TAMPA — Barely 25 months after being drafted with the first round’s final pick, Bucs outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka finds himself in a role he didn’t expect to assume so quickly.
That new reality has manifested itself during the Bucs’ organized team activities, where Tryon-Shoyinka, 24, and fifth-year teammate Anthony Nelson represent the grizzled veterans of a rookie-infused group. Carl Nassib wasn’t re-signed, and two-time Pro Bowler Shaquil Barrett remains out while coping with his family tragedy and rehabbing his torn Achilles.
“The whole defense just feels like we went from old to young real quick, blink of an eye,” Tryon-Shoyinka said. “It’s just a different mindset going in. You have more expectations for yourself, and you want to be that crutch that a younger guy can lean on that you would’ve needed when you were younger.”
Transitioning to a veteran sounding board belies the fact that Tryon-Shoyinka is entering a pivotal juncture of his rookie deal. In a plateau season of sorts last fall, the 2021 draft’s No. 32 overall pick managed only four sacks (equal to his rookie-year total), including a half-sack over his final seven games.
But coach Todd Bowles suggests Tryon-Shoyinka was on the cusp of many more and can evolve into a better finisher in 2023 with a few tweaks at the top of his pass rush.
“Obviously, it’s not leaving your feet so early,” Bowles said Tuesday. “And it’s pushing through with your shoulder and understanding when you can go for the ball and when you can’t go for the ball.”
Refinement this offseason has come under the supervision of new outside linebackers coach George Edwards, a 25-year NFL assistant. Tryon-Shoyinka has remained among the handful of veterans (including receiver Chris Godwin and left tackle Tristan Wirfs) regularly attending the voluntary workouts.
“You’ve got to just have that willpower to finish,” Tryon-Shoyinka said. “Being in position isn’t enough; you want to make those plays. You’re going to rewind those plays that you missed every time (and) be sick just thinking about what could’ve been. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to move on and just try to improve, and that’s all I’m going to do.”
Tuesday’s organized team activity, one of the last before next week’s mandatory minicamp, attracted a handful of prominent veterans previously absent from the voluntary workouts that have been open to reporters.
Receiver Mike Evans participated, as did cornerback Carlton Davis and tailback Chase Edmonds, joining a group of regulars that has included left tackle Tristan Wirfs, safety Antoine Winfield and cornerback Jamel Dean.
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“Most of them have been here the whole time, and some of them have been in and out,” Bowles said. “But we’ve had a good turnout so far, so it’s been pretty good.”
Even center Ryan Jensen, who missed the entire 2022 regular season with three torn knee ligaments, attended Tuesday but didn’t participate, removing the cumbersome black brace from his left knee midway through the workout.
Bowles was noncommital when asked about Jensen’s status for the mandatory minicamp, though he does expect the 11th-year veteran — and anyone else who may be sidelined from practicing — to attend.
“We’ll see how he’s feeling,” Bowles said. “It’s off and on with that, and we’ll see how he feels in (training) camp.”
“We have gambling-policy rules that we go over every year. ... We don’t really do it in the spring, because it’s not mandatory so you don’t reach everybody. But next week at mandatory minicamp, we’ll sit down and have that meeting and we’ll discuss it, and they’ll know exactly what they can and can’t do.” — Bowles, in the immediate wake of reports the NFL is investigating Colts cornerback (and Blake High alumnus) Isaiah Rodgers for possible gambling violations
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