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Kyle Trask focused on 'protecting the football' in Buccaneers' QB competition with Baker Mayfield

The quarterback competition in Tampa Bay is heating up as the first preseason game approaches Friday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

By seemingly every account, Kyle Trask's training camp performance has tightened the competition with Baker Mayfield, giving the third-year QB a shot at winning the job outright heading into Week 1.

"I've been in a lot of quarterback competitions in my football career and I think the main thing you can focus on is just playing the best that you can," Trask said Monday, via the team's official transcript. "There's a lot of things that are out of your hands, in terms of the competition, like you were talking about. It's the same for me: Stay focused on what I can do. I know it's obviously cliché, but it's the truth -- I'm just focused on getting our offense in the best play, the best checks that I possibly can."

Trask has closed the gap on Mayfield in part by protecting the ball during practices. Coach Todd Bowles and new offensive coordinator Dave Canales have noted the young QB's lack of turnovers playing a big factor in the competition.

The 25-year-old QB said learning the past two years behind Tom Brady helped him understand the risk/reward of taking chances.

"I've definitely been seeing what I can and can't do for the past two years (in practices)," Trask said. "I think I have a much better idea now. I know what situations you have to take more risks in and I think if we can just play clean as an offense, that's going to give us the best chance to win in the end. I'm just trying to do the best that I can do, which includes protecting the football."

Trask added that his authority in the huddle and confidence leading the offense have increased this offseason as he attempts to become Brady's heir.

"[My voice] has 100% absolutely grown since last year," he said. "I was just a young quarterback in the NFL, trying to call a play in the huddle. It's kind of hard. You don't realize how much studying it actually takes. You really have to make it your livelihood -- to go home, study, make sacrifices with your time. I've just been trying to study as much as I can. I feel like [it] personally pays when I come out here and I'm able to just be confident and play fast. I'm just going to continue to do that."

The simple truth is that there isn't enough information on Trask to know if he has the mettle to lead the Bucs. He's appeared in one game (Week 18 last year), completing 3 of 9 passes. It's positive that he's not bombing camp practices, but the preseason -- when he can get truly pressured and hit -- will tell the bigger tale.

Trask knows his performance Friday will play a significant role in who ultimately wins the starting gig, but he won't let himself get too worked up.

"It's another brick in this competition if you will," he said. "There's nothing I can focus on other than just going out there and trying to run the play the best that I possibly can and play clean football and just go out there and have fun."

The Bucs take on the Steelers on Friday, the Jets on Aug. 19, and the Ravens on Aug. 26. Bowles previously said he wants to name a starter during preseason, so in the coming weeks, we should have our answer as to who will be under center in Tampa in Week 1.

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