The Bucs Training Camp Diaries are an annual feature on PewterReport.com and we have two gems this year in veteran nose tackle Beau Allen, who will give PewterReport.com readers insight into the Bucs defense during training camp and the preseason, and rookie running back Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay’s second-round pick, who will offer his perspective on the offensive side of the ball.
Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht needed to revamp the defensive line this offseason and the first free agent addition was signing Allen, fresh off winning the Super Bowl with the world champion Philadelphia Eagles. Allen, who was a run-stuffing role player in Philly, enters Bucs training camp as the starting nose tackle next to six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. At 6-foot-3, 327 pounds, Allen has the size and power to not only be a force against the run, but also collapse the pocket. Playing primarily on first and second downs, Allen notched 87 tackles and two sacks in his four years with Philadelphia, and had 20 tackles and a sack last year as the Eagles won their first Super Bowl.
Playing in the pass-happy NFC South, Allen looks to get to the quarterback more often as a Buccaneer, as the likes of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton often pass the ball on first and second downs. While Allen’s roster spot is assured due to his three-year, $15 million contract that features $7.25 million in guaranteed money, he is fighting for playing time in Tampa Bay’s defensive line rotation. Follow Allen’s first training camp in Tampa Bay in his Training Camp Diary exclusively on PewterReport.com, as he and the team’s ultra-talented defensive line look to come together, rush the passer and get the Bucs into the playoffs in 2018.
WE HAVE A STABLE OF AWESOME D-LINEMEN
As told to Scott Reynolds
I’m really excited to start training camp. You have the five-week break in the summer, but you’re just ready for it to start. This was the shortest offseason for me just coming off the Super Bowl. Then I got into free agency and got settled down here in Tampa with the start of OTAs and the mini-camp, so I’m excited to get with the guys and get out on the practice field and start the season.
Coach Buck (Brentson Bucker) is big on having a rotation with all of us defensive linemen. I’m never ever going to knock a D-line rotation. In fact, we had a good defensive line last year in Philadelphia and I think the rotation was a big part of it. We had a lot of good guys and I think there are a ton of advantages to get different guys out there fresh and playing with their hair on fire, and giving teams different looks, too.
I’m a different football player than Mitch Unrein and Gerald McCoy and Vinny Curry and Noah Spence. Getting fresh bodies out there and giving offensive linemen different looks and keep guys rolling through is a really good thing. I’ve done a lot of that in my career, but like every football player on our team I want to play as much as possible. So within the rotation you get guys battling for reps and playing time – that’s the nature of the game of football. That’s how it is at the high school level. That’s how it is in college, and in the NFL – and that’s never going to change. You have to earn your playing time no matter whether you are an undrafted free agent rookie or a veteran free agent that signed here in the offseason.
More importantly in the rotation, you can put guys in situations that they are good in. I’m different than Gerald, so put me on the field doing what I’m good at. I’m excited about a lot of the different looks that we are going to have on defense and sharing the wealth in the defensive line room. There are a lot of new faces from Coach Buck all the way down to our rookie No. 1 draft pick in Vita Vea. It’s exciting and we are all getting to know each other and figure it all out, and there’s no better place to that than in an NFL training camp.
I’m looking forward to getting more sacks this year. My role in Philadelphia was different than what it’s going to be here in Tampa Bay (as a starter) and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here. I’m looking forward to taking on a new role. This is really becoming a passing league, especially here in the NFC South. They throw the ball on first and second downs in this division, and I’m looking forward to that and showing everybody what I can do rushing the passer and how I can move.
I’ve really been impressed with Vita Vea, and not just his physical gifts. I’ve been impressed with his willingness to learn. Sometimes it’s frustrating with rookies because you get these guys that are obviously incredible athletes and they’ve done incredible things at the college level and they think they have all the answers. They come into the NFL and you’re like, “Hey man, this is a new ball game.”
But Vita has a willingness to learn and he has an open mind. He’s just a great dude. I want to quickly put to rest any notion that I was upset when Vita was drafted. I wasn’t upset at all. He’s a really good dude, a great athlete and a great talent. I’m excited to play with him. I’m going to be in there playing with him a lot and I’m excited to teach him whatever I can and every little trick I know. Selfishly, that helps me when he’s playing next to me, but more importantly, that helps us win football games. That’s really all I care about.
Vita wants to learn and be the best player he can be. When I was a rookie I was annoying and asked the vets all the questions I could. I’m a bit of a know-it-all, and he’s kind of the same way, which is great. He really wants to learn and I respect that about him.
