Bucs WR Adam Humphries - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Entering training camp last year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries admits he didn’t know quite what to expect.
He was an undrafted free agent and, outside of ACC football followers, not exactly a well-known name after four years at Clemson University. Then he was surrounded by established veterans and draft picks expected to make the team.
“When you first get here you’re kind of looking around seeing what other guys do,” Humphries said last month during the Bucs mandatory mini-camp. “You don’t really know how to take care of yourself as a pro – before and during practice, getting ready, stretching, all that stuff.”
Just like any other first-time training camp participant, from other undrafted rookies to No. 1 overall selection Jameis Winston, it can be challenging to prepare for something when there’s no real point of reference.
The odds aren’t stacked in favor of players in Humphries’ situation, but he got the invite and opportunity for a reason. That’s what Humphries focused on. That and making sure he spent the month of August supremely focused while leaving everything he had out on the practice fields of One Buccaneer Place.
The mindset and effort paid off. Humphries made all 5 feet, 11 inches and 195 pounds of himself visible during practice, caught passes thrown his way throughout the preseason (nine receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown) and found himself on the 53-man roster heading into Week 1.
“Coming in last year my expectations were just trying to make it through training camp and then work my way from there,” he said. “Obviously I had some good preseason games and ended up making the squad so that was awesome.”
Not only did Humphries make the squad, he managed to carve himself out a role as a sure-handed slot receiver Winston came to trust as a target. In 13 games, the 23-year-old pulled in 27 of his 41 targets for 260 yards, 18 first downs and one touchdown.
What last year did was provide Humphries with the confidence that he can in fact play in the league and the knowledge of what it takes to be an NFL football player. But that doesn’t mean it’s cruise-control time. Last year was last year and he’s preparing for 2016 training camp with the same make-the-team mentality.
“Even though I’ve been here I’ve got to have the same mindset,” Humphries said. “I have to win this spot year in and year out. No matter where I stand on the depth chart I still have to win the job coming back in town.”
And it’s a highly sought-after job this summer. The Bucs will enter training camp with 11 wide receivers fighting for six to seven active roster spots.
Among those 11 are Louis Murphy and Kenny Bell. Murphy, an eight-year vet, missed the final 10 weeks of the season with a knee injury. Bell, a fifth-round selection last year out of Nebraska, essentially red-shirted with the Bucs after injuring his hamstring and landing on injured reserve midway through the preseason schedule.
Along with Murphy and Bell are the team’s top two receivers, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, and returning contributors Donteea Dye Jr. and Russell Shepard. Then there are practice squad holdovers Evan Spencer and Andre Davis, in addition to Bernard Reedy and Freddy Martino.
It’ll be a crowded, competitive receivers room throughout camp and Humphries knows it. But armed with last year’s experience and a better understanding of what it takes to succeed, he said he’s excited for the challenge and what this team can accomplish in 2016.
“Obviously everyone wants to be better every year, so I think that’s the main goal,” he said. “I’m still working on what I want to do this year but I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do as a team and myself personally.”
“It’s great to have competitive depth like this because it keeps everyone on their toes and working hard. I’m fortunate to be in a room like what we have with our receivers.”
I love his work ethic. I hope Bell, Murphy, Dye, Spencer, and the rest have that same attitude or they won’t be playing in Tampa.
I’m excited to see what our receiving corp can do with another year of experience and chemistry with Winston. If the defense can show marked improvement, we’ll be on our way to competing for the division soon
I have not seen any one of these guys play this off season. But if Koetter is to be believed coming out of mandatory mini-camp, do not look past WR Bernard Reedy.
Sorry fellas! Forgot my usual and hopefully confirming link. lol.
We have two very solid 1, and 2 WR’s in Evans and Jackson (providing Evans fixes the drops and gets his temper under control), but after that no solid dependable 3rd. Lot of guys seem close to breaking out will see I guess. Need a couple to really break out this year since Jackson likely be gone soon. We probably have a third on the roster but may have to draft or got to free agency when we lose Jackson to get a legit 2nd. ASJ is big question mark still too at TE. Lots of talent but jury still out with injuries and maturity.
If Vjax has a good year I think they will offer him a K extension at a reduced rate. It will be easy to reduce haggling by doing the following:
It’s all about 3 so new annual contract = $3,333,333.33:) Done
Well said, fredster.
Dr d. Thank you sir.
So many young guys at WR that seem to be close like Humphries, but who knows.we may have 2 or 3 diamonds in rhe rough. I know Koetter thinks so. Maybe with our offense mostly intact for second year in a row and Winston progressing, some guys at WR will blossom stand out.
Had a chance to watch one of the Mini-Camp practices. VJax was on the sidelines that day. Of course Mike Evans was the best of the bunch, but the others, with their sleeker body types, looked very smooth catching passes. None seemed to be fighting the ball. This is a position that concerns me until one or two of the youngsters emerges. Probably a priority in the 2017 Draft with Jackson’s age.
If we all believe Winston will have a better season this year like I do, then his receivers will have to also. A guy like Brady makes Welker a pro bowler, by the way Winston called Humphries his Wes Welker. Brady never won a superbowl with Moss, but did with Gronk. Our receivers are the least of our problems.
Humphries is a little engine that could type of receiver he does nothing special but he is playing hard and makes some catches under neath, not sure if he even makes the team this yr
I think the biggest question mark with the receivers this year is how good can Bell be. The second question is how good will Lewis Murphy be when he is healthy again. Hopefully, one of those two can replace VJAX as the second receiver behind Evans when VJAX retires. Humphries should stay along with Streeter.
Owlykat: You keep mentioning “Streeter”. Others have told you there is no one named Streeter on the team. I suspect you mean #89 Russell Shepard.
I didn’t know much about Humphries but I do remember hearing his name get called every week with a reception. If Winston is going to be one of the truly great QB’s in this league, then he has to make the offense great with guys like Humphries. Hopefully he continues do that
If for some reason Humphries doesn’t make the team probably a good chance he does end up in NE. lol. I still think ASJ will have a Huge season. I don’t think he’s a problem player and I never had agreed with the theory that if someone happens to get hurt there first two years (in a row)that there injury prone. It’s football, guys hit each other on every play. The odds are some guys are gonna get hurt two or even three years (less odds)in a row just because of the sport. If a player gets hurt in consecutive yrs after there rookie yr there pretty much never called injury prone. Very few guys are actually injury prone even though it does exist. IMO it’s just odds some players are gonna get hurt serious enough to miss games in more than one yr and occasionally it will happen in consecutive yrs.
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