The Bucs Training Camp Diaries are an annual feature on PewterReport.com and we have two gems this year in veteran nose tackle Beau Allen, who will give PewterReport.com readers insight into the Bucs defense during training camp and the preseason, and rookie running back Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay’s second-round pick, who will offer his perspective on the offensive side of the ball.
Jones is battling Peyton Barber for the right to become a starter during his rookie season. With breakaway speed and electric acceleration, Jones brings a different dimension that Tampa Bay’s offense has lacked for quite some time. Because both Barber and Jones will play in the Bucs’ “Bash and Dash” backfield, the rookie from USC will need to prove in camp and the preseason that he’s mastered the playbook and can handle a sizeable workload during the regular season. In his three years with the Trojans, Jones rushed for 3,619 yards and 39 touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. During his junior year, Jones had a breakout season, rushing for a career-high 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
The biggest area in which Jones needs to grow is in the passing game. The USC product had just 32 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns in his three years with the Trojans. Jones had a career-high 14 catches for 187 yards and one touchdown as a junior, but clearly needs more work as a receiver and pass protector because he wasn’t asked to play a large role in the passing game while at USC. That will be a big point of emphasis for Jones in August.
I’m A 4.41 Guy – Not The Guy At The Combine
As told to Mark Cook
This has been the busiest offseason of my life. Right after the season ended I started Combine training. I was training at EXOS in the San Diego area and then went to the Combine and met with teams and all that. Then the draft happened and I became a Buccaneer, and after that I went back to Texas before OTAs and the rookie mini-camp.
I was dealing with a hamstring injury leading up to the Combine, and even then at the Combine it was one of the most disappointing and embarrassing times of my life. I had to pull my hamstring running the 40, which is my specialty. But I’m all better now and running fast again. I’m a 4.41 guy – not the guy at the Combine.
After the mini-camp I started my time off by going back to L.A. and USC and caught up with my boys. I met up with some of the other guys that had been drafted and that was good – saying our final goodbyes before heading off into the real world. That was cool to catch up then, and then the last three and a half to four weeks I went back to Texas and started grinding and hanging out there.
I came back to Tampa on Friday last week and my mom and a family friend helped me move in. Then I had about two days to settle in. On Monday we had a conditioning test, and on Tuesday we had rookie practice, and then another rookie practice. Now we’re here with the vets going over install once again at the start of training camp. It’s finally here.
As far as making it to the NFL, it’s hit me in the sense that it’s real and that it’s actually happening, but I don’t think it’ll hit me until I play that first game – preseason or regular season – whenever that comes. When I get that first carry, or come out of the tunnel, things like that. Those are things you live and dream about, so when that moment finally comes I can let you know for sure how it feels.
Coming into this season as a rookie, goal-wise I just want to come in and help the team. I want to find my role, find my niche, get in good with the organization and be the player that they selected me to be. It’s not about yards. It’s about the team.
As far as a roommate now right now, I’m with Justin Watson, a rookie wide receiver. Justin is an Ivy League dude. He’s been teaching me a lot about the finance and business as he’s a really smart guy. I found a financial advisor, but I talk to Justin about whatever I’m about to buy, like a watch. I’ll be like, “Bro, you think I can get this cheaper somewhere else? Or what’s the interest rate on this or that? Is that a good rate?” So he’s been very good to room with for that reason and also the playbook since I can go out at wide receiver on a few snaps, so he lets me know what’s up there.
With an NFL playbook it’s as big as you would think it is, but coming from USC we had a pro-style offense, so a lot of the concepts are the same. But it’s the responsibilities from play to play and just knowing your assignment, you have a lot more on your plate here in the NFL. We did run a pro style offense at USC, so I got some experience with that and it’s helped my adjustment to the NFL.
When I look around practice a lot of guys standout to me. Definitely Mike Evans. Comes to work every day and I haven’t seen him drop a ball yet in my six or seven weeks here. Then Jameis Winston and the linemen. Everyone is detailed and you see why they’re professionals. Jacquizz Rodgers has been teaching me how to get in a routine and to take care of my body. So I’ve seen a lot of those guys last and why they’ve gotten where they are.
Our defense is looking great – even without pads on. You see Gerald McCoy breaking through the line, and Kwon Alexander running us down along with Lavonte David. I definitely look up to those guys. I was watching them play last year on TV and now I’m playing with them, so I’m just trying to catch up and get on their level.
I’m a (video) gamer, but honestly these past five weeks I haven’t been much of one. I’m not too big on Fortnite. I tried it but I couldn’t get the hang of it, so I stuck with the sports games: NBA 2K, Forza, Mortal Kombat, stuff like that.
Speaking of video games, I was surprised by my Madden rating – that I’m the fastest rookie running back. I know I really am the fastest, but that 40 time I had the Combine was bad when I was hurt, so I thought they were going to base it on that. But that lets me know that Madden knows that the real RoJo is back, so I’ll definitely be on that this year playing against my boys!
The two biggest things I’m focused on in training camp definitely are the playbook and sleep! Sleep is a huge factor. Coming from L.A. most of my friends there and in Texas are on different time zones so it’s 6:00 p.m. here and it’s 3:00 p.m. there and I’m trying to get some sleep. I’ve definitely got to get my sleep and study in training camp.
Follow Bucs rookie running back Ronald Jones on Twitter at @RoJo
The next RoJo Bucs Training Camp Diary will be posted in a few days as well as regular Beau Allen Bucs Training Camp Diaries. 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.