Observations from Tampa Bay Buccaneers OTAs on Day One

Everything you need to know from the first day of Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2021 organized team activities.
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Photo: Ryan Griffin and teammates at Buccaneers OTAs; Credit: Zach Goodall, AllBucs.com

The first day of Tampa Bay Buccaneers' voluntary organized team activities, one of two that will be open to media, is officially in the books. Find AllBucs' immediate takeaways and important quotes from head coach Bruce Arians below, following the conclusion of the team's first practice.

Attendance

AllBucs counted 42 participating players at the first day of Buccaneers organized team activities, not including rookie edge rusher Joe Tryon who attended the practice but did not dress as he continues to recover from a minor knee scope. 

Most rookies and rostered players in attendance for Buccaneers' rookie camp earlier in May took part in Tuesday's activities, including each draft pick (besides Tryon). Although there weren't a ton of proven veterans and zero starters on the scene, Giovani Bernard took reps at running back after the eight-year pro signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in April.

Wide receiver Jaydon Mickens was also at the Buccaneers' practice. Mickens was arrested in Los Angeles, Calif. in March on a felony gun charge after police found a concealed firearm during a routine traffic stop, and there have been no further updates on his legal case since.

Quick notes

  • Tight end Tanner Hudson stood out by making five catches during team drills and not dropping a single pass. Hudson made a leaping grab in the early part of 11 vs. 11s, made some receptions across the intermediate middle of the field, and hauled in a pass on a corner route that could have ended in a touchdown as Hudson had his coverage defender beat.
  • Linebacker Grant Stuard raised concerns as a coverage defender throughout his college career, but those weren't evident on Tuesday. In fact, Stuard earned praise from coaches for a rep that ended in an incomplete pass up the seam, with the Houston product in sticky coverage. The throw was into a tight window, and although AllBucs couldn't confirm it from our angle, it appeared as though Stuard broke it up.
  • Wide receiver Jaelon Darden continues to remove doubt regarding his size, even in a limited fashion. Although he didn't make many stand-out grabs, Darden caught a pass on a curl route outside of his frame with great reactionary quickness after breaking into his route, with defenders swarming in the middle of the field. 
  • Beyond coverage in team drills, it's tough to get a feel for defenders without pads on. However, edge rusher Ladarius Hamilton at least looked the part in individual drills. At the pass rush hoops, Hamilton wasted little movement and enthused outside linebackers coach Larry Foote with his quickness breaking down and turning the corner.
  • Third-round rookie offensive lineman Robert Hainsey continues to train at center as he did in rookie mini-camp. Arians commended Hainsey for his transition but admitted that he needs to improve snapping under center, as two snaps were botched and ended on the ground throughout the day.
  • Newly-signed cornerback Dee Delaney took snaps at outside and nickel corner during the defensive install period.
  • Stuard and fellow rookie K.J. Britt were Tampa Bay's sole inside linebackers on Thursday, one of a couple of positions that lacked practice depth. Arians shared that linebacker Joseph Jones's family is expecting the birth of his third child, which kept Jones away from the beginning of OTAs.

Quarterbacks

Ryan Griffin: 13-of-14 passing, two would-be sacks (if the defense was live).

Notes: Griffin, the "first string" of Tampa Bay's two QBs on-site, was fairly automatic throughout team drills, throwing with anticipation and accuracy on short passes while making his way down the field on two completions targeting Hudson. Griffin is on the roster bubble after the Buccaneers' selected a quarterback in the second round of April's draft, making this his most important offseason in Tampa Bay in some time as he battles Blaine Gabbert for the veteran backup QB gig.

Kyle Trask: 6-of-11 passing, one would-be sack.

Notes: Trask seemingly took a step back after ending rookie mini-camp on a strong note. His arm strength has raised questions in the past, and although pure strength isn't our biggest concern, Trask has work to do with his touch passing and unlocking velocity on certain passes. Trask overthrew an open go-route and underthrew a pass to the flats in team drills, both ending incomplete. His throws into the middle of the field throughout the day were fairly accurate.

What Bruce Arians said

Regarding the beginning of OTAs: "Good start. I liked the attendance, the guys that need to be here are here. And, excellent tempo to practice. Some guys are still hearing it for the first time but the veteran guys I thought looked really, really fast. Some new guys looked good too."

Regarding wide receiver Antonio Brown's re-signing: "It's great. He had his [knee] procedure done and he looks good. Saw him in the team room this morning, and all that is done and he's ready to roll."

Regarding his impressions of Giovani Bernard: "He did great today, I mean he's really smart. He picked everything up and, you know, obviously he's been working with the older guys too. But he looked really good."

Regarding the goals of OTAs: [Figuring out how much information players can retain] was really rookie mini-camp. Now it's about, we should be able to retain and know the plays, show us what you've got on tape. These practices, for [defensive backs], wide receivers, other than offensive linemen and defensive linemen, this is very critical practice for you to make the team."