Phase I is wrapping up for the Bucs, with Phase II of the offseason program starting on Monday. There’s life around AdventHealth Training Center as a result and the team made some moves this week. They also got their first glimpse at the 2019 season with their four preseason opponents announced on Tuesday. The regular season schedule, much like Winter in Game of Thrones, is coming. But for now, let’s recap what we know as of this week.
-The NFL announced a rough version of its preseason schedule on Tuesday for all 32 clubs. The Buccaneers now have an idea how they’ll prepare for the regular season. The dates and times have yet to be finalized but the four-game preseason schedule set up Tampa Bay for a familiar preseason rival in the Dolphins but also has them facing off against the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time ever in the preseason. It’s also just the second time they’ll play Dallas before the regular season as well. The Bucs played both teams in 2018 during the regular season, suffering narrow losses in both contests.
For the games you’ll get to see inside Raymond James Stadium, you’ll see the new-look Dolphins and a visit from former Bucs’ backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick along with whatever other quarterback they presumably end up with in the draft. You’ll also get to see the now-star-studded Cleveland Browns come to town with the likes of Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry and of course, Odell Beckham Jr.
-The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders have assembled their 2019 team, which includes the first male cheerleader in franchise history. The 32-person squad was decided during the final audition showcase last Saturday, which was open to the public. It comes after the first male cheerleaders performed in a Super Bowl during Super Bowl LIII as two male cheerleaders took the field with the Los Angeles Rams. The Buccaneers are now the fifth team in the league to include a male cheerleader. It continues the culture of diversity and inclusion Tampa Bay strives for, also making history this season with the hiring of two full-time female coaches.
-Speaking of the coaching staff, the Buccaneers added Larry Rose to the staff as an officiating consultant. Rose will aid the coaching staff in the deciphering and interpretation of NFL rules and help in instant replay scenarios, which were just recently expanded this offseason to include all pass interference calls and non-calls. He will also provide assistance on the sideline during practices. Rose spent 17 years as a side judge in the NFL and has 44 years of overall officiating experience under his belt.
If this is the first time you’re hearing of such a position, you’re probably not alone. It’s not very common but seems to make a lot of sense. NFL rules change each offseason, usually not drastically but the nuances can be lost in strategy. Rose will help combat that and hopefully help the Bucs be one of the most disciplined teams in the league this season.
-The Buccaneers also signed their first player who was previously on an AAF roster in safety Orion Stewart. He had most recently played for the San Antonio Commanders before the league folded. He also comes with the novelty of recording the first interception in AAF history during the Commanders’ first game against the San Diego Fleet. Before the AAF, Stewart spent time with the Giants, Redskins and Bills. He was first signed to an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent in Denver with the Broncos in 2017.
-Neither here nor there: Bucs’ defensive end Carl Nassib got Instagram this week and it’s his birthday today – throw the birthday boy a follow if you want @carlnassib.