From now until the end of the preseason, the Buccaneers will have to make a series of roster cuts, eventually bringing their current 90-man squad down to the final 53. Until that time, throughout training camp and preseason, roughly 40 players will be competing for the final few spots that haven’t already been determined.
This can be a challenging time for many young undrafted players, who know that they’ll have to exceed expectations to prove they belong on the team.
One player who exemplifies the attitude every “bubble player” should have when they take the field is linebacker Jared Koster. An undrafted free agent out of New Mexico Highlands, Koster knows the importance of showing versatility and proving his depth and value too significant to cut.
“I’m always trying to be in the right place and do my job, as well as know the playbook at every single position,” Koster said after practice on Wednesday. “That way if anyone goes down at any position and they need depth, they can trust me to be there. I can also be a guy on special teams. If they think they can use me on special teams, then they also see me as a contributor as a backup at any (linebacker) position, and that makes me worth having on the 53-man roster.”
As a linebacker, Koster plays a key position in the Buccaneer’s defense and one that’s arguably the deepest and most talented on the team. With guys like Lavonte David and Bruce Carter atop the depth chart, finding a place on the Bucs’ unit seems like an up-hill battle. But the 24-year old rookie isn’t discouraged by his competition and instead uses the veterans to his advantage, picking their brains while trying to develop in every position.
“I’ve played Mike, Will and Sam already since I’ve been here. I’m kind of a utility guy,” Koster said. “The coaches want me to learn every single position and also play special teams. So I’ve gotten in Bruce Carter’s head, Danny Lansanah’s head.”
If there is a player who all undrafted rookies can learn from – especially linebackers – it’s Danny Lansanah. The practice squad journeyman turned NFL starter now tells his story to motivate incoming players. Koster has taken a particular interest as he continues to gain confidence from Lansanah along with the rest of his veteran teammates.
“(Lansanah) actually talks to the rookies during our rookie academies,” Koster said. “He explained his whole story about being on the practice squads, (how he) went home and started working for a while, got a call, came back and had an outstanding season – three interceptions and two touchdowns. His story is definitely inspiring.
“All the veterans are cool and have been really helpful, (they’re) kind of getting the rookies acclimated to the program.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
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Good Article Zach.
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