The Tampa Bay Buccaneers conducted their third and final rookie mini-camp practice at One Buccaneer Place on Sunday morning.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden came away from the three practices impressed with the effort. In fact, he had some kind words for several players, including a few of Tampa Bay’s 2006 draft picks.
“The right guard looked like he played football in the league before,” Gruden said regarding first-round pick, Davin Joseph. “He looked natural, he looked instinctive. He’s not perfect, but I thought he did an excellent job. I thought [offensive tackle Jeremy] Trueblood made a real good transition to right tackle. [Wide receiver Maurice] Stovall made a couple real acrobatic plays again today. [Cornerback Alan] Zemaitis, much like we thought, is a very instinctive, reliable football player who has a ways to go but I do believe he fits our structure and he’s going to be a good player.”
Tampa Bay had 28 tryout players on hand for the three-day rookie mini-camp, and because of the fact that the Bucs’ offseason roster is only allowed to have 87 players (including the NFL Europe exemptions) on it, the team will be hard pressed to sign many of the tryout players to contracts.
Gruden said the Bucs would announce the signings of tryout players to contracts sometime next week, but that’s only if any are signed at all.
Still, the first-year players and 10 draft picks that took part in Tampa Bay’s rookie mini-camp most likely will be invited to Orlando for training camp. Gruden sent a clear message to those players in terms of what he expects them to do between now and training camp, which begins in late July.
“I hope they study the material,” Gruden said. ” I hope they pick up the conditioning. Many of the guys are not from the tropics here. They are not used to the humidity. They thought it was hot today. They have no idea what a 112 (degree) heat index is going to be like in Orlando and if you can’t compete full speed in this heat then you can’t earn a job here. I hope they pick up their conditioning, watch their diet and make it a full time job.”
Most of Tampa Bay’s players will have the opportunity to get better acclimated to both their playbook and the hot and humid conditions in a few weeks. The Bucs are scheduled to begin voluntary organized team activity workouts on May 16.
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