Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

St. Petersburg's Bernard Reedy doing whatever it takes to make Bucs

TAMPA — That guy you might have seen recently pumping gas at a St. Petersburg Shell station with his right hand while bouncing a football off the pavement and catching it with his left? That was Bernard Reedy improving his pass-catching technique.

That guy running pass patterns over the winter and catching passes from his older sister at Lake Vista Park? Reedy again.

The guy who used the jump seat in his Care Ride van to do dips and push-ups during down times in his job ferrying patients to and from doctor's appointments? Yep, him.

"I always have that feeling that there is something I can be doing," Reedy said.

The St. Petersburg native, who starred at Lakewood High and the University of Toledo, is competing for a job as a receiver for the Bucs. In three preseason games, Reedy, 24, has three receptions for 44 yards, returned four punts with a long of 43 yards, and returned two kicks with a long of 21 yards.

"Very exciting player," quarterback Jameis Winston said.

Explosive, too. What the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Reedy lacks in size, he makes up for in speed.

"Speedy Reedy. He can go from 0-40 just like that," said Rob Williams, Reedy's receivers coach at Lakewood.

That speed was on display in the third quarter of Friday's preseason game against the Browns when Reedy fielded a punt at the 23-yard line, ran left, cut back right for two steps, cut left again, then turned the corner and raced 43 yards to set up a Roberto Aguayo field goal.

Reedy spent the past two preseasons with Atlanta. He was on the Falcons' practice squad in 2014 but was cut last August after the third preseason game.

"I think spending that year on the practice squad made him hungrier," Reedy's older sister Innekia said.

Reedy returned to St. Petersburg, where he took a job with Care Van and worked out weekday afternoons at All Star Sports Indoor Training Complex, reuniting with Williams and former Lakewood High defensive coordinator Brian Cooper. Reedy called the facility "the Jungle."

"That's what I like," Williams said. "We want the beast to come out."

Receiver Donteea Dye's hamstring injury, suffered Friday, might have enhanced Reedy's chances of making the team. The practice squad is a possibility.

"He's fighting a little bit of an uphill battle," coach Dirk Koetter said. "But it's a long season. You never know what's going to happen."

Reedy feels he is in a good spot. He has a history with Koetter, who was the Falcons' offensive coordinator in 2014. He likes being home, where he is surrounded by familiar faces, including Innekia, who calls herself his "biggest fan."

She is also her little brother's biggest role model.

Innekia was twice named Pinellas County's flag football player of the year while at Lakewood. Reedy earned county football player of the year just once. "She has the bragging rights," he said.

And, Innekia could leave her little brother in the dust when the two raced barefoot in the park near their home. At least until Reedy reached high school.

Innekia might not throw a perfect spiral — "She throws too hard. They come out ugly," Reedy said — she is ready to help her brother hone his pass-catching skills a couple of times a week and always on the weekend.

Ready said he did some soul searching in the offseason, asking himself if he still loved football and if he still wanted to play.

"There was never a thought of, 'Was I good enough?' " Reedy said, "The thought was when I got my chance I was going to be ready. My body was tired every single day, but you got to get it done. You don't know if you're ever going to play football again, but you want to be ready."

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