TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been at training camp for 10 days, and their first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals is less than a week away. Several question marks about position battles have been answered, but others still remain:
What we know now:
Chris Conte and Keith Tandy look like locks for the starting safety jobs. Both have consistently been the starting two at practice. However, J.J. Wilcox has made a number of impact plays with the second-team unit. He's also out on the field during the Bucs' big nickel package, where they have Conte, Tandy and Wilcox on the field together.
Javien Elliott is really setting himself apart in the battle for the starting nickelback job. The former FSU walk-on is consistently getting first-team reps. He plays with great anticipation, which is exactly what you want in a nickel. Robert McClain did have an interception to open up training camp, and Jude Adjei-Barimah did start 10 games for the Bucs at this spot last season, but Elliott has been consistent making plays.
Devante Bond continues to get all the first-team reps at strongside linebacker and will probably start. Although Kendell Beckwith had a very impressive college career at LSU, he is coming off of a torn ACL and is still learning Mike Smith's defense. He has zero restrictions with the knee, but he's still catching up in terms of physical conditioning. Bond missed all of last season with a hamstring injury, but unlike Beckwith, was able to get valuable reps during OTAs and minicamp.
Caleb Benenoch is working with the first-team unit as an extra offensive tackle. Leonard Wester is another candidate here. The team has been rotating both. The Bucs are expected to dress three tackles for each game, and whoever wins the job has to be able to play both sides.
Questions that still have to be answered:
Who will win the kicking job? During OTAs, mandatory minicamp and at the beginning of training camp, it looked like it'd be Nick Folk. Roberto Aguayo has really come on strong, however, going 10-for-10 in a recent practice that Koetter called "lights out," including making kicks of 53 and 54 yards, one of which he drilled through the skinny goal posts. Look for this battle to continue through the preseason.
Who will emerge as the backup quarterback? Ryan Griffin and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been rotating second- and third-team offensive reps. At times, Griffin has outplayed Fitzpatrick, who is still learning Koetter's offense while Griffin is going on his third year in it. Koetter loves the experience Fitzpatrick brings to the quarterback meeting room. If the two remain neck-and-neck by the preseason's end, might this prompt Koetter and general manager Jason Licht to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster? Koetter previously said they were leaning toward two.
The Bucs first four receivers -- Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Humphries and Chris Godwin -- are basically locks. The battle for the final spot looks to be between Donteea Dye and Josh Huff. Dye has been the more consistent performer, while Huff has had some drops. Playing under the lights changes a lot, however.