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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jamel Dean: A Day in the Life at Bucs Training Camp 

An-depth documentation inside a day in the life of Buccaneers starting cornerback Jamel Dean during 2023 training camp

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Each year, training camp serves as a reminder that a new NFL season is fast approaching. While optimism abounds for every club, it is a rigorous six-week period for coaches and players that ensues, building the foundation for a 18-week regular-season schedule. The long, extensive summer days in the searing Florida heat cultivate endurance as on-field practice sessions and classroom instruction blend to foster development. In a behind-the-scenes dive into a 'Day in the Life' at training camp, Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean is first on the series itinerary.

Many football enthusiasts know the concept of training camp from a theoretical standpoint, but few understand the grueling process it entails. This will serve as an embodiment of the old adage, "put yourself in another's shoes to understand them.' Well, in this case, cleats. From film breakdown and one-on-one mentorship to the intricacies of being an NFL cornerback in a pass-heavy league, here is a chronicled look at a typical day during training camp through the lens of Jamel Dean:

The Schedule

While the schedule varies from day to day for the Buccaneers, players tend to wake around 6:30 and eat breakfast before undergoing treatment if necessary. Team meetings fill the morning before the first practice of the day takes place. The initial practice is more extensive, with positional drills followed by 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team periods, with situational scenarios including red zone incorporated. Lunch is next where each of the players will have allocated meals in the cafeteria, followed by players hitting their designated lift period, specialized by assigned groups. Then, more meetings commence including team, special teams, offense/defense. Next, a 60-75 minute (depending on the day) walk-thru on the practice field, which summarizes the practice plan for the following day. Once that on-field work is done, evenings are filled with dinner, recovery and very limited free time before it is lights-out around 11 pm at the Bucs' team hotel near the AdventHealth Training Center. Then, rinse and repeat six days per week for a month-plus and you get an insightful look at the strenuous workload during camp. Eat. Sleep. Breathe. Football.

A typical daily rundown (practice time and duration change based on the day):

  • 6:00-8:15 AM: Breakfast Available
  • 6:30 AM: Training Room Open
  • 7:15-7:35 AM: Coaches Meeting
  • 7:45-8:05 AM: Team Meeting
  • 8:30-10:10 AM: Practice (10-minute warmup/90-minute practice)
  • 10:00 AM-1:45 PM: Lunch Available
  • 11:45-12:25: Lift (Specialized groups)
  • 12:40-1:20 PM: Lift (specialized groups)
  • 12:45-1:45 PM (Special Teams Meeting)
  • 1:45-1:50 PM: Team Meeting
  • 1:55-4:20 PM: Offense/Defense Meetings
  • 4:30-5:45 PM: Walk Thru
  • 5:15-6:45 PM: Dinner Available
  • 11:00 PM: Curfew

"First thing, I wake up around 6:30 a.m. and that is not guaranteeing that I am rolling out of bed at that time, depending on how sore I am," Dean laughed. "I may hit snooze one time and wake up around 6:45. Then, I get up before I doze off again. I use the bathroom and look in the mirror, make sure I don't have a tired face. I brush my teeth and then I clean my nose piercing. I have to make sure I take my water jug with me, too. I have to make sure I drink that gallon every day. I also started carrying a PVC pipe because of my hip. People think I am using it as a cane and they call me, 'Old Man.' So, I get here and go into the cafeteria and eat breakfast. I get oatmeal. Then, I get watermelon. I add a couple scoops of brown sugar, too. You have to, and then I add a splash of milk to my oatmeal.

"Then, we start off with team meeting and then after team meeting, we start warming up for practice, stretching, changing clothes, getting into the hot or cold tub – whatever you prefer. Personally, I don't do the cold tank. I don't do cold at all. Then we start practice. Once we go outside, we always check the flag. Once we see that the flag is not moving, then we know what type of day that it is going to be. So, after practice, we will do extra stuff, including technique that we need to work on that we are struggling with, and some players catch balls. Me, I work on my press technique and then afterwards, we have a little down period. That is when I go eat lunch with whatever they provide for us in the cafeteria. I have to watch my portion size because I have to be a certain weight. After I get done eating, I go upstairs into Coach Bowles' office, or "our office," because we both share it. Him and I, we will watch practice, he will teach me everything that I need to know – what I did wrong and what I did good – and then after that, we have a normal, casual either therapy session or a 'What is going on in the world' conversation. I like to hang out with Bowles. He is almost like another father figure to me, and we have been doing this since my rookie year, so I just got into a routine of going up there and aggravating him. Then, after that, we go to meetings and watch practice again. Then afterwards, we go to walk-thru and we go through what we will work on the next day at practice and that is about an hour and 15 minutes long. Then, we go home, or to the hotel."

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 16, 2022 - Cornerback Jamel Dean #35 and Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the NFC Wild Card game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers won the game, 31-15. Photo By Tori Richman/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Film Room/Learning Style

Jamel Dean became the Bucs' top-performing corner in 2022 and the No. 7 graded cornerback by Pro Football Focus following the season (top-rated free agent cornerback). Tampa Bay was able to attain his services despite a tight salary cap situation, signing him to a four-year contract extension, securing the standout defender.

