TAMPA — If you’re into symbolism, Kyle Trask was the quarterback selected to take the first rep at the podium when the Bucs’ voluntary workout program began Monday.
Standing tall in the interview room, the former Florida star appeared comfortable surveying the surroundings and admitted how much he was embracing the chance to compete with Baker Mayfield for the starting job.
It certainly was different than the previous two seasons when Trask was tucked away as the quiet understudy to Tom Brady and a distant No. 3 on the depth chart behind backup Blaine Gabbert.
Trask had not met Mayfield until Monday (“Great person, great dude,” he said) and admitted he may have a bit of a home-field advantage over the former Heisman Trophy winner, who is with his fourth team since last July.
“I have just been told it’s an open competition,” Trask said. “But at the end of the day, I know that the team is going to do what they have to do to put whoever on the field that’s going to allow our team to be the most successful. And for me, I feel this time I just really need to hone in and be as consistent as I can.
“Fortunately enough, I’ve had two years of prior experience with a very veteran quarterback room, and there’s a lot to take away from that. And I’m going to try to implement some of those styles and routines that they had into my routine and hopefully that will make us more successful.”
Mayfield, 28, has a decided edge in experience, having passed for 16,288 yards and 102 touchdowns in six NFL seasons with the Browns, Panthers and Rams.
Trask, 25, has only been active for two games in two seasons, appearing in a mop-up role in the final regular-season game at Atlanta last year in which he completed 3 of 9 passes for 23 yards.
“This is a good opportunity for me ... a great opportunity for me to compete with someone like Baker, who has definitely proven himself in this league,” Trask said.
Two things would seem to favor Trask in the matchup with Mayfield. Even though both are starting from scratch, learning the new offense from coordinator Dave Canales, Trask has a lot of familiarity with the players in the Bucs’ locker room and in the huddle. He has thrown to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and forged relationships with the offensive linemen.
“Part of the reason we play is the relationships and that’s what makes it so much more fun is when you’re just getting to know people, getting to know people’s families, hanging out with people on and off the field, and most importantly, what we do on that field,” Trask said.
The other advantage for Trask is that he has benefitted from sitting in meeting rooms and sharing the practice field with Brady, who prepared harder than any quarterback in the league. He said Brady handled the ups and downs of the regular season with incredible consistency.
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“I was in that room every day for two years. I learned so much,” Trask said. “It’s hard to pinpoint, you know, a specific thing I learned from (Brady). But if I were to give me one answer, he (had) just such a tight routine. A true professional. ... You know, the highs and lows of whatever it may be, but still coming to work and still getting the job done.”
Working against Trask, aside from his inexperience, is that he spent two seasons learning the details of an offensive system under fired coordinator Byron Leftwich. In addition, Bucs quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen retired and was replaced by Thad Lewis, who served as the assistant receivers coach.
Canales is installing an offense similar to the one run by quarterback Geno Smith in Seattle last season, a run-heavy attack that featured rookie running back Kenneth Walker, who rushed for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns. Trask still is awaiting a playbook but was excited about the introduction Canales made to the group about the scheme.
“I’m loving every part of it so far,” Trask said. “And if you look back to what they were able to do in Seattle last year, it’s a very quarterback-friendly offense. They do a great job of tying the run and the pass game together, putting themselves in the best position possible.”
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