It hasn’t taken long for Giovani Bernard to make a good impression in front of his new coaches. Bernard has been off to the races since joining the Bucs, looking to build as much continuity as he can with all the teammates he’ll be working with.
He’s balanced working with Tom Brady and all the Bucs’ starters on their own time one day. The next, he’s at OTAs to understand the playbook while getting reps in with quarterbacks Kyle Trask and Ryan Griffin. Bernard is the longest tenured NFL veteran at OTAs right now. He’s setting a precedent of work ethic and effort for the younger players around him.
The addition of Bernard to the Bucs’ backfield has been a welcoming one to say the least.
“He’s a pro,” Bucs’ offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. “Anytime you can add a guy like that in any room – we got a nine-year guy who’s played at a high level, who’s made plays, who’s been involved in important football games, who’s been in playoff games. He’s been in a lot of tough situations, right, that type of guy is always going to help your football team. I think the thing that’s impressive of him so far in this short period of time, you really only have to tell him something once. You tell him once, he gets it, he’s able to execute it and operate it, which let’s you know he’s been around a lot of good football.
“He’s a really smart football player, let alone his ability of what he can do from an attribute standpoint, a skill set, his ability to think on the run, be able to maneuver and do the things you got to do from that position, to make the decisions that you have to make with that position, it’s been great so far. He’s been doing a hell of a job for us just in the passing game, in the run game, being a pro and doing the things that we need our running backs to do.”
It’s not just that Bernard has showed up, it’s that he arrived ready to play. There was a recent photo of Bernard’s physique that hit the rounds on social media. It caused a buzz that he looked better than ever. There’s a lot of optimistic expectations for him this year. His imprint on the team early on has many confident in what he’ll bring to the Bucs’ offense.
“He is a professional through and through,” said assistant coach Harold Goodwin. “He came in ready to go and it’s good to have him here right now trying to learn the offense. I know the situation where he can be over there with Tom [Brady], but for him to be over here trying to get the playbook down is exciting to all of us. He’s showing what he can do.”
When Pewter Report was at the only OTA available to the media on Tuesday, Bernard was the only back there. Notably missing was Ke’Shawn Vaughn, which Bruce Arians wasn’t happy about him voluntarily missing time as he elected to workout with Brady and others instead.
“Ke’Shawn decided to work out with those guys,” Arians said on Tuesday. “That’s their choice, but hopefully he’ll make a better decision tomorrow.”
It seems that Vaughn got the message. As Greg Auman pointed out, Vaughn was pictured among the Bucs’ photo gallery on Wednesday, proving he returned to OTAs.
On Tuesday, Bruce Arians said he hoped running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn would make a better decision and attend the Bucs' voluntary OTA workout on Wednesday. By this pic from Bucs' photo gallery, he was in attendance: pic.twitter.com/ttibBa85Y9
Vaughn has an uphill climb to see the field this season. He’ll be the fourth running back on the depth chart behind Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette and Bernard. Meanwhile, Vaughn didn’t participate much on special teams. It will be tough for him to find a role there as the Bucs emphasized improving the unit this offseason.