An NFL training camp can have a repetitive, grinding feel for its participants, even in the post-two-a-day era. Players work hard, study long hours and focus intently on football, and one day's packed schedule is usually very much like the one before it.
Steven Means, an under-the-radar pass-rush prospect out of the University at Buffalo, is about to begin his first NFL training camp. He's fine with the routine of repetition, as long as every day concludes in the same way, as well.
“To give it my all so that I have no regrets at the end of the day," said Means, when asked to name his goal for training camp. "To be on all special teams and be a pass rush… being everything I can be.”
Hard work will certainly get one noticed in a Greg Schiano training camp, and the potential results could even get Means onto the field in September. While the 23-year-old Buffalo native – the Bucs' fifth-round draft pick this past April – is right to put a lot of emphasis on special teams, the team is certainly not going to ignore any viable options to improve its lagging pass-rush. Schiano made it clear to the team's youngest players this spring that they would have an opportunity to earn a significant role.
“Coach said that when we first came in and I will leave that decision up to him," said Means. "All I do is come out here and give it my all every single day.”
Of course, the one thing better than hard work is focused hard work. Offseason sessions with Defensive Line Coach Randy Melvin and Pass Rush Specialist Bryan Cox has already brought some specific details to Means' attention in his efforts to make it in the NFL.
“I think I need to improve on my hands [and my] get-off," said the rookie. "You can never have good enough get-off. Coach Cox and Coach Melvin emphasize a lot on me using my hands more and throwing my hips more trying to get to the quarterback. [I'm] just trying to finalize all of my techniques as a pass-rusher.
“The biggest thing I’ve picked up is that, at this level, everybody’s good. There's not a lot of people that just stand out; unless you’ve got those freak athletes, you’ve got to fine-tune all the techniques. You’ve got to get in the playbook so you can go out there and be the best that you can be.”
Means has been working as an edge-rusher from both sides during his brief time with the Buccaneers, and if he could provide a spark he could emerge as a third-down quarterback-chaser this season. And, of course, his excellent ratio of speed to size (he's 6-4, 260) is surely intriguing to Special Teams Coordinator Dave Wannstedt. The Bucs' obvious willingness to rely on a handful of rookies last year – competent and prepared rookies like
"I looked at a couple people on this team this last year – Lavonte David – and I saw that he was out here," said Means. "So that gives me an extra boost, knowing that I can get out here and contribute in whatever way they want me to.”