Tampa Bay running back Jeff Demps enters the Buccaneers’ 2014 training camp trying to win a roster spot by using his world-class speed to make an impact on offense and special teams. Demps, an Olympic sprinter who is known as the fast man in the NFL, is in the mix for playing time at running back, which might feature the toughest competition of all the positions in Tampa Bay, and he is vying to be the team’s kick returner in 2014.
Over the next month, the former Florida Gators star gives PewterReport.com an exclusive look into his training camp battle with other talented Buccaneers in Jeff Demps’ Training Camp Diary as told to Scott Reynolds.
BUCS TRAINING CAMP BEGINS by Jeff DempsI’m really excited about this training camp.
The summer has been going good for me. I’ve gotten a lot of good work in as far as training and getting myself prepared for training camp. I’ve been back and forth between here and home training with Dennis Mitchell and my buddy, Nate Keller. He’s got a gym and I’ve gotten a couple of good workouts in with him. I haven’t worked out with my teammates this summer, but I’m excited to see them.
I’ve been doing a different kind of training this offseason, which is my first without running track. When I was getting ready for track season it was about leaning down and everything was straight ahead – all my runs were sprints. There wasn’t any cutting or any misdirection work like there is in football. There isn’t any of that in track. Now I’m working on a whole set of muscles and strengthening those muscles. When you train for football you have to train every muscle in your body. I’ve been able to put on some size and muscle, which will help prepare for the season.
I haven’t really set too many goals for myself this year. I want to take it one step at a time and make the roster. I just want to go out there and win every day. I know it’s going to be a tough battle. We have some talented backs. I just want to do what I have to do day in and day out.
I think we have a lot of great players in Bobby Rainey, Doug Martin, Mike James, Charles Sims, the rookie – the whole group is really talented. I think we are going to push each other to the max day in and day out, but we’ll also bring each other up when guys have a tough time. We’ll motivate each other. It’s going to be a tough battle for everyone, but it’s friendly competition. Each one of us will bring the best out of each other.
Jeff Tedford, our new offensive coordinator, is a real straightforward guy. He puts the work in and he expects us to put the work in, too. That’s what you need to be successful in his offense. He gets speed in space and it’s a lot different from last year. He’ll be able to get us in space, making plays.
The offense is based on speed, and obviously I’m a good fit. If I’m able to do what I’m supposed to do I know I can contribute. I know the playbook. This offense is made for fast guys like myself, and I think it can be pretty exciting for Bucs fans to see.
I like to be in space and get that one-on-one match-up with a linebacker or a safety and really use my speed to get open. I really enjoy stuff like that. I’ve been working a lot on my hands so I can be a running back that can catch the ball and have that type of role in this offense. In the open field I can really do some damage.
Josh McCown is a great, great quarterback. He’s a tremendous leader. He might be under the radar, but once camp starts or the season starts, the fans will see what we’ve seen. To be honest, I wasn’t really too familiar with him when he got here, but since the first day I’ve been wowed. He’s really, really good. I can’t believe he’s been a backup in the NFL. He should be a starter. He’s a great guy, a great leader and a great quarterback. He’s everything you want in a QB.
I think Josh throws the ball the way he needs to depending on your route or the way defenders are on you. He’s not trying to bullet the ball in there all the time. He puts a certain touch on it, but he has a strong arm. Josh throws a very catchable ball and he’s very accurate. The fans will get a chance to see that at camp.
I’ve been catching some punts and catching some kicks and I’ve also been on punt return and kickoff return at different places. Just working with special teams coach Kevin O’Dea is a great. I was with Urban Meyer for a while at the University of Florida and I thought Urban was the best special teams coach ever. We blocked punts and kicks and had a great return game at Florida.
When our new coach came in here it was on that same kind of level. O’Dea brings that energy to the special teams units that we need. I really think the special teams units set the tone for the game. For him to bring that energy and that excitement to the special teams, I know we can be the best. I love playing for him.
I can see myself playing a lot of special teams. That’s how I’ll make the team. Whatever jobs they ask me to do I’m going to do them to the best of my ability. If it’s blocking punts or returning kicks, I’ll do whatever I can to help the team.
There’s nothing like home. For me, as a Florida native who played in Gainesville, I still have that Gator nation fan base behind me, and I’m picking up that Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan base, too. It’s great for me. I’m not too far from where I grew up. I have a lot of family and friends that will be able to come and watch me play. I love the fact that I’m playing in my home state.
I’ve been hurt the last two years and haven’t gotten to play much. I’m really looking forward to this year because it’s going to be different. I’m caught up on offense, not behind like I was the last two years after running track. I’m committed to football and I’m in football shape.
Hey Bucs fans, I’m looking forward to seeing you guys out there at training camp. Thanks for all the support. Follow my Training Camp Diary on PewterReport.com and follow me on Twitter at @jeffdemps7
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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