Aqib Talib, Bucs rookies to get eyeful this week
This will be an interesting week for the Bucs' 2008 draft picks.
Each of the team's selections will return to Tampa Bay after sitting out last week's OTA offseason sessions because of an NFL rule that limits them to one mini-camp before the end of their school's current academic session, even for those who are no longer enrolled.
So, with all the rookies' respective schools now done for the summer, they can begin practicing. The last time they were here, it was for the rookie minicamp that included mostly players who won't make a roster this fall. When they line up with the full squad on Tuesday, it'll be a whole different experience.
First-round pick Aqib Talib (left) will get his first taste of playing against the big boys, as will Dexter Jackson and the rest of the draft class. We'll also get a chance to see how much of their playbooks they learned in the two weeks since they left. I recall quarterback Josh Johnson saying he was going back to San Diego with his playbook and planned to run as many plays as possible with his school's receivers.
It will probably be a very humbling day for the rookies, who will be shown no mercy either by coaches or veterans. Remember how hard coaches and the vets were on Gaines Adams at this time last year?
As for the rule that keeps rookies away for awhile, the Bucs were lucky since their rookies missed only two days of work last week. But other players on other teams might fall into a situation where their schools operate on funky academic calendars, meaning they can miss some valuable time on the field in the coming weeks.
To be honest, the rule is more or less a joke when you consider the overwhelming majority of players drafted have no intention of even setting foot back on campus after the draft (Maurice Stovall was a rare exception in 2006 when he graduated from Notre Dame a few weeks after draft day). I suppose the NFL likes to appear it's concerned about emphasizing education even though I think we all know better.
Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib during rookie mini-camp on May 4th. [Brian Cassella, Times]