CB Aqib Talib didn't get many reps on Tuesday, but he got a feel for the speed of the NFL game
Seconds after a bright flash of lightning and the ensuing crack of thunder roared across the cloudy Florida sky on Tuesday morning, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers abruptly ended their "organized team activity" and streamed into the safe haven of their practice facility.
For rookie cornerback Aqib Talib, the haste with which he and his teammates hustled off the practice field was simply another dose of the amped-up speed he had discovered on his first day working with the Buccaneer veterans.
That's the main thing that struck Talib on Tuesday – the speed with which his more-experienced teammates practiced, compared to the team's rookie minicamp he had participated in a few weeks prior.
"This is a lot faster than rookie camp," Talib said. "It's a lot more plays thrown at you and the speed of the game is a lot faster. When you get the motion, you have to know exactly what to check, you have to know exactly what to do, and it's at a faster pace."
The morning's brief flash of pyrotechnics combined with Talib's rookie status to limit his number of snaps on Tuesday, but the first-round choice out of Kansas was still pleased with how the practice went.
"It felt good; I only got about six reps, but what I did get was good," Talib said. "It was a lot more intense than when just the rookies were here. I need a couple more practices I think, but I'll get a better feel for it.
"It was kind of overwhelming. A lot of stuff was going on, but I think a couple more practices and I'll start getting better and getting in tune to the situation."
In the days between the rookie minicamp held May 2-4 and this week's OTAs, Talib said he worked on preparing his body for the rigors of life at the NFL level.
"Mainly I was focused on just getting in shape, conditioning and lifting weights and getting in shape so when I come to this up-tempo practice I can keep up with the guys," Talib said.
Those hours spent getting prepared physically for the challenges he's facing as a first-year player have allowed Talib to focus now on the mental obstacles all rookies endure.
"[Today there] were a lot more plays, a lot more adjustment stuff," he said. "It was a lot more coverages, so you kind of had to go on the run. I was kind of picking it up as I went. But I think right now it's just mental. It's a lot of stuff going on real fast, so you've got to catch up. If you get it mentally, you've got a better chance of doing it physically. I think that's the most important thing right now."
In spite of the time he spent working out and studying his playbook, Talib still endured a few growing pains in his first day of OTAs. He laughed as he discussed how he felt more confident in some things than others.
"I felt a little better in shape, more in shape than last time," said Talib. "But as far as [knowing all] the plays, no. But I'm going to get the plays. Once we keep on doing it and I keep getting the same plays, the same looks, and going over the same stuff, I think I'll get a little better.
"By minicamp, I just want to be able to keep up with the guys – just know all the plays, know all the checks I need to make and just be able to keep up."
Although his first OTA alongside the Bucs veterans was a little shorter than originally intended, Talib said one other realization hit him like a lightning bolt – he's finally a pro.
"It's sunk in now," Talib said. "My locker is right next to Derrick Brooks', so I'm here now. I'm a Tampa Bay Buccaneer now."