Versatility and pure talent
It’s not exactly a secret that Antoine Winfield is a versatile and talented player. Entering his third season out of Golden Gopher Country, Winfield has lived up to the hype since becoming a starter in his rookie season and helping Tampa win its second Super Bowl. Winfield’s pedigree is top-notch, handed down from his father of the same name. The father and son stay in touch and go over things concerning his play quite often, which helps the younger Winfield fine-tune his output on the field. It’s almost like having a friendlier, more familiar 2nd position coach at his disposal.
Winfield’s role changes to some degree
Winfield’s role on the defense this season has changed due to Jordan Whitehead leaving via free agency this spring. Using that versatility, Winfield will be playing up, closer to the line of scrimmage this season, with an eye out for containing the run and short drop-offs in the passing game. Getting after the quarterback will be another thing that he will have more chances to do now than before. In short, be prepared to see more big plays coming from Winfield than before. In my mind, I foresee this defense as being possibly the best to ever step onto the field for the Bucs. That, of course, is saying quite a bit. Much of that will rely on young players like Joe Tryon and Anthony Nelson, who will be getting more playing time in 2022. It also depends on a player like Devin White reasserting themselves and blossoming into that big play guy that we all know he can be. Lavonte David looks poised to have a colossal season from the bit of play I’ve seen from him so far in the preseason as well; that guy is just straight money roaming the middle. It seems like David just gets better with every passing season.
Mike Edwards finally gets his time to shine
Another changing of the guard has transpired from Whitehead moving on. Mike Edwards, finally, moves into the starting group and can finally throw into the pot what he brings to the defense. Since his arrival in Tampa in 2019, Edwards has made an impact at times with a few big plays. Now that he will be in there full-time, you can expect big things from the Wildcat out of Kentucky. Mostly it’s just a feeling that I have about the guy. I feel that he has a huge upside and many “whoa baby” moments in his future on this stifling defense. Remember that I said that when you see him running down the field for a pick-six this season.
Jason Licht’s draft picks just keep giving and giving, and for the most part, the man truly is underappreciated here. Yes, the bringing of Tom Brady here was the quintessential final piece in the overall picture of success, but it takes many in the foundation to support a championship-caliber team. Antoine Winfield and Mike Edwards are a big part of that foundation, and I feel they will take steps forward this season in proving that. Go Bucs!!
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