TAMPA, Fla. — For all the attention the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense got this offseason, the defense has stolen the show at the start of training camp, even before the pads have come on.
On Saturday, safety J.J. Wilcox picked off a Ryan Griffin pass that bounced out of wide receiver Freddie Martino‘s hands during 7-on-7s. Wilcox also swatted the ball away from tight end O.J. Howard on a jump ball from Griffin.
“He made a couple plays on the ball today, getting it out,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said of Wilcox. “He about took [wide receiver Bernard] Reedy‘s head off on one of those last ones. He’s a big hitter.”
Cornerback Brent Grimes leaped up into the air and plucked the ball out of Martino’s hands on a pass from Jameis Winston. Grimes stripped the ball on what was initially a catch on an underneath pass to tight end Cameron Brate, and cornerback Javien Elliott broke up a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Safety Chris Conte, who’s been lining up with the first-team defense, broke up a deep pass and had a fumble recovery on back-to-back plays during 7-on-7s.
“That’s confidence,” Koetter said. “Our defense believes they can take the ball away and they feed off each other. Today, it was Vernon Hargreaves. He got it out a couple of times. It fires the other guys up.”
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