3 Buccaneers Training Camp Storylines to Watch: Leonard Fournette, Offensive Additions
Training camp awaits the two-time Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and there are plenty of headlines surrounding their preseason. Expectations will be sky-high – a norm when Tom Brady is under center – with no shortage of news, rumors, and headlines. As we prepare for the start of NFL preseason, we dive into three storylines to watch for in Tampa Bay as they kick off training camp on Monday, August 1.
Storylines To Watch For
Is Leonard Fournette In Shape?
Over recent weeks, this has been one of the bigger storylines out of Tampa Bay. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that star running back Leonard Fournette showed up minicamp this offseason weighing nearly 260 pounds, well above his listed weight of 228. on the official roster. On Friday, Greg Auman of The Athletic reported that his trainer stated things were “definitely heading in the right direction” regarding Fournette’s weight.
Sorting this out should be a top priority for Tampa purely based on the instability behind Fournette in the team’s backfield. The 27-year-old has proven to be pivotal to the team’s offensive attack, especially on their run to a Super Bowl in 2020. Keeping him in good health and ready for the start of the season is crucial to their success in 2022.
Life Without Gronk
The Buccaneers took a crucial blow when tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement last month. As he has done throughout his career, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer proved time and time again to be Brady’s safety net within the offense.
The splits in Brady’s career of games played with and without Gronk are staggering. In 141 games with him on the field, Brady has completed 66 percent of his passes for 291.6 yards per game for a 4.21 touchdown to interception ratio and a 103.8 passer rating. In 48 games without Gronkowski, Brady has completed just 60.8 percent of his passes for 261.6 yards per game for a 2.86 touchdown to interception ratio and an 89.6 passer rating. Both Brady and the Buccaneers will need to find a way to adjust to life without Gronk if the 33-year-old is serious this time about his retirement.
Integration Of New Additions Into The Offense
With the loss of Gronk and the designation of Pro Bowl pass-catcher Chris Godwin on the PUP list, it leaves opportunities for some new faces to make an immediate impact.
Free-agent tight end Kyle Rudolphinked a one-year deal with Tampa Bay on Thursday as he’ll now battle with Cameron Brate for the starting spot on the depth chart. The former Minnesota Viking is a two-time Pro Bowler who now has a golden opportunity to be a vital part of one of the league’s top offenses after a disappointing one-year stint with the New York Giants.
Russell Gage signed with the Bucs back in March and should see plenty of targets to start the year. The 26-year-old wide receiver impressed over his past two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, hauling in 138 receptions for 1,556 yards and eight touchdowns. Keep an eye on his production to start the season with Godwin unavailable, as he could become a valuable third option to round out the season.
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