TAMPA ― When he was a rookie, Tristan Wirfs was tested trying to block Pro Bowl linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul in training camp. That made for some long days and sleepless nights.
“Coming in, I’d go back to my apartment last year in camp and, like, I had a rough day with JPP and Shaq and everybody. I was like. ‘I don’t know if I’m cut out for this,’” Wirfs said. “It was all sorts of things. Just getting used to being in a new place, learning a new playbook and making sure you go home and studying.
“... I think there’s been some ups and downs. But there’s only one way to go through things. I’m just trying to keep my head down and get after it.”
Wirfs’ hard work has paid off. On Friday, he became the Bucs’ first offensive lineman to be named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
Quarterback Tom Brady was named second-team All-Pro behind the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.
Wirfs said he learned of the award on his way to a meeting with the offensive line and Brady.
“He said, ‘Congrats. Now you’ve set the standard,’” Wirfs said. “I’ve got to keep on it.”
A first-round pick out of Iowa in 2020, Wirfs allowed only one sack as a rookie. A few weeks ago, he was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team along with center Ryan Jensen and guard Ali Marpet.
But he said being named All-Pro was never really a goal.
““You want to do your best for your teammates who are going out there and grinding every week, and you just want to showcase what you can do on Sundays and not let your teammates down,” Wirfs said. “That’s just kind of my mindset going into games and into the season.”
Wirfs said guard Alex Cappa was among the teammates who have helped him improve his game.
“I’m real glad they all took me under their wing when I first got here and helped me develop,” Wirfs said. “I wouldn’t be here without Cap. That’s 100-percent true. I lean on him quite a bit, and it’s cool how our relationship has developed with each other on the field. It’s super cool. I love all these guys.”
The Bucs will host the Eagles in Sunday’s wild-card game but will be without several key players at skill positions. However, the offensive line has remained intact.
“When it comes down to it, we want to put the team on our shoulders and bring it home,” Wirfs said.
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