G Davin Joseph knows he'll be doing a lot of his blocking on the run this season
When he reported for work at the beginning of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offseason program in March, Davin Joseph realized one thing right away: He was going to have to spend a lot of time in the weight room and on the treadmill.
To be effective in the team's new zone-blocking running attack, it was clear, he was going to have to be in fantastic shape.
Not that Joseph has had any problem with fitness, mind you. He has 313 pounds on his 6-3 frame, but it's well distributed, much of it in his barrel chest. He's a former Florida high school heavyweight wrestling champion, so his has always functional size. And the heat and humidity under which the Buccaneers train prior to each season has a way of weeding out anybody who's lacking in conditioning.
Still, it would be foolish for the linemen – or any player trying to carve out a role in Jeff Jagodzinski's offense – to ignore the changing of circumstances. Guard Jeremy Zuttah, for instance, purposely lost about eight pounds (while adding strength in the weight room) in the hopes that he could maintain peak mobility through five months of football.
Joseph could have rested on his achievements, as he's coming off a 2008 Pro Bowl campaign that was the first all-star nod for a Buccaneer offensive lineman in eight years. Instead, he got a look at the demands of the right guard position in Jagodzinski's attack and redoubled his already impressive workload.
"It was either get with it or get gone," laughed Joseph.
The 23rd overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Joseph has looked like a potential Pro Bowler since his earliest days with the team. He has been a starter since Day One (though his own Day One as a rookie was delayed several weeks by a knee injury) and one of the cornerstones on which the Bucs have made a very concerted effort to build a dominant front line. He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year after one of the original selections dropped out; though additional all-star selections aren't really high on his list of goals, he does want to play at such a level year after year.
In other words, the Pro Bowl honor was nice, but it won't mean much to Joseph if it proves to be the peak of his career.
"Consistency is the main thing," he said. "A lot of players go from good to great, but when you hit that next step a lot of guys start to lag. Consistency is concentration, determination and having an attitude when you come to work every day, and really enjoying what you do. I have all of those things in my favor so hopefully everything can pan out."
As Head Coach Raheem Morris has pointed out, it's difficult to know how well the Bucs' new running schemes are panning out in May or June, months away from when the pads go on. It is probably just as hard for an O-Lineman to judge his own progress when he's not allowed to hit the guy across from him or, increasingly in this offense, to pick out the right target while on the move and blast him. There isn't much of the instant gratification that a blocker gets on game Sundays.
But Joseph knows these days – in the weight room adding stamina and on the practice field stepping through the paces – are critical for that eventual gratification.
"Nothing's ever changed for me," he said. "You prepare during the week and you go through the tough times so you can win later. It's just the same goals, the same thing every year. The goal is to win as many games as you can and hopefully get a championship ring on your finger. Then after that, you've got to defend it."
The Buccaneers have now spent 11 of the 14 organized team activity (OTA) days they were allotted by the NFL for the offseason. The final three will be burned next week as the team enters the home stretch before their final pre-camp break.
The schedule next week duplicates the one the team has used the last three weeks: Two-hour late-morning practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Buccaneers.com will cover each day with written and video updates. On Thursday, Head Coach Raheem Morris will speak to the press to wrap up the week.
The end of OTAs will take the Buccaneers right up to their one full-team mandatory mini-camp of the offseason. The team held one weekend camp at the end of March, but it was voluntary (though very well-attended) and before the arrival of the rookies. The post-draft camp was open only to rookies and first-year players. The newcomers and vets have mixed together over the last three weeks, but the offseason-ending mini-camp will be the first mandatory session that includes the entire roster.
The Buccaneers' mandatory mini-camp, which concludes a 14-week offseason program, will be held Tuesday-Thursday, June 16-18. Players and coaches will then have the next six weeks to recharge before the start of training camp.
Coach Morris On…
After practice on Thursday, Morris fielded questions regarding the progress of a variety of players. Here is a sampling of his thoughts:
On Angelo Crowell: "Any time you're talking about a guy with a knee [injury], you're talking about a slow development. He's starting to pick it up, he's starting to get it. Nothing mentally – he's a sharp cat, now. But when you're talking about him getting confidence, him starting to run, him starting to feel it, I think it's coming. I think it started to come yesterday. Todd Toriscelli does a great job with those guys, with evaluations, getting them down, sitting with them, looking at the tape, going through the rehab, going out here and practicing and knowing what they're doing. It's been great."
On Clifton Smith: "Clifton's coming off a great season, a Pro Bowl season, and now he's starting to get into the mix of running back. We want to use him more on offense, we want to do some positive things with him, and now he's over there just having a ball. I like to give Clifton some stuff a little bit because he is undersized but he's tough. His heart is as big as anybody's. I'm loving it."
On Dexter Jackson: "I don't really know if it's about the progression that I want to see him progress at. Dexter's got to progress at his own pace. Like I told you guys last week, he's starting to show signs. He did some good things. We're really not going to know about Dexter until we get to the pads, until we get to the field, until we get there across the street in that stadium and helmets are on and chinstraps are buttoned. We'll see what Dexter is. But right now what he's doing, I can't complain about one thing he's done."
On Roy Miller: "What Roy Miller's done, he's come here, he kind of got tweaked, he's fought through it. So you can see him fight through an injury already – a little one, but an injury. You've seen the toughness in the kid and you've seen him develop character. What he's done this week is go out there and practice hard. He's driving the bus from the bottom up, which we always talk about around here. We've been talking about it for years in the DB room and now you're seeing it start to progress to the rest of the team. I see some of these young guys who I barely know their names working hard and playing hard. That's what you love."