The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin the first week of their 14 week offseason training program starting on Monday. Although the program is voluntary, it is attended by the majority of the team. Players like quarterback Josh Freeman and guard Arron Sears started training and working out on their own at One Buc Place weeks ago, but they now get to work in a scheduled program alongside the coaching and training staff.
This year's offseason schedule, however, will be very different than what the team did in previous years. One of the biggest modifications made was pushing the 14 OTA days allotted by the NFL back until a few weeks after the draft to allow rookies time to get more comfortable and involved in the offseason preparations. As a result, the first two months of the program will be based on strength training and conditioning and is led by head strength and conditioning coach Kurtis Shultz.
In a video interview with Scott Smith on Buccaneers.com, Shultz talked about the new offseason schedule and all of the changes that took place within it.
"In the past we trained for two weeks and then did an OTA for one, and our training gets interrupted a little bit," Shultz said. "I know that [head coach] Raheem Morris and [general manager] Mark Dominik talked about it and now we'll be able to get some really good training in for about eight weeks straight without any interruptions and also get [players] familiar with the new coaches. Everybody knows Joe Baker, but the linebackers haven't worked with him yet, so that will be good."
Another familiar face that will be back in the building under a different title this season is defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake. Although Lake served as the Bucs assistant DB coach for the 2006 and 2007 seasons, the only players he coached those years that remain on the roster are cornerback Ronde Barber and safeties Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson.
Other new coaching staff additions that the team will get the chance to familiarize themselves with throughout the offseason program include quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt and wide receivers coach Eric Yarber.
Besides a handful of players having to adjust to new position coaches, other changes in store for the Bucs include a nutritionist that the team has hired and a tougher workout regiment put in place by Shultz.
"On our side we've hired a full time nutritionist here, who is also going to help in the weight room, named Kevin Morris," said Shultz. "We're also going to do a little bit more strong man stuff this year, dealing with a more rope stuff, tire throws, and kegs."
And no, bringing in kegs does not mean the Bucs are attempting to replicate the Redskins' old 5 O'Clock Club and players will have a few drinks after practice in the equipment shed behind One Buc Place like running back John Riggins and Washington's offensive linemen did in the early 80's. These kegs will instead be filled with water and will be used for strength training purposes. Many of Tampa Bay's new workout routines are actually similar to what you might see in a World's Strongest Man competition.
"With the strong man stuff, you've got to use your whole body," said Shultz. "You can't just use your arms. If you're bench pressing, you're really just using your chest, your shoulders, and your triceps, but now when you're talking about a keg or a tire, you're talking about your whole body and plus the factor of doing something different. Mentally, it also helps the guys as well because these are very hard exercises that we're going to be doing."