-The Buccaneers wrapped up training camp practice as we know it on Tuesday. Head Coach Bruce Arians was asked some evaluation questions as a result. He took to Zoom along with tight end Rob Gronkowski, Offensive Line Coach Joe Gilbert and right guard Alex Cappa.
The former has had to get acclimated not only to playing in the NFL after sitting out the 2019 season, but also to the Florida heat.
"Yeah. That 16-play drive, he wasn't ready for that one – neither were a lot of guys," Arians chuckled. "He said, 'I was only supposed to get 15 plays [and] I got 16 in a row.' I said, 'Well, you're going to get about 10 more, so suck it up.' He's fun to be around and he's done a good job."
Arians and the coaches aren't the only ones who are having fun being around Gronkowski. His teammates have all said he's a great guy to be around, with tight end Cam Brate calling him a 'joy' while saying his love for the game is infectious. At the end of the day, Gronkowski said it's his relationships with his teammates that are his number one priority.
"What I want to accomplish until the game [in New Orleans Week One] is gaining the trust of my teammates [and] gaining the respect of my teammates, so when I go out there on the field, the guy next to me trusts me and I can go out there on the field and trust the guy next to me, too," said Gronkowski. "That's what it's all about in practice – gaining the trust of each other so when you go out there, you can perform as a team, perform as a player and do what I need to do. Go out there and do my job at a fast pace without thinking and just play the game of football without thinking about it. That's what it's all about – that's what you need to accomplish in practice. In order to go out there and play the game fast and physical and not be thinking [with] fast movements, you have to learn how to do that in practice. You have to learn all the plays, you have to learn your teammates, you have to learn where you are situated, you have to learn where other players are situated, where the ball is going to be, where the defender is going to be – that's all in practice. That's what it's all about. So, just gaining the trust of my teammates and showing that I can go out there and consistently do what I need to do so I can go out there and do what I need to do on gameday. That's what it's all about right now in training camp and preparing."
Teammates of Gronkowski's that he's had to get to know more than just his room have been the offensive line. As good of a blocker as he is, Gronkowski will be working as an extension of them, after all. We were able to talk to Gilbert about his unit on Tuesday and he had a great assessment of third-year player Alex Cappa.
"I think, number one, Cap did a great job physically in the offseason of changing his body [and] getting stronger," said Gilbert of the right guard. "You can see that, and I think the guys he's going against see that. The second thing, I think his confidence level has improved so much from last year of just playing. I think Cap was realistic with himself in the sense of what he had to do in the offseason from a strength standpoint. Now, having the knowledge of playing a season and coming in with his confidence, now he can really focus on playing with his technique and getting better at that. I think that's where he has improved. When you look at him from that standpoint, now he can play faster, he can play with more technique because he's not worried about the assignments and all that. That's when guys play a little slow. They're tentative, they're still making sure, 'Hey, am I doing this right?' Now, he's just playing and now we can focus in on his technique, get better with his hands, his feet – all those things. I think that's why we've seen such an improvement through camp with him."
Whether or not Gilbert has shared that praise with Cappa, we don't know. But Cappa himself feels much more confident going into this season with some starting experience under his belt.
"I don't know if [the game] slows down as much as you see things better," said Cappa of the differences going into this season. "Nothing can really replicate playing in a game, so that's where you get the real experience. Obviously, [in] practice you replicate it the best you can, but really playing in a game helps you build confidence a lot."