Less than 24 hours after signing with Tampa Bay, Cecil Shorts was at his locker and available to talk to the media about his new opportunity.
The 28-year-old receiver, who played last season in Houston and was released earlier this month, is looking forward to lining up alongside the existing Bucs receiving corps.
“You have three awesome weapons, including Adam (Humphries),” Shorts said. “He had a really good preseason, from what I understand. I’m just here to help out in any way I can, so I’m excited to be here.”
He’s also excited to catch passes from Jameis Winston, who impressed him from afar.
“I was a fan of his previously, from just seeing him a couple times on film,” Shorts said of Winston. “From what I’ve heard from other people, he’s a great leader. Even in college I saw that leadership quality. He just wins games. I’m excited to be here and be another weapon in the repertoire.”
Shorts, who caught 42 passes in 11 games in 2015, admitted that his “head is spinning” a little bit after joining a team that’s already started their Week 1-preparation. But he’s optimistic he can absorb the playbook and contribute on short notice. It also helps that he spent his rookie season in Dirk Koetter’s offense.
“I’m familiar with his offense and I’m familiar with him,” he said of Koetter. “I know what type of coach he is. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s been around a long time, offensive minded guy and a very good coach. It definitely helped to come here.
“I learned a lot,” Shorts said of his rookie year with Koetter. “Some of the terms and other things are similar here. That kind of helps a little bit, when you see an old term from five years ago. But I learned a lot from his offense and from the coaching staff and I’m excited to work with him now. Kind of reunited with him, so it’ll be cool.”
A sixth-year pro who’s been hit by the injury bug a few times – he’s never played all 16 games – Shorts said he’s made a few adjustments to his diet and training, and believes he has a good idea of how to take care of his body.
The Bucs, who released second-year pro Evan Spencer to sign Shorts, were looking for more experience in the receiving corps. The Texans, meanwhile, were shifting in a younger direction and saw the veteran slot receiver as the odd man out. Everything aligned.
“He definitely adds experience to the room,” offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Todd Monken said. “We’ve had a couple injuries as of late in the preseason. We looked to get a veteran guy in here that kind of solidifies our receiving corps – a guy that’s played a lot of football and made plays in the past.”
UPDATE: 4:02 PM
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter at his press conference Wednesday called the addition of Shorts a “definite upgrade” to the receiver group. Ever since coaching him during his rookie year, Koetter has followed Shorts’ career and been impressed with his body of work – one that mainly saw him as his team’s No. 2 WR, Koetter noted.
Asked what Shorts brings that Tampa Bay didn’t already have, Koetter responded, “212 receptions.” Shorts, who Koetter said is veteran and can learn an offense quickly, will be “out there” on the field Sunday against Atlanta, the coach confirmed.
“I had Cecil his rookie year in Jacksonville, and I’ve followed him because of the fact that we were together that year,” Koetter said. “When he’s been healthy, he’s been a real productive player in this league. He’s smooth, he’s explosive, he can return kicks. We definitely upgraded. Everybody has been complaining about the back end of our receiver group, and that was a definite upgrade there. The hard thing is the timing of it and just getting him up to speed. But I think he told me he went through like three systems in Jacksonville and Houston.
“Just meeting with him a little bit last night, you can tell the guy is a vet and he’ll pick it up fast. We’re going to get him out there and have him ready to go this week.”
Shorts could be seen fielding punts at practice with Adam Humphries, the presumptive punt returner, but Koetter wouldn’t say whether Shorts could be in the mix for that role. No matter where the Bucs have him on the depth chart, though, expect Shorts and all other wide receivers to see a fair amount of time.
“Players make plays on game days, whether they’re the one, two, three, four or five,” Koetter said. “Players make plays. If they’re out there for us, we’re expecting us to make plays.”
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.
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Again, Shorts is definitely an upgrade and could fit in perfectly. If Murphy returns and can contribute, a weakness can become a definite strength later on in the season.
It sure does pay off not to burn bridges in the NFL. Also, thanks goes out to Houston for working his salary down to a more manageable number.
Wonder is with the Texans starting a QB with only seven starts under his belt, why the Texans want to go with younger and more inexperienced players. Osweiler is going to need all the help he can get.
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