TAMPA, FL - March 16, 2023 - Cornerback Jamel Dean #35 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signs his contract at AdventHealth Training Center. Photo By Tori Richman/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dean had another productive campaign last season and although he is grievously underrated across the NFL landscape, he has quickly developed into one of the NFL's most effective corners for the past several years. Dean allowed the fifth-fewest yards (386) as the nearest defender among all NFL cornerbacks (minimum 60 targets) in 2022, per Next Gen Stats. Of all cornerbacks who played at least 50 percent of snaps in 2022, Dean graded second among all corners. He came out second in tackling grade and missed tackle percentage (1.9). Throughout the entirety of the 2022 slate, Dean missed one tackle. One. Those are All-Pro-caliber metrics.

Since he entered the NFL in 2019, Dean has allowed the fewest yards per target (5.7) among all NFL defensive backs (minimum 150 targets). Last season, Dean started 15 regular season games, missing two with a toe injury. He accumulated 54 tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions and eight passes defensed. Dean crowds the catch space and has the size/speed profile that defensive coordinators salivate over. He dominates in press coverage with physicality at the line of scrimmage and is able to quickly transition and accelerate off his backpedal in off coverage to break on underneath routes. Dean is blessed with a gift few cornerbacks have: 4.3-level speed to stay with vertical threats. He trusts his speed enough to wait and see if the receiver breaks for a curl and then once they run past, Dean knows it is a deep shot. He then turns his hips and presses on the gas, hitting top speed from the trail position, closing the window of separation to prevent the big play over the top. The well-rounded athlete solidifies the Bucs secondary and sets the standard on the back end.

"I have always been a press-man corner so then my off technique, that is just something that I learned from being around Coach Bowles, so it is not the prettiest of technique, but it gets the job done," Dean grinned. "With press-man, it is something that I have always had. In high school, they always told me, 'You are fast so don't worry about anybody beating you over the top. Just be physical at the line, and you have what most corners don't, which is makeup speed.' So, if you do get beat, you can live for another down."

Dean is a hands-on, visual learner and in the self-initiated one-on-ones with Bowles, he has embraced criticism and mentorship. In the head coach's corner office, Dean, who is inquisitive in nature, soaks things up like a sponge. There, he has learned the nuances of how to react in certain situations on the field, responding to the receiver he is shadowing.

"It's rare to have a coach that actually sits down and teaches you the defense and then shows you why certain things should happen as evidence," Dean stated. "Most of the time, you will go to a coach, and he will tell you, 'We are doing this because I said so.' But with Todd Bowles, you know that he sits down and actually teaches you why you are doing it and it helps you play faster knowing the defense. Then, it becomes second-hand nature to you. He has helped me to see certain formations and to know what to expect out of them. It helps me play specifically for certain things and not play for certain things. As a result, I play faster. I see certain things and I anticipate them doing certain things, so now, I give myself a better chance of making a play knowing that if they run exactly what I am anticipating, then I can get the jump on it."

That tutelage has continued to pay dividends, with Saturday's practice serving as evidentiary support. Dean nabbed an interception off Baker Mayfield, undercutting a low pass intended for Ke'Shawn Vaughn in the flat. The instinctual play is also a byproduct of endless hours spent going through film and re-watching practice on the team-gifted iPad. Shortly after practice ends each day during training camp, the footage is placed on each player's iPad for evaluation to cultivate growth. On most days, Dean has his face buried in the handheld device in the cafeteria, immediately tracking the opposition's response to man vs. off technique.

TAMPA, FL - August 05, 2023 - Cornerback Jamel Dean #35 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during 2023 Training Camp practice at AdventHealth Training Center. Photo By Mike Carlson/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

"Each day, I look at the formations and see, 'Ok, he was here when he ran this route and then in this situation here, he ran this route and then he saw this corner press, and then this is what he did when he saw the corner playing off [technique]," Dean described. "So, I look at every aspect on how they are adjusting to the play."

Then during practice, Dean is able to discern off the release of the opponent - whether inside or outside – which routes he can eliminate. Then, Dean adapts to what he anticipates the receiver will do and how he will play the route. On the practice fields, Dean faces two of the top receivers in the NFL with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. Facing that upper echelon talent every day has not only expedited Dean's development but it has instilled confidence on Sundays. By facing the best daily, Dean does not fear the rest, and instead, relies on his unique skillset to achieve greatness on the gridiron.

"Going against Mike and Chris, it is always a challenge every day because they are some of the top receivers in the league. When you go against them, you get a feel for everything that they have in their toolbox, so you go through that during training camp and then when you get to the season, it's somewhat easier."


During training camp, players often conjure up new goals for themselves in the upcoming season following soul-searching and self-analysis. For Dean, his aspirations are less about being quantified on the stat sheet with individual accolades and are more aligned with being a role model. There was a time that playing in the NFL seemed like an elusive fantasy. Dean suffered three significant knee injuries that raised question marks on his ability to play post-rehab at the collegiate level, and then in the NFL. Through mental health transparency and his moral compass, Dean made a full recovery, cementing his selection by the Buccaneers in the 2019 NFL Draft (No. 94). Now, entering his fifth year in the NFL with a recently inked second contract with Tampa Bay, Dean is striving to become a walking inspiration to others and testament of resiliency through setbacks.

"I can see myself as an inspiration to the younger generation and the older generation. I prove that when times get hard, you have to fight because you may never know how close you are to your goals if you just give up when you experience the first obstacle. I had a couple knee surgeries, but I had a good support system and I realized, 'I did not come this far to give up,' so I am glad that I made that decision to keep fighting because now, I see that I got to be an NFL player and I got the chance to get a second contract and it is a big inspiration for a lot of kids. They have the power to think, 'Well this guy had three knee surgeries and he still accomplished all these goals. Why can't I do it?'"

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