Predicting the 53-man roster of your favorite team is a training camp tradition. But what if we took that a step further? How much do you really pay attention? In this preseason series, aptly named Bucs Anonymous, we have chosen three players to highlight throughout training camp – only you won’t know who they are. Each week, there will be more clues and hints as to their identities as they progress through camp. See if you can figure it out before all is revealed August 26.
For the first installment: an introduction. Let’s just call them Players A, B and C going forward and let’s start with some generic clues that pertain to all three:
-All three players had similar collegiate colors.
-Two of the players in fact, went to the same school and were college teammates.
-One player is a rookie.
Player A: This isn’t his first rodeo, but he’s done a few things differently heading into camp this year. He spent this last offseason training in Tampa for the first time. He said it was him and about five others that worked out in the Florida heat. See, Player A isn’t from Florida. He’s not even from the east coast and therefore, is used to a different type of heat. Although, the conditions he played in during college were a little more similar to what we have here in Tampa.
“This year is a little different,” said Player A. “I trained out here. We had a small little group, about five of us, that would train twice a day Monday through Saturday. It was a little different this year, but I feel a lot better and I feel like it’s showing at camp. I feel a lot better; a lot stronger, a lot faster. Being a little older, I can just relax more. When you’re young, you don’t know what’s going on so now I can just relax and do my thing.”
In evaluating what’s different about this year’s camp, Player A agreed camp seemed to be a little bit more physical, especially on his side of the ball. He attributes it to a system that fits the players well.
“I feel a lot better – especially in this system,” said Player A. “It fits me. It’s more of an attack defense and that’s how I like to play so I like it a lot. It’s a little different than what we been doing, we did a lot of zone stuff. We do a lot of zone stuff now but it’s a lot of blitzes so everybody gets a chance. Everybody has a chance at a piece of a blitz. Everybody. So that’s cool. You never know where it’s coming from.”
That should clue you in to a very key fact about Player A. You’re welcome. That’s enough for now.
View some of the top photos from Buccaneers Training Camp practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
Player B: He’s absolutely infectious as a person. He's always walking around the halls, smiling, saying hi. You feel like you know him from the first time you meet him. Except he's new. I mean, everyone is starting from square one with the new coaching staff and with it, two new systems on either side of the ball. It’s a good time to join the team. Also, Player B is on the same side of the ball as Player A but he was college teammates with Player C. Lost, yet? Here are some more clues.
See what Player B had to say about training camp so far:
“A big learning experience,” Player B said a week into camp. “It’s been a great learning opportunity for me. Really just trying to be a sponge. I’m listening to everything the vets have to say, asking questions to the veterans that’s been here five-plus years and just listen. I’m just trying to really not talk too much and absorb as much as I can.”
Player B isn’t taking any part of his experience for granted. While he doesn’t talk much in the building and tries to listen to his teammates, he does talk to fans – especially kids waiting for autographs after practice. Any time there is an autograph opportunity following practice, Player B is usually one of the last ones left signing autographs.
“That’s why those autographs after, those children, they have a soft spot in my heart,” Player B said. “I remember when I was a kid and I think sometimes when you get used to playing ball and you’re sweating and you’re hot, you’re tired, banged up, hurt, whatever it is, and you want to get home and eat and chill and relax because you have so little time to yourself, you forget that you used to be that kid also. Even if it’s just five seconds, it’s precious to them. I know it. I know that deep down and that’s something that truly moves me. Anytime I can take the chance to sit down with some of these kids, it’s obviously just a blessing. I think it blesses me more than it blesses them. It’s a humble reminder. It’s a very humbling reminder for me.”
Yep, Player B is somewhat of a softie… off the field.
Player C: This guy is one that sometimes goes overlooked – even in his own family. But he’s been making a little more noise in camp if you’ve been paying attention. He’s been working a lot on his own game and his coaches are starting to take notice. It helps that he’s in a system that he feels fits him and his skillset well.
“I feel like the playbook fits our personnel a lot better,” Player C said. “I’m able to do things within the playbook that highlight some of my different skills I bring.”
I asked Player C what the biggest thing he’s been working on individually has been so far this offseason.
“Probably my route-running,” Player C said. “My route running has definitely been able to kind of be a highlight this camp and my pass catching. Mainly in the receiving game.”
You may have gathered by now that Player C has been here before. He noted a bit of a difference in this year’s staff – especially when it comes to how physical the team practices.
“They’ve definitely made sure that we showed we’re a physical team,” said Player C. “[Coach] wants us to definitely be a physical team, whether that’s running the ball or in pass protection. We’re definitely showing physicality and it’s been real fun competition.”