Bucs safeties coach Nick Rapone issues a challenge for Antoine Winfield Jr.

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers landed quite the steal in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, landing safety Antoine Winfield Jr. with the No. 45 overall pick.

Winfield made an immediate impact for the Bucs, earning a starting job in training camp and making big plays all year, including a key interception of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Tampa Bay’s blowout win in Super Bowl LV.

Heading into his third NFL season, Winfield is primed to take the next step as one of the premier defensive playmakers in the league.

Bucs safeties coach Nick Rapone has plenty of high praise for Winfield, but also issued him a challenge heading into the 2022 season.

“I think Antoine [Winfield Jr.] just gets better and better,” Rapone said. “That’s the type of kid he is because of his father and his background. He’s just a blue-collar guy. The one thing with Winfield where I challenged him this year is – run-support wise, you’re beautiful – and you’re beautiful in a lot of areas – let’s start getting six and seven interceptions a year. Let’s make that the next step where you’re going to get six or seven interceptions. The real good players and the best players love to get challenged. So that’s the challenge this year – let’s get six and seven interceptions. We know you can blitz, we know you can tackle. We know you can pass-defend – let’s get the football a little more.”

Winfield has three interceptions and 12 pass breakups over his first two seasons, along with four fumble recoveries and five sacks. He made the Pro Bowl last season, and clearly has a knack for making big plays.

If he can start grabbing six or seven interceptions per season, Winfield will cement himself as one of the NFL’s most prolific players at his position.

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