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Bucs journal: Rookie minicamp full of promising players focusing on NFL adjustment

Players will join full squad on Tuesday at organized team activities.
Draft pick cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) runs drills during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookie Mini-Camp on May 11, 2019 at the AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa, Florida. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published May 11
Updated May 12

TAMPA — Bucs coach Bruce Arians admits he and his staff threw a lot at the players participating in this weekend’s rookie minicamp.

For some, the teaching took place before they hit the practice field. For others, it was more on the fly once they got to the AdventHealth Training Center.

There were the early morning phone calls that second-round draft pick Sean Murphy-Bunting received from cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross quizzing him on the playbook.

“(My phone) says 6:03, and I’m like, hello?” Murphy-Bunting recounted Saturday. “(Ross is) like ‘Sean … 53-J, what do you have?’ … He woke me up early. Had to get my brain going. That’s kind of how it was for, like, five days straight.”

Then there were the not-so-subtle reminders, such as the one wide receiver Scotty Miller received when assistant coach Antwaan Randle El intervened in his media scrum, asking whether Miller had learned to hydrate better on minicamp’s second day.

You can’t put too much stock into the two-day minicamp — Arians canceled today’s scheduled practice because he was pleased with what he saw through two practices — because players didn’t practice in pads. But it gave rookies a valuable introduction to an NFL playbook and the adjustments they’ll have to make on the field.

“We threw a lot at these guys, and these guys coming out of college have so much to learn because so many of them offensively have never been in a huddle,” Arians said. “They don’t huddle. They don’t get in a three-point stance.

“That’s the new wave. That’s how we have to coach now. It’s totally different than 10 years ago, but we’re ready for it.”

The Bucs love the promise that quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State, has not only at his natural position but on special teams and wherever else his athleticism could be utilized. This weekend, getting ahold of a pro-style offense was enough for Fitzgerald.

“It’s tough,” he said. “You go from college, where everything is spread, zone reads, air raids, to a more pro-style offense, getting under center. That’s always tough, getting your footwork down, and it’s just how we operate with the huddle. I’ve never don’t that before. I’m enjoying it. I like the grind; I like the challenges.”


Inside linebacker/draft pick Devin White (45) runs drills with tryout outside linebacker David Kenney on Saturday (MONICA HERNDON | Times)

The draft picks, undrafted free-agent signees and a few tryout players who performed well enough will join full-squad organized team activities Tuesday, when Arians plans to have two practice fields going.

“It gives you kind of a step in the door as far as before the vets get here so you know what to expect and know what to do so when they get here, you don’t look like you’re far behind,” Murphy-Bunting said. “You look like you’re a part of the team.”

Quick takes

• Arians said the Bucs will look at Murphy-Bunting and safety Mike Edwards as nickelbacks to give the team different body types at the position.

• It is difficult to gauge defensive front players without pads, but outside linebacker David Kenney, a tryout from Indiana, apparently did enough to draw a closer look. “When you get to the quarterback just about every play, that catches everybody’s attention,” Arians said.

• Arians picked out former Richmond receiver Cortrelle Simpson and ex-Buffalo receiver Anthony Johnson as wideouts who stood out in Saturday’s practice.

• Asked about Jason Pierre-Paul’s decision to not have surgery on his fractured neck vertebra, suffered in a car accident last week, Arians said, “That’s totally up to him, and I can’t talk about his injuries.”

• Arians passed on offering reaction to Gerald McCoy’s comments to Bay News 9’s Spectrum Sports 360 on Friday. “I don’t talk about guys who aren’t here,” he said. “Ask me about a guy who’s here and I’ll talk about him all day.” McCoy told the show while at Dick Vitale’s cancer fundraiser in Sarasota, “I will be playing football somewhere” this year. When asked if he would be playing in Tampa Bay, McCoy shrugged. “I don’t know. We’ll see,” he said.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

Related content:

Vincent Testaverde Jr. looking to make name for himself in Bucs rookie minicamp (May 10, 2019)

Cornerbacks Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting draw notice on first day of rookie minicamp (May 10, 2019)

Who stands out among the Bucs’ undrafted free agents? (April 29, 2019)

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