Tampa Bay safety Chris Conte is one of the most misunderstood Buccaneers on the roster. Unfairly compared to former Bucs safety Sabby Piscitelli because of the physical resemblance, Conte hasn’t exactly been a fan favorite in Tampa Bay because of a reputation that followed him from his days in Chicago. But his pick-six against the Bears last year was the catalyst for a defensive turnaround that fueled the Bucs to a 6-2 finish and a 9-7 record. Tampa Bay fans began to really appreciate Conte’s play when his end zone interception at Kansas City in the fourth quarter led to Tampa Bay’s comeback win at Arrowhead.
Conte was re-signed to a two-year deal in the offseason as the Bucs chose him over Bradley McDougald, who signed with Seattle in free agency. While newcomers J.J. Wilcox and Justin Evans, the team’s second-round pick, will provide competition, Conte enters training camp as the starting free safety next to strong safety Keith Tandy, who was tied for the lead in interceptions with four. Now it’s up to Conte to keep the rookie and the former Dallas Cowboy at bay.
It’s been a busy this offseason as Conte and his girlfriend, former Buccaneers Cheerleader Stephanie Everett, are expecting a child and he bought a house in Tampa where they plan to call home after his football career is over. But with the offseason in the books and training camp is here, follow Conte on his journey to improve as a player, keep his starting job and help get the Bucs into the playoffs in his Training Camp Diary on PewterReport.com.
DeSEAN IS MOTIVATED, HARD TO STOP By Chris Conte as told to Mark Cook If you sit around on your day off and you aren’t active I feel like all the inflammation just hits you. I did some yoga and did some recovery stuff. Sometimes you can almost sleep too much on your day off and you’re a little sluggish the next day. It all kind of adds up and then if you sit around too much it makes it harder to get back into it.
Bucs S Chris Conte – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Having the cryo chambers I’ve noticed I probably do a lot more recovery stuff now than I did earlier on in my career. I don’t know. I don’t remember being any more or less sore. I remember in Bourbonnais, Illinois we had to do a lot more walking. To meetings, upstairs, walking to the dorm rooms and stuff, but here we pretty much drive to the hotel and use the elevator. Here we’re off our feet a lot more. Maybe that is a difference, who knows? I feel pretty good right now. Today I’m a little tired, but besides that I feel pretty good.
I think getting the pads on was good for us. I kind of wish we did a little live stuff every once in a while because you need to get used to tackling and bringing guys to the ground. In college we hit every single day and you were a lot more sore, but I think everyone was a lot better tackler in college because we worked on it a lot more. It’s either you get banged up or you have to visualize and do the drills and work on it as much as you can without beating your body up.
Our new safety, J.J. Wilcox, has played a lot of football. He is an experienced player. He is still picking up the system. He has showed flashes of the things he can do with a couple of picks. It’s a system that takes time to get used to, but he has done very well so far in camp.
While it might look like more, the blitzes we’ve shown in practices are the same. It is just working on different stuff and by game week things change. Right now it’s just putting everything in. Everything we are doing now is based off our installs. So, what you see is what we’ve installed so far. Nothing you see here will tell you what we’re going to run during the season.
On the offensive side we have a lot of talent. Having an offensive-minded coach like Dirk Koetter, obviously he wants to bring in some offensive weapons so the offense can do the things he wants to do. We have a lot of guys that can stretch the field and make plays. It will be fun to watch this offense when they are executing at a high level.
For a rookie Chris Godwin is a very good receiver and you can tell he has good hands and body control. He runs great routes. He is going to be a great player for us and I think he has impressed everybody with what he has done so far in camp.
Bucs WR DeSean Jackson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I played with DeSean Jackson at Cal. I was playing corner then and I got to guard him a good amount. There’s nothing you can do against a guy who’s that fast. You just have to play him differently because you can’t wait and turn on a guy like that like you can against someone else. He’s just going to blow past you. The speed thing is just another dimension. It’s something you can’t really game plan for – a guy that can just run by defenses. I think he’s really going to help our team.
I really haven’t seen him much since Cal, but in talking with him I think he’s in a really good spot mentally and maturity-wise. He seems really focused. He was working out a lot this offseason. He’s determined and I think he wants to come in here and make plays and really help our team. It’s exciting to see him really motivated like that because the guy is talented. When DeSean is motivated he’s really hard to stop.
I think we have a lot of work that we have to get done before we are ready to go play another team. You want to get in there and be physical and play in those games, but we still need time to work on our stuff and get better as a unit. We will be ready to go when it is time to strap it up and go hit somebody else.
Follow veteran Buccaneers free safety Chris Conte on Twitter at @WhiteUnicorn23.
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.
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 email@example.com
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