Martin Gramatica may be the smallest player on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster (though Jacquez Green gives him a run for his money), but he's getting bigger.
As an added part of his offseason conditioning this year, Gramatica took an active part in the team's weight training program, with the goal of increasing his overall strength. The idea has paid off in Gramatica's opinion – and his increased length on kickoffs is evidence he's right – and he's actually on pace to top the stellar numbers from his rookie campaign last year.
On Thursday, Gramatica was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October, as reported earlier on Buccaneers.com. Gramatica was caught in the Bucs' locker room near 1:00 p.m., just after he learned of the honor. Here was Gramatica's reaction:
On receiving the award: "It's real nice. I didn't really expect it. It caught me by surprise."
On whether he has changed his approach since training camp: "I really didn't change a thing. I guess I could say I'm getting luckier now and they're going in."
On whether he was pressing earlier in the year: "I think I was pressing just to get out of this slump. I really don't like talking about it. It's behind me, it's over. I just try to focus on the future."
On his outstanding game against Atlanta last season: "Yeah, but see, that's last year. You can't say, 'Well, he played good against them last year so he'll do well this year. I just have to prepare like every game. It doesn't matter what you did last year, really."
On whether his NFL career has lived up to his hopes so far: "It's been more. It's been a lot more. I just wanted to make it, and then when I made it to make the best of it. But I really never expected to be on such a good team. It's just outstanding and a lot more than I expected."
On how his offseason weight training helped him: "It's just having your whole body in shape. I think I was in good shape last year, but it was more soccer shape. I ran a lot, but I really didn't lift weights as hard as I did this year. I just feel stronger. My whole body just feels a lot more fit. I can still go out there and run as much as I did last year, it's just that I feel better, physical, as far as the weights. That's helped a lot. I can tell on the kickoffs. I don't have to try as hard. Last year, to get it deep, I had to give it all I had. Now I can just relax and let my leg swing. Sometimes when you try to kick it too hard is when you screw up."
On his preparations for long kicks: "I don't go out in practice and go 60, 65 yards to see if I can do it. Actually, I do the longest I can each week in pregame – that way I can tell coach how far I can go. I don't really go out here (and do that), because you can get hurt trying to kick too many long ones."