Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
After selecting just one defensive player – middle linebacker Kwon Alexander – in the last two drafts, the Buccaneers were destined to have a defensive-laden draft class in 2016. Tampa Bay selected cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III with its first-round pick and came back and picked defensive end Noah Spence in the second round. But there is one offensive draft pick that has Bucs fans buzzing and that’s former Northwestern “Superback” Danny Vitale.
Part tight end, part H-back, part fullback, Vitale will play multiple roles in Tampa Bay. His muscular build, and blue-collar work ethic and Chicago background are reminiscent of legendary Bucs Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott, who happens to be a native of Joliet, Illinois and a role model for Vitale. Although a sixth-round pick, Vitale is a near lock to make the roster as he has already endeared himself to Tampa Bay’s personnel department and coaching staff after a very successful offseason catching the football in the team’s OTAs and mini-camp.
He’s a big-play receiver from the slot, the backfield or the tight end position that has already developed a rapport with quarterback Jameis Winston and a player that could develop into a fan favorite with some success on the field as a rookie. With multiple entries over the next four weeks, Vitale will be sharing his training camp story exclusively with PewterReport.com readers in his Bucs Camp Diary.
Follow along as Vitale navigates his way through his first NFL training camp, adjusts to the heat and humidity and establishes himself as a weapon in Dirk Koetter’s offense.
AGUAYO IS GOING TO FIGURE IT OUT
By Danny Vitale as told to Mark Cook
The game against the Jaguars last Saturday was great and I was happy to play in my second NFL game. That morning I woke up – I actually got to sleep in a little bit – and I slept until around 9:30 a.m. Then I got a meal in me and after that we had meetings.
We did special teams, which was a focus of mine this week, that’s what I really wanted to do well on. We watched some special teams film, met with our offensive coaches and watched a little more film, and talked about game reminders. Then, we had some time off, so I went up to my room and really just wanted to get some sleep so I would be prepared for a later game.
That’s usually when we’re getting ready for bed. I wanted to get some extra rest. I woke up, headed down for another meal, then went over to the stadium and from there on out I was locked in and ready to go.
We got to the stadium and I always like to go out on the field an hour early to move around a little bit and catch a couple passes, just get a feel of the ground and decide what kind of cleats I’m going to wear. It was actually pretty cool, I got to meet up with one of my old teammates before the game who plays for Jacksonville, Rashard Lawrence. So, I got to talk to him beforehand. From then on out I was just focused on the game.
Focusing on my special teams play is what is going to help me make this roster when it comes down to cuts. I’ve talked with Coach Kaczor a couple times, our specials teams coordinator, and one thing that I have going for me on special teams is having a linebacker body type. Being an offensive guy that can fill that role on special teams is a big asset. I’m trying to show him that I can play every position on punt from personal protector, to slot, guard or tackle whatever it is. Then on punt return, showing that I can lock guys up and hold them at the line.
As far as kickoff, just being able to run down and make a play, which is one of my personal favorites. I get to be a defensive guy for a play. Run down fast and go throw your body at somebody. On kick return, obviously trying to bust that open and find my niche in there.
That first catch in Jacksonville, it’s always good to get one. It wasn’t anything special, but it’s good to get one early and try to do something with it. It was kind of a botched play. They just had the right defense for it. The one that slipped out, that’s something I have to do, and I have to make those plays. I ran a great route, I’ve just got to finish the catch. That’s part of the game. You have to focus when it gets hard. When things get tough and it gets down to the nitty-gritty details you have got to succeed. I’m just going to look to fix that for next week and really focus on it in practice.
The practices with the Browns were good for us as we were able to get some different looks, particularly with a 3-4 defense. They have big linebackers on the edge. Being tight ends, we have to be a little more physical with those guys. Be able to move them and stretch them which means getting your hands on them early and make them move. That was definitely a good experience for me to have as a younger guy.
In terms of the pace of practice, it was a lot quicker than it was in Jacksonville. They (Browns) were on our schedule this week and we were on Jacksonville’s last week. It was pretty cool and a lot of fun.
My body, I did a great job of taking care of it, but mentally, that was the hardest part. Waking up early every day and then staying until late at night, and only getting a couple hours of rest everyday, that was where the real grind was. But I am excited for sure to get into a regular season routine now that training camp has broken. All the older guys are excited for it, so it must be pretty good!
Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
I room with Roberto Aguayo, and he is a really confident guy and he’s going to figure it out. Whatever is going on right now, I have no worries about him whatsoever. He is going to do his job when it really matters and that is the kind of guy I think he is. Just by being his roommate, I can tell when the job is on the line, he is going to be the one to get the job done. I am excited to see what he does this week in the game.
But as a an offense we can help him out too. Make those field goals shorter or score some touchdowns. That is on us as well. But when it comes down to it, I know he is going to succeed.
The next edition of Danny Vitale’s Bucs Training Camp Diary will be later this week after the game with with the Jaguars. Please follow him on Twitter at @RealDannyVitale.
Be sure 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.
Read other exclusive Vitale Bucs Training Camp Diary entries on PewterReport.com right here:
First Installment – Vitale Bucs Training Camp Diary: “I Want To Be A Pro Bowl Fullback”
Second Installment – Vitale Bucs Training Camp Diary: “Going In Pads Is When It Gets Ramped Up”
Third Installment –Vitale’s Bucs Training Camp Diary: “I Have A Cut On My Nose, My Neck’s All Beat Up”
Fourth Installment – Vitale’s Bucs Training Camp Diary: “Felt Awesome To Hit Someone Other Than Teammates
Fifth Installment – Vitale’s Bucs Training Camp Diary: I Know It;s On, It’s Time To Go!
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
Well, the nice thing for Aguayo is that he has at least a few games to figure it out- a 6th rd pick would have been let go by now. They will bend over backwards to give him a shot to prove their pick right.
I haven’t given up on him yet!
If the Bucs cut Aguayo, then they have to fire Jason Licht.
I would like to see Vitale get a chance to tote the rock on a few plays, but I got a feeling that isn’t in the cards for him.
The thing is with Aguayo, kickers are like hitters in baseball, a lot of them are superstitious and can let something get in their head. For some, they never figure it out. But I got a feeling about this kid. He did miss his share of kicks in college and found a way to get the job done when it counted. I think he will do the same thing here. In this regard, there’s no difference between the NFL and college.
Dude, that is wishful thinking. Has any kicker been this poor in his debut?
Aguayo struggles the talk of Sports Radio even here in Phoenix! The Phoenix Sports Radio guys go a report that Aguayo kicked into his line. They are worried that he is not a good pick. Since Jason Licht, they believe his job will be on the line. Licht used to work with Cardinals GM Steve Keim. They had some ex-Cardinal kickers weigh in on Aguayo, they basically said, if he is doing all this stuff to work on his head, that he should keep it to himself and not publicize it. Amazing with the Cardinals on their Super Bowl win or bust mentality, they took a whole 30 minutes to talk about the Tampa rookie kicker and the world of trouble he is in, and that he is likely tied to Jason Licht’s future.
Sorry I should’ve said. Aguayo kicked into his line at practice and was loudly booed by the fans watching.
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