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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bruce Arians on T.J. Logan: Learn His Name Quick

T.J. Logan got the Bucs' kickoff return job when he walked in the door, and his past and current head coach thinks he's going to make an impact quickly.

Running Back T.J. Logan (Ryan Kang via AP)
Running Back T.J. Logan (Ryan Kang via AP)

Second-year running back T.J. Logan made it through the NFL's deep round of roster cuts last Saturday and was still on the team when the Arizona Cardinals formed their first 53-man roster of 2019. However, the Cardinals were in possession of the first spot in the waiver-claim order and did a heavy round of shopping from the wire on Sunday, picking up five players who had been cut around the league.

That meant Arizona also had a second wave of cuts on Sunday, which is when Logan got some unhappy news. However, Logan's disappointment was Bruce Arians' satisfaction, and that soon worked out for both of them. Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made sure Logan wasn't out of work for long, putting in a successful waiver claim that brought him to Tampa. Logan was as happy to learn of that move as Arians was to see the Cardinals' transaction the day before.

"[I was] really excited," said Logan. "He texted me early in the morning. It was a no-brainer for me. He knew exactly what he wanted when he drafted me, so I'm just trying to come out here and play within the game."

Arians was the Arizona head coach in 2017 when the team drafted Logan in the fifth round. He had been hoping that the Cardinals' roster churning after a 3-13 season might shake Logan loose and lead to a reunion. It took one extra day, but that's exactly what happened and the Bucs' happily pounced.

"[He's] a guy I loved when I drafted him – 4.3 speed at running back, great kick returner, punt returner," said Arians. "[He] dislocated his wrist in the Hall of Fame game and we lost him. We had high hopes for him and kind of had been hoping that might happen. I was hearing he was having a great camp, so I didn't think it would happen, but he gives us a pass receiving speed back and a kick returner."

Logan was having a great camp as a rookie, too, before the injury Arians noted, and he got off to a fast start in the one game he got to play in front of his former head coach. Logan only got in 18 snaps on offense and 10 on special teams before the aforementioned wrist injury, but he produced four runs for 24 yards, two kickoff returns for 71 yards and one punt return for 10 yards. It's no wonder Arians felt like he had unfinished business with Logan.

"I was a fifth-round pick [but] he trusted me out there," said the former North Carolina standout. "He allowed me to make plays and I just tried to do my best at that.

That business will pick back up immediately. Like a good kickoff return right after he has caught the ball, Arians didn't hesitate to declare that job to be Logan's now that he's a Buccaneer.

"He will be [returning kickoffs]," said the coach. "Guys need to learn his name real quick."

Speed is obviously Logan's calling card, and when he got a chance to return kickoffs last year after spending that first season on injured reserve he used it to good effect, averaging 24.7 yards on a dozen runbacks. Tampa Bay has been looking for a spark in that part of the game for years; over the past three seasons, the Bucs have averaged just 19.0 yards per kickoff return, second-worst in the NFL in that span. Logan is excited by the opportunity to change that, and he's prepared for immediate work on Sunday.

"Oh yeah, I'm ready," he said on Tuesday after his first Buccaneer practice. "I'm for sure ready. There's going to be no hesitation. I've been playing football my whole life so there's really not going to be too much to it. Just get out there and play hard."

While Logan's role will probably be limited to that one job on Sunday and perhaps for a few weeks, he could expand it over the course of the season. He's got a residual familiarity with Arians' offense and he spent this past training camp in Arizona rounding out his work on special teams, fielding punts in addition to kickoffs and working as a gunner in punt coverage.

"Yeah, definitely I could [return punts]," said Logan. "It's just going to take a lot of reps. I have a lot of time, so I feel like I'm just going to go out there and do my best.

"On the offensive side I feel like it won't be that hard because I ran a lot of his stuff. But I learned a whole new playbook with Coach [Kliff] Kingsbury, so it's going to take time. I was kind of watching today, just trying to get in there and hear some calls, hear some things. A lot of it sounds familiar so I'm just trying to learn real quick."


The countdown to season kickoff is on! The Bucs are kicking off the NFL's 100th season with a FREE Tim McGraw pregame concert for all fans with a ticket to the home opener on Sept. 8! Get your tickets today.

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