While Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman has been having some informal workouts with some of the team’s wide receivers in Tampa, those sessions have not at all resembled the organized team activities that typically take place at team headquarters every spring because of the absence of defensive backs. Only a couple defensive backs have participated in those workouts, and according to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, the heaviest presence from the defensive side of the ball has been at the linebacker position with Quincy Black and Tyrone McKenzie taking part in the loosely organized practices.
Instead of wide receivers like Mike Williams and Sammie Stroughter competing against cornerbacks like Ronde Barber and E.J. Biggers like they would during OTAs at One Buccaneer Place, what Freeman is doing with the receivers more closely resembles offensive installation periods during practice during the week or pre-game warm-ups on Sundays. Although ESPN.com reports that cornerback Aqib Talib has been attending a couple workouts to help do some one-on-one drills against receivers.
Biggers said that the defensive backs have not organized any workouts yet as a unit, and did not suggest that would take place during the NFL lockout.
“I know that Josh has been working out with the receivers,” Biggers said. “I talk to Sam all the time and I’ve talked to Arrelious [Benn] a few times. I’m glad they are doing what they are doing. It’s not mandatory, but they are putting it upon themselves to do that. I’ve talked to [Micheal] Spurlock and a couple of other guys and they’ve told me they are up in Tampa working out with Josh. If Josh asked me to come, I’m there. I know he’s reached out to the receivers. No matter where guys are working out, I know everybody on the team is working out hard on their own and trying to stay in the groove and be ready for when the lockout ends.”
Biggers, who is a South Florida native, has been training with more non-Buccaneers players than teammates this offseason.
“Right now I’ve been working out in Miami with the guy I trained with before the draft,” Biggers said. “I’m down here with a lot of other NFL guys – a lot of guys that come down here and train every year. There have been a couple guys from Tampa down here working out, too – Myron [Lewis] and Kyle Moore.
“We’re doing position drills, strength and conditioning, lifting weights – we’re kind of doing it all right now. We’re getting chiropractic stuff in and massages – whatever we need to get into shape.”
While Tampa Bay’s receivers haven’t been doing one-on-ones against defensive backs in Freeman’s workouts, Biggers is doing cornerback drills and covering some of the better receivers in the league.
“Right now, Wes Welker is down here along with Mohamed Massaquoi and a couple guys that got drafted, including Torrey Smith,” Biggers said. “Antonio Brown from the Steelers and Greg Camarillo [from the Dolphins] are working out down here, too.”
After spending his rookie season in 2009 on injured reserve, Biggers had a breakthrough year in 2010 after earning the nickel cornerback job in training camp, recording 53 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception and 12 pass breakups. Biggers had six starts at left cornerback for the Bucs last year opposite Ronde Barber, five of which came in place of Aqib Talib, who was suspended for the season opener and placed on injured reserve for the final four games of the 2010 season.
With Talib facing an indictment on felony aggravated assault charges that stemmed from a domestic incident in Garland, Tex. in March, Biggers could continue to see action in the starting lineup for Tampa Bay if Talib winds up in jail or is suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell because of the arrest.
“I really don’t know too much about the situation, but Aqib has taught me almost everything I know out there,” Biggers said. “I tell everybody that he and Ronde are probably two of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Aqib can run with anybody and he can stick with bigger receivers and he can stick with smaller, quick receivers, too. He’s probably one of the most athletic DBs I’ve ever seen. Just watching him and listening to him, he has one of the smartest football I.Q.s I’ve ever been around. He’s just like Ronde.”
Biggers took time to defend Talib’s character, saying that he is one of the most helpful teammates on the Buccaneers roster.
“He’s a great guy,” Biggers said. “I remember my first practice with the Bucs coming in my rookie year. I was just helping out as a ‘look’ receiver and Aqib was going over everything about how my stance should be and how my hands should be and where they should be placed – all the details and the little things like that. You wouldn’t think that a guy like that would be helping a rookie on his first day, but that’s what he was doing. When he was hurt last year and I was in for him he was telling me at all times what I should be doing and helping me out. If I have any questions, I could always go to Aqib or Ronde.
“Aqib is a guy I love to death in the locker room and on the field. He’s a good player, a team player. He helps us and helps anybody who needs his help. I know some people think differently about him, but to me, I love that guy to death on and off the field. I can’t speak too much about his situation because I don’t know enough about it, but he’s one of the premier corners in the NFL. He’s going to be a Pro Bowl guy. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.”
Just how soon Biggers sees Talib will largely rest on the outcome of his trial in Texas. In the meantime, Biggers and Lewis, last year’s third-round pick, are preparing hard to step up their play in 2011 in case Talib is unable to play for some or all of the upcoming season.
“Myron and I work out together a lot and I tell him, ‘It’s time for us to show them what we can do, and we have to go do it,’” Biggers said. “We have one year under our belts and it’s like Coach Rah tells us, ‘It’s time to take off the skirts and be men and help the team as much as we can and do the stuff that Ronde has been doing for umpteenth years.’”
While Biggers prepares for his second season of real playing time and perhaps a larger role on defense depending on the outcome of Talib’s trial, he stays in touch with his teammates via Twitter and texts and is proud that all of his fellow Buccaneers are working out hard on their own this offseason.
“It trickles down from our general manager to our head coach to our position coach,” Biggers said. “Everybody is doing their job right now. We’re not all working together as the NFL right now, but you still have a job to do and everybody is still doing it separately. We just want to be ready for when the time comes we can continue to build on what we started last year.
“There’s nothing we can do about the lockout except to try to stay in shape and work out and doing the same things we would be doing if we were at One Buc Place.”
Biggers has a personal history with new Bucs teammate Anthony Gaitor, who is a Miami native, and like Biggers, was drafted in the seventh round. The two played against each other in basketball growing up. Biggers has reached out to the rookie and plans on getting together with Gaitor, who was a four-year starter at Florida International, and working out with his fellow cornerback soon.
“We don’t have a playbook right now, but I’ve talked to him a couple times and I’ve told him a couple of things we do,” Biggers said. “I have to get down there and talk to him and go down and see him. He stays about 15-20 minutes away from where I stay. I’m going to get with him and let him know the things we do. I don’t think it will be a problem for him because of his talent and how smart he is. He’s very smart, just like Ronde.”
Until the lockout ends, it looks like that may be the only other instance of Tampa Bay’s defensive backs working out together as a unit.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.