The Buccaneers are well into the swing of things at training camp. One of the most important issues to watch is the development of rookies, like Noah Spence and Vernon Hargreaves.
When their NFL careers begin, getting adjusted to the speed of the game is critical, and it starts during training camp. Buccaneers camp is in full swing, and two of the more notable rookies are Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence. As first and second round picks respectively, the expectations on each of them are high. Getting accustomed to the speed of the game is going to be crucial to the success of each of these players.
Over the weekend, the Bucs put the pads on for the first time. Hargreaves and Spence haven’t put the pads on and hit since they took off their college football uniforms the final time. Nothing unifies veterans and rookies more than getting out there and just playing football.
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So, how are they doing early on? They both talked to the media following yesterday’s practice.
The Bucs are initially preparing Hargreaves to move inside and play nickel corner. He is feeling good about it so far:
"“It’s going well. It’s kind of just like playing corner, you’re just inside. You’ve still got your basic coverages, but just something I’ve got to get used to and something I gotta get good at.”"
Many rookies get overwhelmed when they enter the league and try to do everything. They find it difficult staying within themselves. Vernon isn’t have that problem, as he has been comfortable right from the jump, not even nervous about the first practice in pads:
"“No, it’s football. I’m focused on what I’ve gotta do and helping the team in whatever way I can.” “It was great – fun playing football again.”"
From everything he is saying, Hargreaves is letting the game come to him. It’s important, because the game will slow down for him. If a player tries too hard too early, the game will become overwhelming and they become another college talent that falls by the wayside. “VHIII” is following the right path, so far.
The Bucs were thrilled to select Noah Spence in round two of the draft. Many had Spence graded in the first round, and Tampa nation is expecting the world of this young man. The Bucs are expecting Spence to take quarterbacks down on a regular basis, and along with Robert Ayers, becoming a dominating threesome with Gerald McCoy.
So far, the young Spence is feeling quite good:
"“Good, feeling pretty good. I mean, it’s still football and everything but it’s just a little fast paced right now but I think [I am] getting it together pretty good.”"
At this point, Spence doesn’t feel like adjusting to the pros is difficult:
"“I don’t think it’s that hard or anything, it was just learning the plays at first. Now I’ve pretty much got them down pat. As they come to us you just study them. That was really the biggest thing for me, getting all the plays.”"
Let’s be fair, that one is pretty easy to say in late July. It may not seem hard yet, but it will be interesting to see if he is singing the same tune when games begin. But nevertheless, it’s a good sign that Spence is feeling that way.
Once he stops thinking, Noah knows he will be able to run around and really show what he can do:
"“I’m getting there – I’m still trying to get to my full speed because I’m still thinking a little bit when I come off and everything like that. Once I get everything fully down I can go full speed.”"
The league is always going to be more complex than it was when he was in college. If you are thinking, you won’t be able to play your best. The sky is the limit for Spence once things become second nature.
It’s a critical time for rookies all over the NFL and it is no different for the Bucs. Spence and Hargreaves are starting to get the hang of things, which is a great sign.