I’ve been asked one question a lot over these last couple of months: How is my Super Bowl experience with the Eagles going to help the Buccaneers? Without giving away all my secrets, that’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot over the last few months. All joking aside, I’d rather not get into super, specific detail, but there is a reason why the Buccaneers sought me out and brought Vinny and I down here for the success we had in Philadelphia.
I think we had really good player-driven leadership and leadership from older guys in Philadelphia. That’s one of the things I’m going to challenge myself to do in Tampa Bay. We have a young team down here and I’m one of the older guys – and I’m only in my fifth year. Then you have guys like Fitz (QB Ryan Fitzpatrick) who is in his 30th year!
What I want to do is challenge myself, and one of the goals I’ve set for myself is to step outside my comfort zone and be more of a vocal leader. I’ve always been more of a grinder and a lunch pail kind of guy, leading more by example. I want to try to be more vocal, and if I see something I don’t like I’m going to speak up and say something about it. On the other side of the coin, if I see somebody doing a good job I’m going to call them out and give them praise. I am going to be one of those senior leaders that I admired early on in my career.
One of the guys I looked up to and had all the respect in the world for was Brent Celek. He was a tight end that retired last year. He was the best teammate I’ve ever had. He was incredibly unselfish and had kind of a declining role this past season. He was doing scout team reps trying to get our defense better at the end of his career. That’s one of the reasons why I have so much respect for him. He was willing to do the things that nobody else was willing to do to help the team.
I love Vinny and I can’t say enough about him as a player. We had that rotation going in Philadelphia and I’ve had a lot of snaps playing next to him and I’m really comfortable doing so. I can’t tell you how happy I am that he’s down here. Off the field, he’s very charismatic and he’s funny. He’s a really good storyteller. Vinny is very, very quick-twitch and he has a lot of awesome ability. I think he’s a tone-setter, but I don’t want to pigeonhole just Vinny that way. I think our entire D-line is that way. I think I’m one of those tone-setter guys, too. I think Gerald is, I think JPP is, and I think Mitch Unrein is.
Mitch is one of those guys that hasn’t necessarily gotten the love that he’s deserved in his career in the NFL. More importantly, coming down to Tampa Bay he’s going to be a key piece for us. You’ll see that soon.
I love Noah, too. My job is to help get guys in position to do what they are good at. Noah has great ability off the edge, so I’m going to do what I can to get him in position to rush the passer. He’s a really great, young player, and I’m going to do everything I can to help him along. I think he’s going to have a great year. He has an intensity about him that I really like.
It’s awesome having JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) down here. I feel like we have a stable of awesome defensive linemen. It’s great when I’m down in my stance that I can look down the line and see JPP, who is obviously a hell of a player, or it can be Noah or Vinny beside me, or other guys like Will Clarke or Will Gholston, who had a really good stretch of OTAs. On the other side of me it’s Gerald or Vita. We just have so many great defensive linemen I’m excited to see how we’re all going to be utilized.
I’m looking forward to going up against Ryan Jensen in camp. It’s funny because of my long hair I’ve been mistaken for Jensen a lot since I’ve been down here in Tampa, but I’ve put a quick end to that! Hey, he’s an offensive guy, and I’ve got to hold it down for the D-linemen!
After I got here, Tampa Bay signed Jensen and then we drafted another long-haired guy in Alex Cappa. I’m definitely sensing a trend here! Alex has a nice frame. I don’t like to say a whole lot about rookies, to be honest with you – especially offensive linemen. But I like what I’ve seen so far. He’s got that huge frame, quick feet and nice balance. Those are some of the most important things for an offensive lineman. I think he’s going to be a good, young player for us.
I appreciate all the love from the fans down here in Tampa Bay. It’s been awesome. I get out a lot, and I stayed in Tampa down here over the whole summer, so I got a lot of love from a lot of people as I got settled down in South Tampa, which was great.
So let’s get training camp started. I just want to say to all the Bucs fans, we feed off your energy. Come out to Ray-Jay, support all of us, cheer like crazy and let’s have a hell of a season together.
Follow Bucs veteran nose tackle Beau Allen on Twitter at @Beau_Allen
The next Allen Bucs Training Camp Diary will be posted in a few days as well as regular RoJo Bucs Training Camp Diaries. Be sure to visit PewterReport.com multiple times throughout the day during training camp for new stories and updates from practice live from One Buccaneer Place, and follow us on Twitter at @PewterReport.