With no preseason games this year, training camp is the only proving ground for players before final cuts. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are no exception. Fortunately, they have a few early stand-outs making an impression among a team of star players.
While Tampa Bay has several established stars like Tom Brady, Mike Evans and Lavonte David, they have several young players still out to prove that they belong on an NFL roster. With opportunities limited this year, the Bucs' rising stars have to move fast to secure their roster spots.
Here are three early stars from Bucs training camp:
S Mike Edwards
The Bucs young defensive backs have a lot riding on their success this year. Free safety Mike Edwards is wasting no time proving his value to the defense in camp.
Edwards is demonstrating a nose for the football, picking off the notoriously careful Tom Brady twice (from ESPN's Jenna Laine):
Edwards did not show the same play-making skills some of his peers in the secondary did down the stretch last season, so his early flashes are a good sign for the second-year defensive back.
WR Justin Watson
Tom Brady has a lot of talented receivers to throw to this season, so it's all the more impressive that third-year wide receiver Justin Watson is making an impression. The good news for Watson is that he is getting the attention of head coach Bruce Arians (via Buccaneers.com's Scott Smith):
Watson had been a non-factor on Tampa's offense until late last year when he saw more action following injuries to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, catching 14 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns in four games. His apparent progression in camp is a good sign for his chances to make the final roster in such a stacked group.
CB Parnell Motley
The lack of a preseason hurts undrafted free agents more than any other group of players. However, former Oklahoma cornerback Parnell Motley does not appear deterred, making his presence felt with a rare interception of Tom Brady early in camp (via the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud):
Motley was one of the best defensive backs in the Big 12 last season. He has a decent shot of making the Bucs' final roster if he maintains his playmaking ways and ensures the Bucs have a deep secondary heading into the regular season.