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This is the fifth installment of Jeremy Zuttah’s Training Camp Diary, exclusively on PewterReport.com. Zuttah, the rookie offensive lineman who was Tampa Bay’s third-round pick, will be checking in with PewterReport.com three times per week with his thoughts on training camp and life in the NFL.
It was great seeing Mike Alstott and Warren Sapp out at practice. It was crazy because these were guys I grew up watching. I remember seeing them on TV when I was a kid. These are the legends of the Buccaneers. It’s a great feeling with a little bit of awe, too. I was like, “Man, that was Warren Sapp!” Sapp addressed the team and was just telling us that you have to handle your business in the NFL and that really starts this weekend.
I played with a guy at Rutgers who was compared a lot to Alstott. There were a few similarities between Alstott and Brian Leonard, who is a great athlete, but I think they were two different players.
My first preseason game is on Saturday. It’s a great feeling. I’ll get to put on that Buccaneers jersey for the first time and I get to crack somebody who isn’t one of my teammates. It will be a change of pace from camp, so that will be a good thing. There are a lot of similarities between our prep work and film study at Rutgers and here with the Buccaneers. The Dolphins have a new coaching staff, so that’s a little bit different. We’ve been watching some different teams – mainly the Cowboys – for the scheme and some Dolphins games for the personnel. At Rutgers, we only watched film on the teams we were going to play. That’s the main difference. This is a whole new deck of cards, so we don’t really know what to expect. It still hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m in the NFL and that I’m a Buccaneer. I think it will once I put on that Buccaneers jersey. Right now, I’m just trying to handle my business like Warren Sapp said.
The night practice was cool. Actually, it wasn’t. The temperature was about the same when we first came out. It was about 100 degrees when we started, but it did cool down by the end of practice. For the offensive linemen, it doesn’t matter if we play at day or night. I think it’s more for the receivers that need to get used to catching the ball in the lights.
Training camp is almost over. I remember at Rutgers for the first two weeks of practice, we were banging in full pads before we started to ease off. In the NFL it’s different. We’re not in pads that much, which is a bit surprising. I thought it would be a little more physical with us wearing the pads more often. But Coach Gruden said he’s looking for players that can do it from the neck up. There is a lot of mental preparation in the NFL because everybody out here is a great athlete. What’s going to separate you is the mental part of the game.
We’ve got a Russian player on the team, Sergey Ivanov. I haven’t had much contact with him yet. Usually in camp, the offensive line sticks together and we’re off in our own little world and the defensive backs stick together, too. It’s definitely got to be difficult for him. I couldn’t imagine going to Russia by myself and playing with a bunch of Russians. Even at Rutgers when we recruited some Florida players there was a little bit of language barrier! My hat’s off to the guy. He’s been doing a heck of a job so far.
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