The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into the 2022 season hoping to end the year as champions just as they did two-seasons ago. Now featuring weapons such as Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and newcomer Julio Jones, with legendary quarterback Tom Brady throwing this Pro Bowl trio the football, that could happen.
Before we get there though, we have to start the regular season – And before we start the regular season, we begin the season with training camp.
Training camp is a special part of year because it’s the first time you truly see what each player on the team can do. Coaches get to see which rotations make the most sense, players get to have a feel for their teammates tendencies, and the rest of us get to see all the surprises that unfold.
The latter is what we’ll be discussing here, as we break down the pleasant surprises from Tampa Bay’s ’22 training camp.
Buccaneers training camp surprises
3. Scotty Miller
Scotty Miller is continuing to put on a show in front of his teammates and coaches.
On Tuesday, the 25-year-old took center stage throughout the entire day, including making the play of the day on a deep ball from Tom Brady.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 1, 2022
While Miller is surprising some people with his spectacular play at camp, this is nothing less than head coach Todd Bowles expected from the receiver. When addressing the media on Tuesday, Bowles explained what Miller can do to earn a roster spot, and it had nothing to do with becoming a better player.
“Staying healthy is the main thing. He goes two or three weeks and he has a freak injury that’s kind of holding him back some. But he’s healthy right now, he’s stronger, he looks fast. Again, it’s the first day of pads. It’s a war of attrition going through preseason, so we’ll just take it day by day and try to keep him fresh”
To Bowles credit, he does have a point. In 2019, Miller’s rookie year, the sixth-round draft pick was placed on the Injured Reserves list towards the end of the season. In 2021, just two years later, Miller once again found himself back on the IR list missing seven contests.
Still, the value of the Buc’s speedster is undeniable, as shown during Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl run.
Miller is fighting for a spot on the Buccaneers roster in a crowded receiver room that showcases Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones and Russell Gage. If he can stay healthy, Miller should be smooth sailing to a roster spot.
2. Cade Otton
The Buccaneers drafted Otton in the fourth-round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and so far, he’s been well worth the pick.
Otton has been fighting an uphill battle since entering the NFL. After suffering an ankle injury late in the ’21 season, Tampa’s rookie was finally able to return to practice this week. Since returning, the 23-year-old has left a great impression on his teammates and coaches.
Tight end Cameron Brate had nothing but great things to say about Otton when addressing the media.
“He’s super smart, already a really good blocker. Like technically you can tell that he’s been coached really well.”
Brate isn’t the only one who’s been impressed with Otton, either. Todd Bowles wasn’t shy on giving his thoughts on the rookie tight end.
“Cade’s a very cerebral player. You won’t see all the speed and power, but then you look up and he’s always doing the right things. He’s always in the right place, he has great hands, he understands how to play the game. I think that a lot of young players don’t have that. He has that coming in, so that’s going to benefit him going forward.”
With both Kyle Rudolph and Cameron Brate on the roster, it may prove difficult for Otton to find time on the field this upcoming season. If his first week back in action means anything, though, the Buccaneers have a stud on their hands for the future.
1. Robert Hainsey
Hainsey’s strides in camp are truly a blessing for this Tampa Bay team. Last week, Ryan Jensen, the Buccaneers Pro Bowl center, was carted off the field with a knee injury. The team fears the worst, being Jensen will miss the entirety of the ’22 season.
This is why Hainsey, who will take over in Jensen’s absence, is so crucial to the Buc’s.
The 23-year-old offensive lineman has been up for the challenge since the beginning, and Todd Bowles knows it. When talking about Hainsey to the media, Bowles showered the Notre Dame alum in praise.
“He’s very smart. He can see defenses – He can help the quarterback that way, can help the offensive line”
Hainsey proved Bowles right in camp on Tuesday, when he faced off against Pro Bowl nose tackle Vita Vea, frequently coming out victorious. Per Buccaneer’s senior editor Scott Smith, Hainsey was instantly applauded for his efforts against the 347lb defensive tackle.
Robert Hainsey, who is trying to win the vacant center job, had a really nice rep in OL/DL one-on-ones against Vita Vea, which is saying a lot. Tons of praise from coaches and teammates.
— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) August 2, 2022
The progression with Hainsey will be a monster thing to note, being he’ll be the center for seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. So far, things are looking great, and that’s the best news of camp so far.