TAMPA — WR Jordan Shipley has been through three practices since joining the Bucs on Monday, but that won't stop him from seeing action in tonight's preseason game against the Patriots.
Shipley will come in late, and coaches will "kind of spoon-feed" him, coach Greg Schiano said.
For his part, Shipley — claimed off waivers from the Bengals — believes he has enough of a comfort level to function and, perhaps, contribute.
The Bucs offense "is similar to the offense we had my rookie year (in Cincinnati)," said Shipley, who was a standout at the University of Texas. "So I'm picking it up. Most of the stuff we've installed, I think I've got it."
Look for Shipley to also field some punts, Schiano saying he has been a "natural under the ball in punt returns." That's where he might be able to help the team, which would not mind pushing Preston Parker because of his tendency to mishandle kicks.
Shipley said he would relish the chance to return punts.
"I did it all through high school, all through college," said Shipley, a third-year player who missed most of last season with a torn ACL. "I got to do some in my rookie year in the preseason, and I had a couple of good returns. I really love it."
GATOR MANIA: The Patriots were back Thursday for the second of two joint practices, and it was hard not to notice their abundance of former Florida Gators: LB Jermaine Cunningham, RB Jeff Demps, TE Aaron Hernandez, LB Brandon Spikes, WR Jabar Gaffney and DT Gerard Warren.
And it's no coincidence.
Coach Bill Belichick said he has been uniquely positioned to obtain information about Florida players through his relationships with former coach Urban Meyer and current coach Will Muschamp. (Gaffney and Warren predate their tenures.)
"The University of Florida has great athletes and great players at their school, as do the other Florida schools," Belichick said.
"Maybe I had a little bit more insight or opportunity to evaluate. And we felt like those particular players that we drafted fit our system and what we were doing."
Belichick got plenty of face time with Gators players when Meyer had him speak at a clinic. And Belichick has been a regular on campus, attending several predraft pro days
HURRY UP: Although it's preseason, Schiano will be watching to see how his team fares against the Patriots' up-tempo offense that often prevents defensive personnel changes.
Schiano said it's a product of the college game — with which the former Rutgers coach is quite familiar — impacting the pros.
"For years, everything used to trickle down to the college game," he said. "Now there are a lot of things that are trickling up. The no-huddle, the gun-run game, those things have kind of trickled up."
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @BucsBeat.