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Buccaneers OC Dave Canales: QB competition between Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask has 'absolutely' tightened

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' nondescript quarterback battle between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask rages on in the early stages of training camp.

The pervasive assumption this offseason that Mayfield would run away with the gig led most to overlook, or flat-out ignore, the competition taking place for the right to succeed Tom Brady under center.

Asked Tuesday if the battle for the Bucs' starting quarterback job has tightened in recent days, offensive coordinator Dave Canales responded: "Oh, absolutely."

"It has been good. The first couple of days, the experience that Baker brings just playing in games, being in camps, going through installs, you can see where the offense was gelling really well," he said, via the team's official transcript. "The timing of the snap is really critical for us, so probably a little bit of an edge for Baker to start off in terms of the smoothness of the offense. But it just took a couple of days for Kyle to really settle in and then what we saw in the last two practices, Kyle really showed what he can do, stretching the field with his arm, getting the ball out quickly, and making decisions. I am really excited about both of those guys and the progression that they have made throughout the last couple of days."

The Bucs have rotated Mayfield and Trask with the first-team offense.

"I think what we are seeing is a couple of guys who both have to put themselves into that starter mind frame going into the practices, knowing, 'Hey, today is my day. I get to roll with the ones. I get a few more reps,'" Canales said. "It is pretty much even, even with the way we go ones and twos, the way we do it. I just see the two guys really challenging each other. Then the cool part is in our room, which a lot of people don't get to see and hear, is just rule number one, we are here to help the Bucs win. Whatever that is, we do that. The second rule is, we help each other. Coach [Tom] Moore, myself, Thaddeus Lewis, Jordan Somerville, the assistant quarterbacks coach -- now you have four coaches with three players. We are all in there talking. If there is something that benefits the team on a play, somebody sees it and says it. You see the guys helping each other and it is really just elevating the room and the competition factor."

Mayfield's experience, coupled with Trask's lack of play-time outside of one appearance in Week 18 last season, in which he completed 3 of 9 passes, led to the presumption that the former No. 1 pick would earn the gig going away. It's why he inked a one-year deal in Tampa in the first place -- to revive his sliding stock.

That Trask has closed the gap can be viewed in several different ways: The young second-round pick is developing in his first real chance to run the offense; Mayfield hasn't done enough to end the competition outright; or it's coach-speak to keep the perception of competition alive at this stage of camp.

Both Canales and head coach Todd Bowles have each praised Trask's improvement this offseason.

"Their No. 1 responsibility is don't turn the ball over," Bowles said of QBs. "And (Trask) has been doing a good job of not turning it over."

The Bucs plan to give each Mayfield and Trask a start during the first two weeks of the preseason. Bowles said on Tuesday they'll decide after the first two who will start that third game. Given that the coach has previously said he wants to name a starter during preseason action, we can assume whichever earns that start against the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 26, will be in the saddle Week 1.

Oh, and with all this Baker-Trask talk, we forgot to mention the third wheel on this humdrum date.

"Don't leave John Wolford out of the deal, too," Canales said, mentioning the third QB on the Bucs roster. "He wants to make plays and he has his own style of doing it. He brings a lot to the table too, so it is a really good competitive cauldron that we are creating in there."

Noted, sir. Noted.

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