When Bucs guard Alex Cappa hopped off the field on one foot last Saturday night in Washington, it didn’t look too serious initially. At least for someone like Cappa, who finished a game last season with a fractured arm. Turns out Cappa’s injury will cost him the playoffs as he suffered a fractured ankle. As tough as he is, playing with a fractured ankle was even too much for the Bucs third-year guard from Humboldt State.
Bucs RG Alex Cappa – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
With no Cappa, Tampa Bay turned to veteran Ted Larsen to fill in and the journeyman struggled in protection for many of his reps against Washington. Now for this week’s game at New Orleans, the Buccaneers will turn to the young and inexperienced Aaron Stinnie who will get his first career start.
Stinnie spoke to media on Thursday and said he is confident he can fill in, while hopefully helping the Buccaneers reach the NFC Championship game.
“To do this, when you’re in that backup role, you’re pretty much preparing the whole year for a moment like this,” Stinnie said. “You always want to prepare yourself as though you are going to be the starter that week so that there is no surprise or shock to yourself when that moment [comes] that you have to go in. So, I’ve definitely been preparing for a while. As far as this week, I’m definitely trying to dive [deeper] into things, but it’s kind of just sticking with the same routine and program that I’ve been doing. I feel like what I’ve been doing all year long has been preparing me mentally and physically for the game, so I’m just trying to keep with those roots on it.”
While Stinnie is thankful for an opportunity to showcase his abilities, he hated to see it come at the expense of his friend and teammate.
“It’s like mixed emotions when that happens because ‘Cap’ – that’s my homeboy,” Stinnie said. “I hate to see him go down, but I want to be able to go out there and do him proud. I’m definitely excited for the first start – to be able to go out there and do what I can. I want to help put my hand in the pile and fill in.”
Center Ryan Jensen said on Thursday that Stinnie, while inexperienced, has had two great teachers to learn from.
“My first start came in, I think, Week 12 of my third year. Stinnie is a pro and he’s continually trying to get better throughout practice,” Jensen said. “Being a young guard and being able to watch Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa – who has really come along the last two years – it teaches you a lot sitting behind those guys [about] how to do the job, how to approach game week and stuff like that. Stinnie has been doing that. He wants to get better every day and he has gotten better. I have the utmost confidence in Aaron stepping in.”
Bucs G Aaron Stinnie – Photo by: USA Today
Stinnie agreed with Cappa that despite not seeing many game-action reps, he has learned from the guys he’s watched week in and week out.
“I’ve learned a ton from both of them,” Stinnie said. “They’re great guys to learn under. Each of them has a ton of knowledge, a ton of experience and they’re both really great players. I like to pick both of their brains as much as I can, learning different techniques [and] different styles. It’s insane the amount of knowledge and technique that I’ve been able to learn from them – just different things that can arise here and there in the game and just in practice. It’s been awesome to be able to learn from them.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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