With rookie mini-camp officially in the books here are some observations from Day 2, which was held last Saturday.
If you missed Day 1’s takeaways, you can check them out here.
QB Kyle Trask
After an up-and down-practice Friday, Trask looked much cleaner throwing the ball during Saturday’s rookie mini-camp. Trask spent the early part of practice working on his drop backs with quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, fine tuning his footwork and taking advantage of the coaching opportunity as the only QB in camp. The rookie quarterback was sharp during 7-on-7s, completing nearly every pass; let alone for one drop by tryout running back Troymaine Pope.
Trask seemed to have good chemistry with tryout wide receiver Amara Darboh, finding him several times. One connection featured a nice throw down the right sideline with perfect placement in a tight window for a big gain. He continued to do well progressing through his read and you can see why coach Bruce Arians likes his processor, aka “brain”.
However, Trask had a bit of a rougher go during 11-on-11 work. He managed to complete a majority of his passes, although cornerback Cameron Kinley had a nice pass break up and the defense would have had 2.0 sacks if it were live. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did a nice job mixing and disguising coverages and sending extra pressure at the young QB.
Trask finding Darboh down the field on his second read pic.twitter.com/XfK8AtOn2Y
— Joshua Allen (@Joshua_C_Allen) May 15, 2021
Still, Arians continues to have high praise for the rookie quarterback saying, “I thought he was great. I thought he was fantastic. He’s got three guys coaching the shit out of him on every play, so they need to calm down and let him go. I’ve been really pleased with him and where he’s at right now.”
DB Cameron Kinley
Undrafted free agent cornerback Kinley continued to impress in his second practice during rookie mini-camp. After picking off Trask on Day 1, he followed up on Day 2 with a nice pass deflection. Kinley has done a nice job jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and especially staying with a smaller receiver like Jaelon Darden. If he remains productive throughout OTA’s and into training camp there is a real chance he can compete for the fifth cornerback spot with veterans Herb Miller, Nate Ross, Antonio Hamilton and rookie Chris Wilcox.
Trask under some pressure her by LaDarius Hamilton with Cameron Kinley on the break up pic.twitter.com/hD1usY5sS1
— Joshua Allen (@Joshua_C_Allen) May 15, 2021
S Javon Hagan
Second year safety Javon Hagan looks like he’s ready to take a leap this season. With a full season in the defense under his belt, he looked comfortable out there and took on a leadership role in the defensive secondary. He’ll have his work cut out for him with the additions of Raven Greene and Curtis Riley, but he should have a leg up on the competition. His offseason training hasn’t gone unnoticed with Arians commenting. “Hagan looks really good. He’s lost about 10- or 12-pounds and looks really, really good.”
LBs Grant Stuard and K.J. Britt
Rookie linebackers Stuard and Britt have been consistently making plays and more so captaining the defense as a whole. Britt ran the defense for the most part. He called plays, made checks and ensured that everyone lined up correctly. Stuard filled in for Britt and also showed off some skills. Arians has been pleased with the communication between the two saying. “It’s been fantastic. Those two guys are running the whole show already and it’s been really, really impressive.”
Stuard has been playing in multiple spots and has picked up the defense quickly. “He’s obviously really, really smart,” Arians said. “He has picked up about three positions already and he is full speed as soon as that whistle blows. That’s how he was on tape and where he was in college, so it’s exactly what we thought we were getting.”
The best chance they have to make the team -as with all the rookies- is to show what they can do on special teams. “That’s their biggest chance right now is to come in and show Keith [Armstrong] that they can be core special teamers – you’re talking 25-30 plays a game,” Arians said. “That will be their role and then continue to develop as a positional player. They can help a bunch, and that’s the way to make the team.”
OL Robert Hainsey
Hainsey has been playing center throughout rookie mini-camp. With media availability after practice Arians said the team will train him there as they feel he can play all five spots on the line.
“We’re going to train him so that he is ready to go just in case,” Arians told reporters. “His position flexibility is amazing. He’s going to play five spots. Center is a totally different bird. You learn the whole offense when you learn center – snapping the ball, especially when you’ve got Vita [Vea] and guys like that on you. That’s a little different challenge, so we’ll train him there. We know he can play tackle, we know he can play guard. I don’t think there is a position he can’t play. Whatever happens – barring injuries – he should be fine at a bunch of spots.”
Undrafted free agent Sadarius Hutcherson -who has been lining up at right guard- has been impressive as well and is one of my picks to make the final roster. “Another big, strong-looking guy. I can’t say that I’m displeased with any of those guys,” Arians said when describing Hutcherson. “They all look the part, and I can’t wait to see them in pads to tell you the truth.”
WR Jaelon Darden
With Darden’s size and production in the slot in college, it was interesting to note that his snaps on Day 2 of this rookie mini-camp were all on the outside of the formation. He made a nice grab down the left sideline, beating his man off the line of scrimmage with a quick release. His quickness with the ball in his hands was just as impressive. Arians talked about what he’s learned from the rookie receiver over his first two days of minicamp.
“He’s super quick and fast. He’s a little thicker than I thought he was going to be when I watched him. He catches punts very easily and catches the football extremely easily. He can be very explosive.” When asked about his size and smaller guys he said. “Well, I think of Scotty [Miller] and he wasn’t quite as thick. He is now, but he got bounced around by bigger stronger corners. I don’t see Jaelon quite that difficulty – just the body type is different.”
Other Practice Notables:
Undrafted free agent wide receiver T.J. Simmons caught nearly every ball thrown to him and while the chemistry was also there with Darboh, it was easy to see an early connection between Trask and the receivers.
You could immediately tell that tryout cornerback Antonio Hamilton has been in the league for the past four years, most recently playing in the Super Bowl with the Chiefs. He faces stiff competition after signing a one-year deal Sunday.
With it being a majority of the players first time in the facility and in an NFL practice there is little to discern from a rookie mini-camp as this. The competition won’t be the same when the rest of the team shows up and they will be moving at a much faster pace. But there are quite a few benefits for these rookies including seeing how much of the playbook they can learn and remember come OTA’s. “Just seeing how much the guys learn, seeing how they learn. We already pretty much know how athletic they are. Seeing how they learn, seeing how they compete and watch them interact.
“It’s been a great start so far,” Arians said. “You can get the volume of stuff taught. By the time they leave, they’ll have been exposed to about 70 percent of it. Then they’ll come back and get the rest. They will hear it all again when the veterans get in, but it’s a good start for them.”
Arians also gave an update on injured players O.J. Howard, Alex Cappa, and Jordan Whitehead. He said all three players are looking good in their recoveries, but he may limit them when it comes to OTA’s and mini-camp.
It’s a long season. Therefore, Arians doesn’t expect to practice a large number of the players that report when it comes to said minicamps. “The length of the season. You play four to six more weeks of practicing. It’ll drain you quick this time of year. Even if they come they’re not doing too much. We’ll get you ready in July and August, and there will be plenty of time. We have to go back and look at all of the things that we did wrong, as well as the things we did right. We won a world championship but did a lot of really bad things on tape that we have to fix – not necessarily on the field, but mentally.”
Next up on the docket is OTA’s which start May 25th. Check out the video below and keep it right here at Bucs Report for the latest on your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.