-The boys are back in town for Phase I of the offseason program, which means strength and conditioning workouts and some limited classroom time. It's important to note that these are voluntary but also provide players with their first opportunity to get to know the new coaching staff. The building was busier, guys were joking around in the halls and perhaps most importantly, my beloved fruity pebble rice krispie treats made their return to the dining room. The overwhelming sentiment among the players was excitement and eagerness to get to work. They had been hearing about their coaching staff from afar but getting into classrooms and getting their first dose of the new schemes they'll be playing under for 2019 made the energy even more electric.
View photos from Phase One of Offseason Training.
-A few players got the chance to say as much when Mike Evans, Vernon Hargreaves and new linebacker Shaq Barrett took the podium on Monday in their first media availability of the new league year.
Evans had great things to say about the confidence he has in the receiver group going into this season, even with the loss of both DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries. He assured media members, and fans by proxy, that the Bucs would still have one of the best receiver corps in the league, especially with the addition of Breshad Perriman. That receiver corps also includes Bucs' tight ends, one of whom Evans worked out with last weekend at his alma mater. For two days Evans and O.J. Howard worked out at Texas A&M facilities with quarterback Jameis Winston, who was actually the architect of the training session. Winston remains close with his college coach Jimbo Fisher, who heads up A&M's program now and grants Winston access to his facilities for this exact reason. This is the second year Winston has held the extra workouts in College Station after Fisher got the job before the 2018 season. The trio worked out with former Bucs' receivers coach Skyler Fulton and weren't shy about sharing their time on social media, lucky for us.
Hargreaves talked about his health and excitement as he fits into a new role in Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles' system. Upon entering the league in 2016, Hargreaves was asked to play more off coverage and slide inside at nickel corner, a contrast to what he did in college at Florida. He has been given a vote of full confidence from his new head coach, Bruce Arians, along with assurances that they intend to use him as an outside press corner, which Hargreaves is comfortable in.
Dive even further into the sentiment made by Arians at league meetings in Arizona, before he ever spent any significant time with Hargreaves, and you'll find an overwhelming appreciation from the latter that his coach already has that confidence in him. It gives him 'extreme' confidence in himself and the rest of the secondary.
Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett, formerly in Denver, got his first chance to talk to the Tampa Bay media since being signed in free agency. He was used primarily as a depth player behind a guy named Von Miller but comes to the Bucs with a desire to prove himself as a starter. His experience in a 3-4 defense with the Broncos should translate well to what the Bucs' new system ends up being. Whether it is a true 3-4 or more of a hybrid remains to be seen. With defenses in their base packages less and less, it likely doesn't matter as much but just to have Barrett who has position flexibility is a big help to the Bucs.
For more on Barrett, click here.
-Late in the week, the Bucs signed a defensive tackle in Nick Thurman, who spent training camp with the Texans after playing collegiately at Houston. He comes as a late addition in free agency but prior to the draft, where the Bucs will add significantly more players between draftees and undrafted free agents. Each team can carry an inflated roster of 90 players into training camp. The Bucs currently have 72 players under contract.
-The NFL announced that 64 NFL Legends and active players will announce draft picks for their current or former teams in the second and third rounds. Second-round selections will be announced by a club's former first-round pick and the third-round selection will be made by players drafted in later rounds. For the Bucs, that means quarterback and current television analyst Trent Dilfer will make the Bucs' second round pick, while former fourth-round pick and Super Bowl XXXVII MVP Dexter Jackson will announce the Bucs' third-round pick.
-Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleader Auditions are underway and the first cuts were last weekend. All week, 49 finalists have been put through the paces in the hope of securing 32 roster spots. To determine who makes the squad, Bucs Cheer will be holding their Final Audition Showcase in the Buccaneers' indoor facility on Saturday. The showcase is open to the public and tickets are free. Click here to see dreams become reality and get your tickets.
View photos from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders auditions.