Chris Conte Impressing at Bucs Camp

Chris Conte has shown why he is entrenched as a starter on the Bucs defense.

Similar to Tampa's fourth round pick Ryan Smith, Bucs safety Chris Conte played corner in college but shifted to safety upon reaching the NFL. Versatility has proven to be a key component in GM Jason Licht's management philosophy, and both players are prime examples of that. Conte, who was acquired via free agency in early 2015 finished his first season as a Buc with 79 total tackles and two interceptions.
"I don't want to compare to last year, but (the defense) is a lot more complex," Chris Conte said after training camp Saturday. "It's just a different mentality, a different speed."
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith intends on keeping the unit in a flexible 4-3, but it's only natural that there will be some nuances in this year's defense compared to last year's. Conte's personal adjustments to fitting in the new system are still a work in progress, but he did come down with two picks in practice Saturday, and almost a third one as well. 
“Yeah, Conte really covers like a corner," Koetter said after Saturday's practice. "He’s a tall guy back there, he’s not built like a corner but if you watch him in 1-on-1 drills he can cover. The guy can cover wideouts so we’re real pleased with that.”
Mike Smith may ask Conte and the rest of the Tampa safeties to do a lot this year in his new defensive scheme. However, having versatile players like him that can jam the middle on some plays, while sticking close to receivers on others is going to be crucial in stopping a litany of formidable offenses that the Bucs are scheduled to face this year.


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