TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (15-5)
CAMP SITE: Tampa, Florida
LAST YEAR: With Tom Brady excelling despite not having a normal offseason and training camp to prepare for his first season with a new team, the Bucs shrugged off a three-game losing streak that dropped them to 7-5. They won eight straight down the stretch to end a 13-year playoff drought and become the first team to play and win a Super Bowl in its home stadium. It was Tampa Bay’s second NFL title, the seventh for Brady, who’ll turn 44 during camp this summer.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: LB Joe Tryon, OL Robert Hainsey, RB Giovani Bernard.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: None.
CAMP NEEDS: Coach Bruce Arians felt it took 12 games for Brady to become totally comfortable with the Bucs' offense, which flourished after a Week 13 bye. The defense, led by linebackers Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, peaked at the right time, too, capping an impressive postseason run with victories over Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Arians believes both units will be better with the team have a full training camp to prepare to defend its title.
KEY CAMP COMPETITIONS: With all 22 starters returning, as well as kicker Ryan Succop and punter Bradley Pinion, it’ll take injuries and/or a superb training camp from a newcomer or key reserve to crack the lineup. One battle to watch, though, will be for the backup quarterbacks jobs. Second-round draft pick Kyle Trask will compete with veterans Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin for one of two spots behind Brady.
EXPECTATIONS: Last year was Super Bowl or bust after signing Brady in free agency and adding offensive playmakers Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown to an already talent-laden roster. The approach hasn't changed, with Arians and general manager Jason Licht defying the odds of keeping the band together by placing the franchise tag on receiver Chris Godwin, signing David and Barrett to new deals and finding ways to create enough salary cap space to retain Gronkowski, Fournette, Brown and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.
FANDUEL SUPER BOWL ODDS: +650
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL