Bucs' rookies have real chances to contribute
When the Bucs’ rookies got together for their first official training camp practice this morning, it wasn’t just a matter of going through the motions.
Unlike their experiences when entering college football, when most knew they’d never see the field, it’s different in the pros.
In Tampa Bay, rookies have just as much opportunity to play critical roles as anyone else on the roster. In fact, the organization is practically expecting that from this class of rookies.
“I think there’s great opportunities, maybe more than any other year,” coach Greg Schiano said. “Not because of who they’re competing with but because those veterans don’t have as much of a head start in this scheme. They have a head start in being veteran players, but they don’t have a head start in this specific scheme. So I think our rookies, I’ve told them these are great opportunities to get yourself ready to battle for a job.”
The NFL permitted rookies to report to training camp early this year, something the Bucs are taking full advantage of with extensive on-field and classroom work.
As for the roles some first-year players will fulfill, first-round picks Mark Barron (who is still absent because of ongoing contract negotiations) and Doug Martin, and second-round choice Lavonte David could all earn starting jobs. Given the Bucs’ 4-12 record last season, a new coaching staff with no preconceptions of returning players and the new schemes Schiano referenced, rookies who distinguish themselves will have chances to become key cogs.
Martin, a running back from Boise State, already can see a distinction between his arrival in the NFL and his first foray onto a college campus.
“It’s definitely different,” he said. “I feel like I have a definite chance to (play). In college, I redshirted. I had to wait for the (older) two guys to get out there and eventually compete to get to that top spot.
“It’s definitely different.”
The opportunity to report to camp earlier and perform on-field work with coaches will only improve the rookies’ chances for success. The Bucs are trying to make the most of it while there’s time. Veterans report for camp in one week.
“The individual attention, which maybe a week from now they’re not going to get (that),” Schiano said. “We’re going to work our tails off to make sure they do get repetitions, because that’s the only way you prove whether you can or can’t. (But) when there’s more people here, there’s less reps.”