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.
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.
NIGHT PRACTICE PREPARED ME FOR FRIDAY’S PRESEASON OPENERI got to experience my first night practice at Raymond James Stadium on Friday. It was crazy. We had tens of thousands of fans come out. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I thought it was only going to be a couple thousand, but the crowd was great. It was a good practice for us, so it was a good time.
I got to score my first rushing touchdown on Friday night. It was a 5-yard run down there by the goal line. It was great to get into the end zone and to fire the cannons. It was a great experience because it was a game-type situation at full-game speed. I rarely get in around the goal line unless we are in hurry-up and I’m already in the game and we happen to call that play. Whenever my number is called I try to make the most of it.
The touchdown was in between the tackles, which is unusual for me. I got to do a little bobbing and weaving and a little toughness down there by the goal line.
The night practice was really good, but it was also good having a day off. We got to watch some film, get some treatment and a break. I got to hang out with my girlfriend, Loreal Smith, for a while. She coaches track in Los Angeles at the University of Southern Cal, so she came down to visit. I got to hang out with her Friday night after practice and Saturday.
I’ve known her since I was a sophomore in college. She went to North Carolina A&T and ran track. My college track coach, Mike Holloway, is her godfather, and he was training her and that’s how I met her. I met her in football season and I don’t know if she knew I was a track star at the time. We were really good friends at first and it kind of went from there.
I’ve had some time off from returning kicks, but today I got the chance to return some and it was pretty exciting for me. We worked on catching the ball on the run and just hitting it. I felt pretty good doing it. It was fun and whenever you get the chance to do it you have to make the most of it and do it to the best of your ability.
I got hit pretty good by one of our safeties, Bradley McDougald. He knocked me to the ground during our team period. I didn’t see him when I was trying to cut. I think I needed one or two yards and I cut back right into him and he gave me a good hit. I thought I had the first down, but I was short.
I had a pretty good today for me in practice outside of that. I had a couple of good runs and some nice catches for a first down. Physically, I feel pretty good. I have some nicks and dings that I nurse up in the training room, but my body is holding up well for me eight days in.
Last night, my roommate Bobby Rainey and I were watching some of the Pro Football Hall of Fame speeches and we were getting a kick out of some of those. Just listening the Hall of Famers tell their stories about the locker room and the things they went through, Bobby and I got a kick out of that.
I grew up a Bucs fan in this area. I remember watching Mike Alstott, Warrick Dunn, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. It was great to see Derrick get into the Hall of Fame last night as the third member of the organization. Being a Buccaneer, you feel like you are all part of the family. Just seeing Derrick get in motivates all of us Buccaneers with the hard work that he’s put in. He deserves that gold jacket. It was great seeing Warren go in the year before, and hopefully Tony Dungy and John Lynch are the next to go with Ronde Barber not too far behind.
One of the reasons why Bobby and I get along as roommates is because he’s a neat freak. I’m a neat freak, too. Everything has to have its place in our room. We have to have everything organized. If anything is messy I just can’t function. He’s the same way.
Bobby and I are looking forward to our game on Friday night in Jacksonville. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a live game situation because I got injured last year in the Eagles game. But this training camp has really prepared me for the physical play that I’ll see in the regular season and on the game Friday night.
I know I might see more action in the first and fourth preseason game on offense and maybe in all four on special teams. It’s kind of tough staying warmed up on the sidelines, but you have to make your reps count. I may not have a lot of reps where I can really get warmed up, so I might have to make something happen as soon as I get in because I don’t know how many looks I’ll get. On Friday night I’ve got to jump in and not miss a beat – just like last Friday’s night practice.
Follow Jeff Demps’ Training Camp Diary exclusively on PewterReport.com and follow Demps 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: [email protected]
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