The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drew accolades from the media and around the NFL for their stellar 2010 draft class. Now if only the team can see what it actually has in its rookie class.
Injuries have hit nearly half of Tampa Bay’s draft picks with defensive tackle Brian Price, a second-round pick out of UCLA, the latest to go down with an injury. Price pulled his right hamstring doing some agility bag drills just minutes into Saturday afternoon’s practice at the team’s rookie mini-camp and collapsed to the turf. Team trainer Todd Toriscelli escorted Price to the training room for a closer look, signaling that his day was done.
Price joins the likes of cornerback Myron Lewis, Tampa Bay’s third-round pick from Vanderbilt, linebacker Dekoda Watson, a seventh-rounder from Florida State and defensive end Erik Lorig, a seventh-round selection from Stanford, as members of the walking wounded at One Buc Place. The good news for head coach Raheem Morris is that none of the injuries are believed to be serious.
“Lorig is the only guy that came with the injury,” Morris said. “He has a pectoral injury, and he’ll be back here soon after he is done going through his rehab. The other guys all had strains – Lewis with an [abdominal strain], Price with a hamstring, and Watson with a hamstring. Those are precautionary. We don’t want to worsen any of those situations.”
Despite a long layoff from when the 70-plus players attending the rookie mini-camp last strapped on helmets and held football practices, Morris indicated that the conditioning level of the team was quite good considering the fact it was sunny, hot and humid with temperatures in the lower 90s. On Friday’s practice, it was about 10 degrees cooler and there was plenty of cloud cover.
“It was another good practice today,” Morris said. We got the guys running around a little bit. They got to experience some real Tampa weather today.”
FORMER BUCS GET THE CHANCE TO COACH
The Buccaneers have some new coaches this year in quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, wide receivers coach Eric Yarber and linebackers coach Joe Baker, who was in charge of the defensive backs last year. Jimmy Lake, who was an assistant DBs coach under Raheem Morris in 2007 is now back in Tampa Bay after a two-year stint in Detroit and in charge of the secondary.
But Lake isn’t the only familiar face. Byron Storer, an undrafted free agent fullback who was signed by Tampa Bay in 2007, is also a newcomer to the coaching staff. Storer tore his ACL in 2008 and reinjured it last sprint prior to the 2009 season. It was after a second ACL tear that Storer decided to giving up playing football and opted to coach it.
“Byron Storer went down with a knee injury last year,” Morris said. “But that didn’t stop him from want to help out. He is helping breaking down special teams tape for us, along with a bunch of different things. He is always looking to help out. This year we made him a part of it as an assistant. He has his own office upstairs. He is up there breaking down tape with Rich Bisaccia.”
Although he is not on the staff, former Bucs defensive lineman Ellis Wyms, who was Tampa Bay’s sixth-round pick in 2001, has been out at practice the last two days assisting defensive line coach Todd Wash. Wyms, who played for the Bucs from 2001-06 before playing for Seattle in 2007 and Minnesota in 2008, was out of football last year and is looking to get into coaching at age 31.
“Ellis Wyms and guys like that are guys that we bring in because they have some interest in coaching,” Morris said. “I know he’s still trying to play, but he wants to get his feet wet in coaching. He getting used to relaying information. It is one thing to tell somebody how to do it, but it is another thing to speak the language.”
BIG FULLBACK CATCHING MORRIS’ EYE
One of the players that has impressed during the rookie mini-camp is former Clemson fullback Rendrick Taylor, who is in Tampa Bay on a try-out basis. The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder had 13 carries for 37 yards and 54 catches for 533 yards and one touchdown for the Tigers, but his main job was to block for James Davis and C.J. Spiller in college.
“[Taylor] intrigued me when he walked into the building,” Morris said. “He is such a physical presence, and he is a good looking young man. Right now we don’t know what to call him. He’s a smart and savvy player. There is a nice amount of balance, as he used to be a wide receiver. Guys like him are the kind of guys slip through the cracks every year. “
Taylor has played fullback and tight end during the rookie mini-camp, and he does have some talents that were underused at Clemson due to the plethora of weapons the Tigers program has had in the backfield over the years. Check out this 97-yard touchdown catch in the Clemson spring game.
The Bucs have just one true fullback on their roster in Chris Pressley after the team released veteran B.J. Askew last week following the 2010 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay has also used halfback Earnest Graham at fullback over the past two years.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Wide receiver Arrelious Benn, Tampa Bay’s second-round pick, told PewterReport.com how he got his “Rejus” nickname:
“I just found out how I got the nickname ‘Rejus,’” Benn said. “I got it from my father, actually. This is the first time my father told me where I got it from. He told me his friends used to call him “Religious” because he always went to church. I had the same name as him, Arrelious, so I guess they put the “J” in it and made it “Rejus”. I guess that’s how I got it. I never met anyone [with the name Arrelious] except for my father. I go by Rejus or A.B. Not too many people [call me Arrelious]. When I hear Arrelious – my mom calls me Arrelious when she’s mad at me!”
Eric Dellarata contributed to this report.