Chillin’ with AC – JULY 29
By Andrew Cioffo

The Tampa Buccaneers are almost through with their first week of training camp and, man, is there some excitement for this year as the Bucs are defending Super Bowl Champions. I was able to attend their practice last Sunday which was the opening day for training camp.

There was a large amount of fans in attendance and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. The fans had high energy starting at 8am, when they all arrived, until the final whistle ended practice in the unbearable heat.

It was a great day for Bucs nation as they had fan activities, concessions, and more. The atmosphere almost felt like a gameday one with fans cheering on the team every single play. Being Super Bowl champs carries a lot of weight and you could feel the intensity in the air. The Bucs were able to re-sign all of their starters from the previous year and it is clear their goal is to repeat as world champions.

The players were feeding off of the fan’s energy. On one play Mike Evans made a catch on the sidelines in front of the stands and after he made the catch, he leaped the fence and did a little celebration with energetic crowd.

The whole team seemed to be absolutely fired up to get things started, but it was pretty apparent that they have a lot of work to do. Each season brings new challenges, and it was clear that it was the team’s first practice of the year. The beginning of practice seemed a bit sloppy with a lot dropped passes, balls thrown away and a sense of seemed like missed communications. Nothing that you wouldn’t expect on day one.

In an interview after the first day of camp HC Bruce Arians said, “The last 30 minuets of practice were very sluggish, guys are complaining about the heat, but its no excuse, they should’ve decided to train here in Tampa, the weather isn’t going to be much different when the season starts, so we have to get used to it.”

I think that although it was a bit sloppy, Tom Brady looked really sharp as it is clear he has full control of the offense. He was moving well in the pocket and completing many passes in the 7 on 7 period. Rob Gronkowski also looked to be moving very fast and made a ton of catches. I noticed Tom and Antonio Brown speaking to each other a lot in between drills and even running the routes while they weren’t participating in the team drills. It is clear that Tom and AB want to work on their chemistry for this season.

Their second round pick, Kyle Trask, from the University of Florida, was with the starting group for all drills and was alternating reps with Tom Brady. I think this a great opportunity for Trask to learn from the best. I saw Tom barking at Trask after he made a few bad plays and you could truly see that Tom is wanting to teach him as much as he can. Safe to say there was many Gator fans in the stands. That’s because every time Trask made a play, the place erupted.

The very first pass from Brady to Rob Gronkowski in warmups got a lot of cheers from the crowd. Gronk caught a pass that looked very similar to his touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. First round pick, Joe Tyron, was a full participant after missing minicamp in June with a minor knee injury. It looked like he is ready to go for the season and it will be interesting to see how he fits into the rotation that includes Jason Pierre-Paul, Shaq Barrett, and Anthony Nelson.

The Buccaneers have made great additions to there already Super Bowl caliber team, and I am excited to see more improvements to come!  Also, I’d like to thank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers photo journalists that provided the photos for my column.