Two important but ultimately unrelated updates on Bucs defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu: his huge hair is gone, and he's dropped 15 pounds.
Tu'ikolovatu, a seventh-round pick in 2017 out of USC, spent his rookie year on injured reserve with a knee injury. Back healthy, he will have to fight for a roster spot on a defensive line that has five key newcomers for 2018.
"I'm a lot lighter," said Tu'ikolvatu, now weighing about 340 pounds and as such, more comfortable in the Florida summer heat. "I'm used to the heat a little bit and know the playbook more, so I'm able to play with a lot less thinking."
The Bucs have four defensive tackles solidly in their rotation in Gerald McCoy, rookie Vita Vea and newcomers Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein. It's on Tu'ikolovatu to make a case for carrying a fifth tackle.
Dropping the weight was a priority for Tu'ikolovatu, and it will remain so throughout training camp. He said he tried to make salads a primary meal, with help from his wife.
"Not eat," he said of his key to shedding weight. "I would eat salads as my meals, salads and grilled chicken. My wife helped a lot, because any time I was tempted to eat, she would get on my butt about it."
Much like Vea this year, Tu'ikolovatu's massive hair was a big part of his introduction last summer, but he went with a clean cut for training camp.
"I know that was a trademark look," he said. "I was training here in Tampa, on an outdoor turf field, running at 11, 12, when it was hottest. I told myself every day I was going to cut my hair, and the day finally came. It feels good, but the back of my head and neck is burning now."