The Bucs will go into the season with six cornerbacks on the active roster. Jude Adjei-Barimah, a former undrafted practice squad player, will be one of them.
“It just feels good,” Adjei-Barimah said Friday after being told the good news. “This time last year I was packing up my locker. My main goal was to be on that opening day 53, and it feels good to be here.”
Last season Adjei-Barimah fought his way back onto the active roster, playing in 13 games with seven starts in place of Johnthan Banks, who also made the final 53 Friday. While Adjei-Barimah earned a reputation as a physical corner – 41 tackles – he had his setbacks in coverage at times and his future in Tampa was anything but certain last December.
Then, before he even stepped back in the building for the offseason program, the Bucs added Brent Grimes in free agency, drafted Vernon Hargreaves III in the first round and gave Alterraun Verner and Banks a clean slate in a new scheme. Making the final 53 looked bleak for a time for the former Bowling Green corner.
But, like so many other things in Adjei-Barimah’s career, the added competition never fazed his confidence and drive to make the team. He embraced the newcomers and focused on becoming a more complete defensive back – that way he could open up more opportunities to compete in coordinator Mike Smith’s defense.
“With the guys that we brought in during the offseason, I knew that I was going to have to do more for the team in order to be on that 53-man roster,” said Adjei-Barimah, who’s lined up at outside corner as well as nickel, and played in the box and come in on a few blitzes during the preseason.
“My offseason work and everything I did, I approached it as, you have to make yourself as versatile as possible in order for the staff and organization to see your values. I’m really happy that I was able to do enough for the organization. I feel like I deserve to be on the 53-man roster.”
He added that it was an advantage to go through OTAs and camp with his teammates as it built chemistry and made him more comfortable in the defense. Having starting experience last season helped, too.
Adjei-Barimah said he gained confidence from the good moments during his rookie year but learned more from the bad.
“For me, I’m thankful that it was in game situations where I was able to get those reps. I learned a lot – good and bad,” Adjei-Barimah said. “I had my good moments but I also had some bad moments and I feel like that built me mentally. That’s what this league is about. You have to be able to bounce back. It did give me a little more confidence going into this year, that I did feel like I belonged. It gave me a lot of confidence to execute what I’m able to do as a player.”
Now it’s on to Atlanta.
“It’s the first game of the season and I’m excited and I know the rest of the team is excited,” Adjei-Barimah said. “We’re ready to start fast. It’s a new year and we’re ready to show the fans – and just the city and everyone – what the 2016 Bucs really look like.
“We worked really hard throughout training camp, OTAs and everything. We’re ready to put it together on September 11.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org