Bucs cornerback Jyon McCollum was poised to take on a very important role as Tampa Bay’s outside starting corner. Perhaps that’s the difference between the first and second year. McCollum made just his fourth career start and his first, replacing injured Carlton Davis III (toe). Beginning of the 2023 season.
Last season, McCollum was drafted as an opponent, but he came out big against the Bears and had a really good game.
In the Bucks’ 27-17 win, McCollum made three tackles (two solo) and nearly went down with an interception. He caught the ball and kept his feet in bounds, but the receiver knocked the ball out at the last moment. He started reading the game much faster than before.McCollum will be a key component this season and in seasons to come. To the Bucs defense. And when a player is ready, he doesn’t have to be ready.
“I knew at some point in the season I had to step up and be the starter,” Zion McCollum said. “If you told me that would happen in the second week of the offseason, I would have shaken my head, ‘No way.’ But that’s the game of football.
“I had a really good week preparing, meeting with a lot of coaches and getting familiar with the game plan. What’s the point of preparing? I went out there. [and] I wasn’t thinking about anything, I was just playing. ”
Zion McCullum feels ready to take over
Since training camp, Zion McCollum has looked like a different player, in a good way. He’s still as fast as he was, but he has a better understanding of the defense and the speed of the game in his NFL career, allowing him to cover more field. He carried the momentum from camp and preseason into Week 1, where he had an interception against Pittsburgh, and showed exceptional work on special teams as a gunner who drops to make open-field tackles on returners.
For McCollum, playing well on special teams translated into playing well on defense. But the biggest factor in McCollum’s improved play was his confidence. You can tell he’s hanging around Carlton Davis III because he’s starting to put on a similar bravado.
“Confidence-wise, I feel really great, especially on the inside,” Zion McCollum said. “I knew this was an important game for me, but [so] I just put pressure on myself to say that. [to myself]your career can go one of two ways and this game is really a defining moment for me, especially being my first start in my second year.
“So, I took it and ran with it. I always thought that athletically I was bigger, stronger and faster than any receiver I would ever play against, and it was just a thing [about] I truly believe that. I’m going to bet on myself every time because I know at the end of the day it’s me versus them. ”
Consistency is key for Zion McCollum
Week 3 brings a whole new challenge for Zion McCollum and the Bucks. With Jalen Hurts at quarterback and wide receivers AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith, the Eagles’ offense is poised for a major upgrade. This is Tampa Bay’s toughest challenge yet, and McCollum will need to maintain that confidence against the toughest opponent he will face.
“There was a time in my career where I felt like I was on top of the world and confident that nothing could slow me down. There are times when everything turns to water and you grab hold of it and it slips away.
“For me, it’s just trying to find consistency in all of that. It’s okay to be consistent, but it’s not okay to be confident one week and not confident another week.” Finding a medium and trying to navigate all of that is really helping me increase my confidence now and really make it stick.”