2018, even while Caleb Benenoch was overmatched at right guard.

When Mike Mayock was working for NFL Network instead of the Raiders, he said Cappa’s college tape was beyond nasty. If Cappa intends to beat out veteran Earl Watford for Benenoch’s old spot, he’s got to prove he can manhandle Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea in the trenches at times.

Cappa also has to compete against Mike Liedtke, a versatile lineman who was inactive the first seven games last season. Liedtke broke into the league with Miami as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and he’s hungry to show he belongs on an NFL roster.

“There’s no doubt that the more reps you get, the better you get, the more exposure you get,” Arians says. “Your tape is your resume. The more you put on tape, the better chance you’ll have.”

Justin Watson will get loads of opportunity

At wide receiver, where DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries have vacated their lockers and moved on, Justin Watson can’t wait for camp to begin. The fifth-round pick in 2018 has already caught the eye of Arians, but soon the pads will go on. Watson needs to go off.

“He’s shown me he can play,” Arians says.

Stuck behind a deep and talented receiving corps, Watson was afforded only 73 snaps on offense as a rookie, finishing with one catch. He’ll get a long look to join Breshad Perriman behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the depth chart.

From the vantage point of the covered bleachers, Buc fans can check out two full training sessions each day that camp is open to the general public.

For players fighting for a roster spot, these are the fields of dreams.

17 Responses to “Bear Essentials”

  1. Magadude Says:

    It is good to see the team actually using the facility to its capability. The most I’ve ever seen is two fields used at once, but even then, the second one was usually for rehab, small squad work, or special teams. This will be great to watch!

  2. Johnny Says:

    I’m intrigued by Cichy, thanks for the update. Chuck Berry forever.

  3. Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    “As Joe counts the seconds to the start of training camp…”

    Thank you Joe(s) and Ira for another fine, if not better, offseason of Bucs talk. Training camp is a matter of hours away! Thanks for keeping us all plugged in. This month, often times JBF had more to read on the Bucs than PFT had on 32 different teams. Your tremendous efforts are very much appreciated.

  4. Destinjohnny Says:

    Bear talking to incoming freshman

  5. WhatdaBUCisthis Says:

    At this point, one should take away is that they’ll be prepared to play. Better than Tennessee ready anyway. As Phil Collins sang… I can feel it… 10-6 baby
    Go BUCS

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Ira … So Cappa has to prove he can ‘manhandle’ Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea in the trenches?

    Why do I have the feeling that while Vea & Suh will be sleeping like babies each night, thoughts like that will keep Cappa up til dawn? ‘Manhandle’ Vea & Suh, yup that’s gonna happen.

  7. Sport Says:

    Irv, its about time you came around on this topic, and in fine fashion as well. Totally forgot about Cichy. He has shown the ability in college to make plays.

    Back to the large coaching staff, why do you make such a

    2 felds, heightened competition, more coaching, more tape, coaches improving, players improving, Bear Bryant. Could/should lead to rapid improvement and faster corrections before and during the season, I know I’ll feel better about next man up. Especially when we have to pull guys off the street due to injuries like last year.

    Also, you hear about ‘veteran leadership’ being such a big factor (especially Shill Joe, he is conflicted by leadership, he talks about how overrated it is, then a few moments later he is talking about how we lack leadership). Veteran leadership will become less important if the entire team is being coached the same way on field 2. The only reason you need veteran leadership is if you don’t know how to act, what to do, or the right mindset. If the coaches are doing their job on field 2, then field.1 gets filled players that know what and how.go.handle themselves. And eventually the Game Field.

    What else is bothering you?

    In BA I Trust!

  8. #1bucsfan Says:

    Same here I’d like to see more of cichy an Watson. I mean Watson has the size an the speed.

  9. JimmyJack Says:

    Dang Ira….It aren’t often an article pumps me up on this site but your did it for me! Thanks man.

    Following this organization over the last 2 decades I barely know what developement means anymore. It seems like to only way to upgrade a position can only but with a high end draft choice or a highly touted free agent…….and that usually seems to fail too.

    And I love how you brought up some unpopular player like Chinchy & Johnson. Everybody’s talking about RoJo and Spence like they are the only guys who are trainable……Fact is them guys can fail and the Bucs can still come out on top. That’s because of guys like you mentioned.

    And what happens every year in the NFL? Guys no fans are talking about make BigTime impacts. We just don’t get a whole bunch of them in Tampa……If Bruce and his staff can change that then sprikle in some Vea, Evans & Suh and we will be cooking with some serious fire!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  10. JimmyJack Says:


  11. BucEmUp Says:

    Defense I was thinking the same thing lol.

    However its still a huge positve to have our line practicing againt those guys with real coaching.

    Man this got me fired up!!!! ITS ALMOST HERE!!!!

  12. Bob in Valrico Says:

    All this competition sounds good . That said, training camp is still a shell of what training camp was before NFL players association tried to fix it .

  13. AJ Says:

    ‘I love this idea of “Varsity” and “Junior Varsity” competition. Can’t help but think this is a plus to get the best 52 at the end of camp….

  14. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I love this idea. It will clearly promote depth and we’ll have solid players stashed away.

    Frequently the difference between a good team and a great team is simply depth. This gives us a chance to be a great organization year in and year out.

  15. Alanbucsfan Says:

    “No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher” –

    Mr Miyagi, Karate Kid

  16. Barbosa Says:

    Excellent article Ira. At the very least, quality has returned to the coaching staff. We turned in a Toyota Camry and are now sitting behind the wheel of a BMW.

  17. Barbosa Says:

    Or maybe a Cadillac!!