NEW DAY IN TAMPA BAY
By Greg Lewandowski

If you’re a Bucs fan, minicamp was the place to be.  The event showcased the up-and-coming Bucs for a large group of dedicated fans and inquisitive media members like myself.

From the standpoint of the fans, it was a great place for the whole family to get an opportunity to see all the Buccaneers up close and personal.  It was also a chance for fans to show off their Bucs attire and EVERYONE took advantage of that opportunity. Plus, a small army of kids with Sharpies in hand were looking to secure autographs from some of their heroes on the team.

Minicamp, which is a mandatory activity, is the first time newcomers and veterans take the field together.  From my point of view, the “newbies” stood up strong next to the 6’5′ and larger monsters on the team as they ran drills and plays in the front sections of the practice fields closest to their adoring fans.

Speaking of fans, even they had fans.  Free ice cold water and Buccaneer helmet shaped fans were compliments of the organization.

Unlike Tuesday, where minicamp took place under overcast skies, the Wednesday practice was held in typical Tampa Bay June weather.  To put it simply, it was oppressively hot and there was no way to beat the heat.  It felt like ninety-something and not a yard of shade to be found.

When asked about training in the heat, Head Coach Dirk Koetter responded, “This is as tough as it gets.  (We’ve) practiced in the rain and the heat the past few weeks.”  However Koetter wants to slice it, he knows that practicing in these climatic conditions can only help his team, especially those new to Pewter Pirates, to get ready for the “real heat” when training camp rolls around in late July.

Let me tell you, the reader, a little bit about myself.  I’m a Florida State grad so I’m definitely pulling for my man Jameis and the coaching staff makes sure that they push him every day.  For example, loud music is piped in  to simulate stadium noise and Winston is in almost perfect time with Rubberband Man by the Spinners and here’s how that went.

The marching bass line gets rolling; Jameis walks out off the huddle.  “Hurry now and don’t be late ’cause we ain’t got time to chat”; Winston quickly takes his position.  “You and me are goin’ out to catch the latest sounds”; center Ali Marley snaps the pigskin.  “Guaranteed to blow your mind, so high you won’t come down”; #3 scans the field for receivers.

Just as the chorus hits, “Hey, y’all, prepare yourself for the Rubberband Man”; Winston rockets a laser to WR Mike Evans in the end zone for a TD.  Winston regroups the offense to congratulate them to the sound of “You’ve never heard a sound like the Rubberband Man.  You’re bound to lose control as the rubberband starts to jam.”  Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t make that up.

As I witnessed this perfectly timed moment I felt like I was watching a football movie montage.  I felt that instant excitement that a fan feels when they are looking forward to what they feel will be an extremely successful season.

My takeaway from minicamp : There’s a lot of talent on that football field and it’s going to be exciting to see how the Buccaneers come together as a team.

I believe this season will be a great one for the Bucs and it all starts with my FSU alumni. If Jameis makes it happen you better buckle your seat belts because it’s going to be a heck of a ride.