TAMPA — When Cody Grimm showed up at One Buc Place in 2010 as a baby-faced seventh-round pick, it seemed a stretch to even predict he'd make the team.
"Who knew sitting here at this time last year that Cody was going to be playing for us and would be the clear-cut starter," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said of his free safety. "You never know."
But as he began to learn the Bucs' defense during training camp, it slowly became clear Grimm could be a factor. As it turned out, he became more than that, replacing suspended Tanard Jackson in the starting lineup in Week 3 and starting nine games before suffering a broken leg.
Now, at the start of his second camp, Grimm is not merely trying to catch coaches' eyes. He's trying to fine-tune his game and progress to the next level.
"It's a lot different feeling coming in this year," Grimm said. "I feel more comfortable. Instead of learning just the defense, I'm learning different disguises we can use and some other positions I can help out with. I think it's a real chance to improve in the mental aspect of the game."
There has already been evidence of that. Defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake used Grimm as an example to incoming players this week when he cited Grimm's ability to bait offensive players.
His ability to anticipate and communicate with his teammates has also grown considerably. During Monday's practice, Grimm and CB E.J. Biggers made a defensive shift the Bucs call "Viper." Neither player said a word or even made a gesture.
"I just called his name," Grimm said, "looked at him, and we both know what it means."
The same applies between Grimm and SS Sean Jones, Morris said.
"I was just marveling at that in the walkthrough, watching those guys disguise (coverages)," Morris said. "When (Josh) Freeman checks off, they just move to a different look. They have a great feel for the defense … and how we want to attack people."
About the only concern with Grimm is whether he has fully recovered from the broken leg. He said entering camp, he wasn't confident he'd be cleared to fully participate, but he hasn't been slowed much.
It has affected his quickness, but Grimm said, "I think it's getting better every day."
And with five weeks until opening day, Grimm feels he has plenty of time to recover.
RESTING UP: The Bucs had an off day Tuesday and will practice today through Saturday, then break again Sunday. Players likely relished the break after Monday — the team's first day in pads and a full-contact practice.