TAMPA, Fla. — There has never been a greater buzz surrounding an upcoming Buccaneers season.
Nearly all the guys who received Super Bowl rings on Thursday are back on the field in a Tampa Bay uniform ready to make a run again.
There is unprecedented continuity with this squad. Despite the fact they just won a title, they should have a leg up on the competition in terms of acclimating to the new season.
"The way the guys competed out there and their retention was outstanding," head coach Bruce Arians said.
Wide receiver Mike Evans said, “I felt that in minicamp. In minicamp, it seems like we didn’t leave. It felt like we took a couple of weeks off and we’re back it. I feel like we’re going to be much better, especially offensively this year. I’m just excited to see what we can do.”
The last franchise to repeat as champs was the 2003-2004 Patriots. Tom Brady was the quarterback of that team and he is the quarterback of this team. Guys in the locker room are still in awe of what he did last year, leading this group to a Super Bowl on a torn MCL.
"He's a tough guy," cornerback Carlton Davis III said. "He's the GOAT, so I wouldn't expect nothing less from him."
Evans, Brady's favorite target, said, "He's as tough as you're going to get. He was battling...it speaks to how tough of a player he really is."
The expectations are extremely high for this group. Honestly, it is Super Bowl or bust. They will be circled on everybody's calendar and the team does not mind the pressure. There is no complacency within the locker room.
"Don't assume anything. We're starting from scratch. That was last year's team," Arians said. "This team, we can't assume that we know anything. We have to go back to the beginning, start all over, listen in the meetings and learn more from the film we have from last year."
Davis said, "It’s another season and it has nothing to do with last year, so I think all of us know that. We see a Super Bowl banner hanging up and we want another one. We want another boat parade; we want another ring ceremony, we want the whole thing again. This just made us a little bit hungrier.”
One thing all teams will have to navigate again are the COVID protocols. The team believes they will have more than 85 percent of the squad vaccinated by the end of camp, but someone who has been vocal about not getting the vaccine is Leonard Fournette.
"Our coach respects our decisions, we’re men," Fournette said. "(Arians) said that he is 100 percent with us with whatever we want to do just don’t get the team sick. That’s about it.”
The Bucs were one of the few teams not to have any issues with COVID last year and they hope it stays that way.
A couple of other notes, Antonio Brown showed up late to practice, no word on why, but he was still catching balls from Brady. Also, it looks like 2nd round pick Kyle Trask will start camp as the 4th quarterback and work his way up the depth chart as the primary backup.
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