-The Buccaneers welcomed a new face to the team in veteran cornerback Richard Sherman on Wednesday. Immediately after signing his one-year deal, Sherman was out – in full pads – on the fields of AdventHealth Training Center for his first practice with the team.
"Having gone against 'Sherm' it's really odd to see him on our team," Head Coach Bruce Arians chuckled on Wednesday following practice. "We've battled many, many times over the years. But yeah, we're really glad to have him and obviously he's got a lot to learn and get into football speed right now. It's a really good addition."
Sherman brings a veteran presence after 10 years in the league to a still very young secondary where the next oldest starter is just 24 years old. But that isn't all you'll get from the five-time Pro Bowler.
"I think I bring a level of leadership and accountability," said Sherman. "I think I bring a high level of play. I think sometimes from the outside looking in people think, he's this old and that changes the way you play, but it really doesn't. My standard of play is just higher. The standards that people hold me to are just higher. I'm not allowed to have bad games. I'm not allowed to give up catches without getting killed. I think the accountability part, I'll bring that, and hopefully I'll earn the respect of my teammates."
It seems like he may have already, too. Safety Jordan Whitehead said that as much as Sherman was learning, he started 'from walk-through' giving the rest of the secondary some tips and pointers.
"We haven't had this, so we're all new to it," Whitehead said about adding a veteran player to their rooms. "The first day you never know what to expect. He came in and we told him we're all young, we kind of need that leader. He came in today and he started giving us a lot of tips, talking ball with us. He fits right in like he's been here for a while."
But Sherman hasn't actually been here a while – so you'll forgive him if he doesn't know the playbook after a day. That brings into question what a realistic timeframe is before we see him on the field in a Bucs' uniform.
"It's anybody's guess I need at least a week of practice to really hone things in and to play at the level I'm capable of," said Sherman. "I think it'd be foolish to expect me to come out this week and play at a super high level. If I did, it'd be another thing to chalk up as a cool thing I did, but I think the expectation is for me to train and to get in shape and to give me opportunity for the following game."
"Obviously, it's up to the staff," he continued. "And I don't think they would. I mean, I literally was learning to plays on the field today. So, it's going to take a second. I catch on really fast but it's still gonna take a second to get through the playbook and really feel comfortable."
"There'd be a bunch of guys hurt if he's out there this week, but we'll wait and see," said Bruce Arians.
-Sherman didn't know many of the young players he's now with in the secondary but one player he has had a relationship is Brady, who was his first call – before even the organization talked to Sherman about potentially joining the team. Brady reached out, according to Sherman, just to check in and say that there may be an offer coming his way because the two have a good relationship off the field, no matter how contentious it's been at times on it.
You, of course, remember the "You mad, bro?" moment after Sherman's Seahawks bested Brady's Patriots during the 2012 season. There were t-shirts made and everything – not that Brady would be caught donning one. What he does have, though, is a jersey of Sherman's after the two swapped a few years ago and this story is worth reading.
"We exchanged jerseys maybe 4-5 years ago and he said, 'I'm still mad, bro.' He wrote it on the jersey," Sherman smiles. "He's a great sport about everything. He's just a competitor. We are a lot of the same spirit in that regard. Anything that it takes to win – [we are] obsessed about this game. A lot of what Kobe Bryant stood for – the late great. You can appreciate that about each other. That's what kind of attracted me to come because I know that he's the same kind of animal I am. For better or for worse – you'll do whatever it takes to get these wins and to find a way to get your team where they need to be."
-Now, Sherman could be part of a Bucs' brigade that looks to have Brady's (and tight end Rob Gronkowski's) backs as they look to get a win over their old team in their old stomping grounds of Foxboro, Mass. There's the added bonus of righting the ship after the team's first loss last Sunday.
"We lost (against the Rams last Sunday), so we definitely want to bounce back – that's a key focus of ours," said wide receiver Mike Evans. "We obviously want to play our best. It's going to be a great atmosphere, hopefully, Tom and 'Gronk' get the praise that they deserve. Tom won six titles there, Gronk three. It's just going to be a fun game."
"Knowing that Tom and Gronk have a little chip on their shoulder it gives everybody an edge," added Whitehead. "We're teammates, we're brothers you're going to give everything you have for them."
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