It’s often said that a bubble-player’s odds of making the final 53 are dependent upon his performance on special teams, though nothing guarantees an opportunity for something more than just that.
For the Bucs, Russell Shepard has been “that guy.” Since making the team in 2013, he’s become an integral part of the kicking unit with 29 solo tackles as evidence. But don’t expect him to return to his original position too often. The former LSU wide receiver will remain primarily at where he’s been successful.
Bucs WR Russell Shepard – Photo by: Getty Images
“I think you’re always going to hope that (Shepard), if you have five guys up on game day, he’s probably going to be the number five (wide receiver),” head coach Dirk Koetter said at the owners meetings Wednesday. “I don’t mean any disrespect on that because Shep came in and played his role last year; he did what he was asked to do. But I think as just a pure receiver, you’re always going to be looking for better. Again, that’s not a knock on him. I think he’s a really good football player and a heck of a special teams player.”
Koetter praised Shepard’s work ethic, calling him “try-hard guy” who goes full-speed at all times. It’s likely Tampa Bay will keep a wide receiver spot open for him again next year so he can reprise his role as a special teams ace and alternate on offense.
One player whose future with the team seems a bit more uncertain is second-year wide receiver Kenny Bell. Last year’s fifth-round draft pick came in with (probably unfair) expectations to win the third wide receiver role, but a hamstring injury in training camp sent him to IR before the season started.
While Koetter was impressed with Bell’s fast start in camp and dedication in the film room throughout the season, he acknowledged that Adam Humphries and Donteea Dye have a leg-up on him due to their experience.
“I just think it’s too early on Kenny,” Koetter said. “He’s starting off behind Adam and Dee right now because those guys, just by ability to hang in there, got valuable playing time. But I think Kenny has a shot.”
For a player who caught 181 passes for 2,689 yards at Nebraska, Bell has certainly shown capability as a speed receiver who can stretch the field. Coming into camp fully healthy, and even more prepared this time around, the second-year pro could make it an interesting battle for one of the final wide receiver spots on the roster.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Talk about a player with two many drops. Dye certainly fits that bill with me and in critical situations as well.
Humphries only dropped one ball last year that I remember and it would have come back anyway because of a penalty.
Bell, if he can hold onto the ball in training camp and in preseason, can certainly beat out the dropsy Dye.
+ 1 on Dye dropping the ball a lot. He did not impress me at all.
I love the competition. Go Bucs!
Isn’t it refreshing when a coach is a bit more forthcoming than the typical babble? Watched Bell a lot at practice last Training Camp. He seemed to be pressing. Would like Pink’s assessment. He has some obvious talent and I love the Link hairdo. (For you youngsters, Link was a guy with a huge Afro in the TV show Mod Squad)Looking forward to Training Camp to see who stands out.
Who didn’t love hippie chick Peggy Lipton? If Dye has a leg up on Bell we wasted a 5th round pick.
Peggy Lipton had lips that could…oh well, never mind.
Lincoln Hayes I believe was the characters full name, aka as Clarence Williams the III,
Tige Andrews played their supervisor.
I’m sure a better understanding of Geometry would have better served me in life, but unfortunately my ADHD only allowed me to fantasize about Mary Ellen Rodgers sitting next to me in class with that short skirt.
Those damn teenage hormones.
Mary Ellen Rodgers indeed. Wonder what her Beaver looked like.
Humphries had some of the best hands on the team last season. He deserves a shot at the slot /3 wr group.
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