TAMPA, Fla. — In addition to bringing everyone back that started in Super Bowl LV, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached out to bring in one outside player ahead of the NFL Draft last month.
That guy was former Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard.
Gio, a long-time fan favorite in Cincy, brings a veteran presence to the team in addition to his running and pass catching abilities. However, he’s never been “the guy” for as long as he’s been in the NFL.
With the Bengals, he played second fiddle to Benjarvis Green-Ellis, Jeremy Hill, and Joe Mixon. With the Bucs, things will be no different. He will see some playing time but knows that the bulk of the work will go to Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette. But that isn’t stopping him from working as hard as he can and utilizing every resource he can find.
Bernard joined Tom Brady, Chris Godwin, RoJo, Rob Gronkowski and a host of others at a private workout in Tampa on Monday. On Tuesday, he was in the Advent Health Training Facility to take part in OTAs. When Bernard spoke with the media afterwards, he said he’s kind of like a rookie again, getting to know an unfamiliar place, unfamiliar coaches, unfamiliar teammates and a brand new playbook.
It’s not like Bernard hasn’t had to learn new playbooks in the past. Having gone through a coaching change in Cincinnati, he’s familiar - like all players are - at how to relate the information to what he already knows. It’s simply his desire to work with as many players as he can, no matter the setting, and absorb as much information as he can to be ready to contribute to the team.
He knows there’s a hungry running back behind him in Ke’Sahwn Vaughn who is looking to find his way into the lineup as often as possible. To do so, Vaughn has to show the coaching staff he can do all the things they need their running backs to do and it starts with OTAs.
This kind of work ethic and this kind of attitude is what made Bernard such a beloved member of the Bengals. He’s the guy everyone loves to have as their teammate. And even though he was never the top back in Cincinnati, Bernard jerseys were seen in droves in Paul Brown Stadium and throughout the city. It’s because of what we’re already seeing and hearing from him: Working with the veterans who don’t need to be at OTAs, attending OTAs to work with the young guys and coaches. That’s who Gio is and what he brings to an already tight locker room.
He doesn’t have a long way to go to surpass what LeSean McCoy did for the team last season, but you have to believe that Bruce Arians and Tom Brady personally reached out to recruit him for a reason. And that reason is that he makes the team better, both on the field and off of it.
For more on this story and for more on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, check out the Locked On Bucs Podcast.
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