Tampa Bay Buccaneers

JPP Sets the Tone for Buccaneers at Titans Camp

Head Coach Dirk Koetter says veteran DE Jason Pierre-Paul has been a "pleasant surprise" with his intensity and leadership in Bucs camp, and that showed up Wednesday in Tennessee, too.

Jason Pierre-Paul has 58.5 career sacks, an All-Pro award, two trips to the Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl Championship ring, and none of that came with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pierre-Paul has yet to play in his first regular-season game with a Buccaneer, and so he has to prove his new team was right when it traded a third-round pick to the Giants in the belief that it was getting a game-changer still in his prime.

The Tennessee Titans might have been surprised at how relentless of a performer Pierre-Paul still appears to be as he heads towards his ninth NFL season and his 30th birthday. When the Buccaneers and Titans gathered for a joint practice on Wednesday at Tennessee's training camp site, Pierre-Paul proved to be one of the visitors most impactful players. (On offense, that description fit wide receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.)

The Bucs' new pass-rusher had one particularly impressive rep in O-Line/D-Line one-on-ones against Tennessee's very good left tackle, Taylor Lewan.

Later, in the final 11-on-11 drill of the two-hour practice, Pierre-Paul was credited with a "sack" on Marcus Mariota for a quick rush that caused the visiting NFL official to blow the play dead. Pierre-Paul was noticeably fired up after the play, as if he had brought with him the intensity of an actual game day.

If the Titans' blockers were surprised by Pierre-Paul's intensity, it's because they didn't have the vantage point that Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter has enjoyed over the past two weeks of practice in Tampa.

"Yeah, [he's a] very pleasant surprise," said Koetter. "I guess wasn't expecting JPP to be the practice player and the leader that he's been so far. I'm really fired up about it. Sometimes a guy that's got his pedigree comes in and is looking for ways out of drills, and that's not him at all."

Pierre-Paul's impact on the rest of the team was evident enough on Wednesday that Koetter chose the veteran end to "take the team out" with a speech to break the final huddle. As Pierre-Paul's voice rose and his words became more passionate, Koetter walked away from the huddle with a smile on his face. Pierre-Paul's teammates appreciated his leadership on Wednesday, too.

"Especially him being in Tampa where he grew up is really important to him," said quarterback Jameis Winston. "You can tell that he really loves football and being a great veteran guy, we look up to guys like that and we love his tenacity and enthusiasm, bringing it from the Giants."

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