Tampa Bay rookie tight end Antony Auclair was one of the most sought after undrafted free agents by Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. In fact, the Bucs had a draftable grade on Auclair and were thrilled when he signed with the team because they wanted another “F” tight end – a tight end that could block and catch as opposed to a “Y” tight end like Cameron Brate, who is primarily a receiving tight end. Dirk Koetter’s offense features two- and three-tight end sets quite often, and with veteran Luke Stocker, who is 29, entering his seventh season in the league, finding two tight ends that could block was crucial for the future of the position, which is why Auclair, who is very physical blocker, was signed even though the Bucs spent a first-round pick on tight end O.J. Howard.
Auclair, who has a thick French-Canadian accent, isn’t your typical tight end. He hails from Notre-Dame-des-Pins in Québec, Canada where he played at Laval Université where he caught 17 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Auclair had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in Laval’s 31-26 win over Calgary in the Vanier Cup, which is the equivalent of the National Championship Game in American college football. While he was ranked as the second overall pick in the Canadian Football League, Auclair always had his sights set on playing in the National Football League.
The Bucs were one of many teams to travel to Canada for his pro day after he opened a lot of eyes at the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. in mid-January. Despite a hamstring injury, Auclair ran a 4.82 in the 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times. Now that he’s in Tampa, Auclair has the challenge of quickly learning the game of American football and fighting for a roster spot with Alan Cross and Tevin Westbrook behind Brate, Howard and Stocker on the depth chart. Follow Auclair’s journey into NFL football in Tampa Bay in his Training Camp Diary exclusively on PewterReport.com – and learn to speak French-Canadian, too.
IT’S ALWAYS NICE TO END WITH A TD By Antony Auclair as told to Scott Reynolds
Salut! Friday was [expletive] hot! I really enjoyed my day off (on Tuesday). It was great. My dad and uncle had come to see me and we went to The Cheesecake Factory, which we don’t have in Quebec. It was great. I think my dad and uncle really enjoyed it.
Bucs TE Antony Auclair – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
We are one week into training camp and I think I do a good job recovering my body. It’s really just mentally hard. I’ve had some mistakes I don’t usually have. I think the hardest part is mentally, not physically. It’s hot, too. It’s not that hot up in Canada.
I had one drop in practice [on Friday]. The pass hit me right in the hands. Those things happen when you wait too long for the ball and you lose concentration a little bit. I was open and I was waiting for a long time and just dropped it, man.
I had another drop, but that play was kind of messed up. On the other drop, (quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick) Fitz got me with his eyes. I was watching him and he was looking down the field and threw me the ball unexpectedly and I was like, ‘[expletive]!’ It just passed my head.
I did have a nice catch in the seam and I scored a touchdown at the end of practice. In football you have to make up for earlier mistakes. It’s always nice to end with a touchdown in our red zone drills. I took a shot on that TD. I think it was Isaiah Johnson, but I’m not sure. He had a good hit on me, but I held on to the ball. I think I did a good job with that. That might have been the hardest shot I’ve taken so far.
After that, I had a nice block and the running back ran it in for a TD. I did some nice things today. I had some good blocks, had some good routes, and I made two catches with one for a touchdown, but the drops can’t happen.
Our linebackers are good. They are all good and it’s tough to get separation. Kwon Alexander is obviously doing a great job, but it is hard to say who is the best in coverage because they are all good.
I know all of the guys in the tight end room, but I’m making other friends on the team, too. I’ve been talking to Derel Walker, a wide receiver. He played in Canada, so we connected a little bit. He is a good guy. He’s had a good day today and [Thursday]. He is balling out.
It was great to get to see Jon Gruden on Wednesday I knew some stuff about him. I knew he coached the Bucs back in the day and beat the Oakland Raiders – his old team, which was funny – in the Super Bowl. He is a great guy, a good preacher, and I enjoyed his speech.
His message was to enhance your talents every day. Come in here and work hard. Come here before practice and stay after practice. Work on the stuff you do wrong and enhance your talent. He is a great preacher. It shows that he likes to talk in front of people.
Gruden’s message was to be like Cam Brate. I have to follow Cam. He is working so hard. Like Gruden said, he is enhancing his talent and it shows. Cam comes here 30 minutes before practice and stays at least 30 minutes after. So, I’ve been following him and running routes after practice, catching balls, and doing some extra work on the sleds. It’s helping me to get better.
Bucs TE Antony Auclair and Ben Steele – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Cam is a great guy to learn from. He’s like our Coach Ben Steele. He is a hard worker, too. He is going to push us hard every day. We come out here at 8:25 a.m. to start work and practice starts at 9:00 a.m. So we come here and work hard every day – even before practice starts.
It’s training camp so there are going to be a lot of mistakes. It’s a process. Sometimes Coach [Dirk] Koetter gets mad. We have to do the right thing, especially on offense, which is his side of the ball. Sometimes there are stupid mistakes, like jumping off sides. We’ve got to pick it up on our side because the defense is playing great. For sure he is not going to be happy with everything we are doing right now. We want to be world class. We want to be great.
Auclair’s French-Canadian Word Of The Day
I’m also going to teach you some French-Canadian in my Bucs Training Camp Diary on PewterReport.com. Here’s today’s phrase is – Qu’est-ce qu’on mange? It’s a French way of saying, “What are we going to eat?” in English. Here is a way to ask a question in French.
Follow Bucs rookie tight end Antony Auclair on Twitter at @auclair81
The next Auclair Bucs Training Camp Diary will be posted in a few days. 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.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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