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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Heat Is On at Bucs Minicamp

Between temperatures rising to a 'feels-like' peak of nearly 100 and Tom Brady returning to put on some heat of his own, the Buccaneers felt an increase in intensity at the start of minicamp on Tuesday

Ryan Jensen described it as "toasty." Some of his teammates probably would have chosen stronger words.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, making it the first time this offseason that (almost) the entire 90-man roster was on the field together. To celebrate the get-together, Mother Nature turned up the dial on her toaster and gave the Buccaneers a little taste of what training camp is going to be like in August. Tampa temperatures reached into the low 90s on Tuesday, and the Bay area's signature humidity made it a "feels-like" temperature that tickled triple digits.

Jensen, the veteran center who has experienced plenty of toasty days since joining the Buccaneers in 2018, really didn't mind. In fact, as he spoke to the press after practice he explained that he wanted to re-sign with the Buccaneers this spring in part because of the climate, spreading his arm out toward the scenery on the practice fields and beyond. Of course, Jensen had had a few minutes to cool down by this point and was able to look back on the two-hour grind as a good thing.

"I think today was a good day to really see how in shape guys are," he said. "You get to feel that heat press down on you a little bit. It felt like a really fast-paced practice today. The energy was good. We definitely wore some guys out, but that's good. It shows where we're at from a physicality standpoint, so the heat is good."

There were in excess of 80 players on the Bucs' three practice fields Tuesday. Rookie running back Rachaad White was excused for a personal matter but Head Coach Todd Bowles said White would rejoin the team on Wednesday. A handful of others, such as Lavonte David and rookie tight end Cade Otton, were in attendance but not taking part as they recovered from minor injuries. The heat took more of a toll on some of those who did participate than others, which will be a valuable lesson for those who may need to work a bit harder on conditioning before the arrival of training camp.

"I don't think anybody is where they need to be right now," said Bowles. "It's Training Camp where you need to be where you've got to be. So right now, there are guys that are in shape that could afford to lose a few pounds and there's guys out of shape that are really under-weight. So, we're trying to take care of that right now [and] we'll worry about it in Training Camp."

This week's minicamp, the only mandatory part of the offseason program for veterans, will bring an end to that program and players will be on their own for about seven weeks before the start of training camp. This part of the year is for laying the foundation so that when training camp does arrive the players will be in position to begin competing for jobs. Those competitions become harder when a player is also battling the heat. Fatigue sets in quicker, which can affect a player's performance both physically and mentally. Bowles hammered that second part in particular to start this week.

"Today he was just big on playing fast and playing smart," said Jensen. "The message has always been to play smarter. Playing gritty and playing tough is part of the game, but also playing smarter. That's one of the things that has been preached."

Overall, Bowles was pleased with the team's efforts on Tuesday.

"The effort was there," he said. "The effort was there, and guys were enthusiastic about it. We got some things done fundamentally, but we still have a long way to go.

"Physically, they were fine. Mentally, they understood everything. Just seeing it and getting back into the flow of things is what they've got to get used to. But for the most part, they were good."

There was another factor besides the weather adding intensity to the Buccaneers' work on Tuesday: Tom Brady. The Buccaneers' quarterback had not taken part in OTA practices but was back in the action and in midseason form, motivationally-speaking, on Tuesday.

"Besides Tom as the player – Tom as the leader, that's what he does," said Jensen. "He expects perfection at all times and it's day one of minicamp. He hasn't been here, but when he comes back that expectation has never changed. It was good. It really made practice feel a little bit more competitive today and the pace was unreal. It was a fast pace today."

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