LSU LB Kenneth Hollis is one of the players participating in this weekend's camp on tryout contracts
These hallways may belong to Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber, Mike Alstott and John Wade, but this weekend the rookies will have the run of the place.
From Friday through Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hold their first mini-camp of 2006, but veterans like Alstott and Brooks aren't invited. This is a camp for rookies and first-year players only – mostly the former – which means the Bucs' newly-assembled draft class will get its first look at the team's offensive and defensive playbooks.
Of course, even with the four undrafted free agents signed during the week and a handful of first-year men on the roster, the team would have a hard time running a useful camp with just its new draft class. The Bucs believe first and second-round picks Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood will be good offensive linemen, but they can't fill all five spots by themselves.
Fortunately, the depth chart will be fleshed out by about 30 young men in town for the weekend on tryout contracts. None of these players are guaranteed a spot on the roster after the weekend is over, but they are guaranteed a very real chance to prove they belong.
Last year, the Buccaneers brought in 20 players to participate in the mini-camp on tryout contracts. Immediately after the camp, the team signed four of them to the roster – cornerbacks Carlos Campbell and James Patrick, guard Kevin Fischer and running back Derek Watson. Over the next four weeks, the team also signed quarterback Jared Allen, running back Jacque Lewis and linebacker Rich Glover off that tryout list.
Glover and Campbell were subsequently released, but the other five players went to training camp with the team. During camp, the team also signed another tryout player from that mini-camp, fullback Steve Kriewald, when injuries hit that position hard.
Moreover, four of those players – Allen, Lewis, Patrick and Watson – are still on the roster and appear headed to another Buccaneer training camp. Allen and Lewis are currently competing in NFL Europe, and the team thinks highly of Patrick and Watson, the latter of whom spent the second half of last season on the active roster.
This year's list of players in for tryouts includes North Carolina State quarterback Jay Davis, South Carolina running back Daccus Turman, USC wide receiver Jason Mitchell and a pair of defensive ends from down the street at South Florida, Tim Jones and Terrence Royal. Here is the complete list of tryout players for the weekend's rookie camp:
|North Carolina State
|Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
|North Dakota State
Patrick is among the first-year players already on the Bucs' roster who will be in attendance this weekend. The others include wide receiver Larry Brackins, safety Steve Cargile, guard Jonathan Clinkscale, fullback Robert Douglas, safety Dwight Ellick, tackle Sam Lightbody, wide receiver Derek McCoy, defensive tackle Lynn McGruder, guard Stefan Rodgers and wide receiver Terrence Stubbs.
The four undrafted rookies signed since the end of the draft are West Virginia safety Jahmile Addae, South Florida running back Andre Hall, Texas A&M tight end/long-snapper Boone Stutz and Oregon linebacker Anthony Trucks.
Of course, the headliners will still be those members of the 2006 draft class, as they see their first official action as a professional. Last year, Auburn running back Cadillac Williams made an immediate impression in his first Buccaneer camp and rode that momentum into camp, a 1,000-yard NFL debut and the eventual Rookie of the Year award. This year's newcomers, from Joseph and Trueblood to tight ends T.J. Williams and Tim Massaquoi, will be looking to prove that they can assimilate the Bucs' schemes quickly and make an instant impact as a rookie.
All told, the Bucs will have more than 50 players on the practice field this weekend. Veterans are prohibited from participating. The Bucs are allowed just one full-time, mandatory mini-camp during the offseason, which they will hold from June 20-22.
The rookies actually arrived on Thursday evening, flying or driving in from all points around the nation. They convened for a meeting with team officials and a round of physicals in the early evening before spending a few hours getting into the playbooks with the assistant coaches.
The camp will consist of just one practice each day, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday and 10:00-11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday. The practices, which will be held at One Buccaneer Place, are not open to the public.