Beau Allen School for Kids Who Can't Read Good
Otherwise known as a celebration of First Quarter for Literacy Week where Buccaneers defensive tackle Beau Allen visited East Park Preschool in St. Pete to read and give out books to students. Allen read Green Eggs and Ham and Beauty and the Beast to dozens of preschoolers after helping to donate over 4,500 books to Bay Area students. His initial donation was matched by the Chris Long Foundation, a former teammate of Allen's and this year's Walter Payton Man of the Year, whose literacy campaign initially got Allen involved. Allen's afternoon with the little ones marked one of four distribution visits happening across the country with NFL stars giving out over 27,600 books to local communities. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation Social Justice Fund also matched Allen's donation to help support youth empowerment, one of the key pillars of the social justice initiative.
The Bucs signed a Danish kicker in Phillip Andersen this week. No, he hasn't played in the NFL before, but Andersen was discovered by Bucs' scouts at a kicking camp put on by former Bucs' kicker Michael Husted. Each year, Husted holds a camp in Mobile, Ala. the same week of the Senior Bowl, when the entire NFL front office world takes over the small city that's extremely hard to get to where it always rains and was super cold, not that I was there and experienced it or anything. Cough.
It paid off for Andersen, who was noticed by the Bucs and then signed on Thursday. He last played for the Berlin Rebels in Germany. You can check out more about him by following the link here, if you know German.
He, of course, is far from winning the starting job, which he'll compete for in camp. But diamonds in the rough come from all over and it wouldn't be the first foreign player in the league. Halfway through last season, the Bucs themselves enlisted the help of Cairo Santos to right the kicking ship and he's from Brazil. The current Seahawk and former Oakland Raider Sebastian Janikowski is unsurprisingly from Poland, originally. The Raiders current kicker Giorgio Tavecchio is even more unsurprisingly from Italy, with a name like that. Even Graham Gano of the Carolina Panthers is a dual citizen of the U.S. and U.K.
We were talking tight ends this week on Buccaneers.com. Scott Smith had some burning questions for you about the position group, while I recapped Cameron Brate's season. His production as far as touchdowns go stayed consistent, though his yards did drop from 2017. It came out later that Brate ended up having to have surgery after the season on his hip. That should mean he bounces back better than ever next season. What was interesting to note about the research I ended up doing was just how effective he is in the red zone. Every one of his six touchdowns in 2018 came inside the 20. Nineteen of his 20 touchdowns since 2016 have also come inside the red zone, which gives him the highest total of any tight end in the league during that span. It probably has something to do with how physical he plays and his ability to grab contested catches. He routinely gets rocked, slicing in on a crossing route and right into the waiting shoulder of a defensive back – but not before he makes the catch. His quarterbacks trust both him and O.J. Howard, who was in his sophomore season in 2018. Had it not been for an ankle injury where Howard got rolled up on, he would have finished with a breakout year. He totaled five touchdowns before he went down in Week 11. Sad face.
I started a mini-series of Q&As with all four of our coordinators this week, starting with Assistant Head Coach and Run-Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin. Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong and Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles followed. Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich will be out today. In case you haven't had a chance to read them, here are some quick highlights of each. But if you have the time, I got a ton of good stories out of them and I think you'll rapidly get to know and like them just as much as I did.
- He initially wanted to be Charles Barkley and play basketball growing up – he 'only' grew to 6'3 though and instead, garnered a scholarship to the University of Michigan, where he played offensive line
- He first coached with Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh where he was the offensive line coach and BA was initially the wide receivers coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator
- He says that he takes a little bit of everyone he's worked alongside with him, from not only BA but Chuck Pagano and former Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith
- He really likes Bartaco, which former Bucs' quarterbacks coach and current Boston College Offensive Coordinator Mike Bajakian took him to when he was in Tampa during rookie minicamp last offseason
- He attended Ron Jaworski's football camp when he was a teenager in high school outside of Philadelphia
- He was a backup to both running backs coach Todd McNair and Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles at Temple at one point
- Lou Holtz essentially fired him while he was at Notre Dame so he'd have no choice but to take a job with June Jones and the Atlanta Falcons at just 27 years old
- He spent the last 11 years working for the Falcons… meaning he's all too familiar with the NFC South
- He grew up in the projects in Elizabeth, New Jersey not only playing football but baseball, too. He was a southpaw and ended up going to Temple with the intention of playing both
- He's extremely close with former Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams. The two won Super Bowl XXII as members of the Washington Redskins and Williams gave Bowles his first coaching job – the two still talk weekly
- He credits Bill Parcells, Tony Dungy, Marvin Lewis and Jeff Fisher as mentors
- He's really big into all kinds of music, called out Gladys Knight, Jay-Z, The Eagles, LL Cool J and Outkast as some of his favorites
Byron Leftwich (coming soon):
- He won Super Bowl XLIII while backing up quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers here in Raymond James Stadium when Tampa Bay hosted the Super Bowl between the Steelers and Arizona Cardinals
- He once dropped 69 points in an AAU game as a 16-year-old
- He and his brother would sneak into Washington Redskins games as kids and he remembers watching Joe Theisman as his earliest inspiration to be a quarterback
- He's featured in a documentary called We Are Marshall about his alma mater where he once played a game on an entirely broken leg – that story is worth reading in its entirety