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Navy’s Cameron Kinley grateful to resume NFL aspiration

Bucs notes | The undrafted free agent is back with Tampa Bay after initially having his military deferment denied.
Bucs cornerback Cameron Kinley (26) warms up on the opening day of the team's training camp Sunday morning in Tampa.
Bucs cornerback Cameron Kinley (26) warms up on the opening day of the team's training camp Sunday morning in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jul. 25
Updated Jul. 25

TAMPA — In the wake of a turbulent offseason in which he transitioned from sleek cornerback to sympathetic figure, Cameron Kinley formally has resumed his pursuit of a spot on the Bucs’ roster.

Which figures to be more daunting — but far less emotionally taxing — than his high-profile pursuit of justice.

“It was tough,” said the former Navy standout, trying to latch on as an undrafted free agent. “I’m thankful that I had a strong support system to keep me motivated and keep me positive so that I could come back down here for training camp.”

Initially denied a request to have his military commission delayed so he could pursue an NFL career, Kinley watched the Department of Defense do an about-face and approve the deferment earlier this month. The amended decision came after the initial denial sparked national outrage, even prompting Florida Senator Marco Rubio to write President Joe Biden on Kinley’s behalf.

“It was definitely crazy, and I’m appreciative of all the support that people put in to make this happen,” Kinley told reporters after the Bucs’ initial practice of their 2021 training camp.

“That’s what this was all about ... in the future that nobody would have to go through what I went through. So I hope that the situation serves for that, and that we have some consistency moving forward, so that everybody gets a chance to live out both their dreams.”

During his several weeks in limbo, Kinley said he worked out with former Midshipmen teammates in Annapolis and at his high school — Lausanne Collegiate in Memphis. With the Bucs loaded — and still relatively young — at cornerback, Kinley’s most viable opportunity at making the roster appears to be on special teams.

“He came back in great shape,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s been studying just in case, so he’s ready to go.”

Related: Bucs tailback Leonard Fournette won't rule out vaccine, wants to learn more

Bucs add another safety

Mildly thin at safety entering training camp, the Bucs signed former Stony Brook standout Chris Cooper, who has appeared on no fewer than four practice squads since entering the league in 2018.

Meantime, Arians announced safety Raven Greene, who signed as a free agent after spending the previous three seasons in Green Bay, had been excused from Sunday’s practice for personal reasons. It remains unclear when he’ll return.

Additionally, 2020 starter Jordan Whitehead, who played in Super Bowl 55 with a torn labrum, currently is on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Odds and ends

Receiver Antonio Brown was a noticeably late arrival at Sunday’s practice, but Arians wouldn’t address the reason for his tardiness. “He’s fine,” the coach said. ... Safety Mike Edwards nearly had a pick-six of Tom Brady in a two-minute drill late in practice. ... Arians on receiver (and fourth-round draft pick) Jaelon Darden, who battled a hamstring issue during June’s mandatory minicamp: “He’s fine. He dropped too many damned passes..”

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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