The depth at receiver has been an issue for the Buccaneers for quite some time. Could the answer they have been looking for be on the roster already?
The Buccaneers’ Russell Shepard is a player that most fans, reporters, and coaches alike have overlooked throughout his professional career. Shepard has seen limited play during his years as a Buc, and was always thought of as a special teams ace. Now once again, the Bucs are going to enter a season with questionable depth at the receiver position.
The writers of Buc nation (including myself) have focused their time talking about players such as Adam Humphries, Donteea Dye, Louis Murphy, and fan favorite Kenny Bell. Yet there is another name that has failed to be mentioned quite as much… Russell Shepard. Although the obvious inconsistencies are there, Shepard has begun to rise from the ashes of the depth chart.
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For a man who has only logged a total of 91 receiving yards in the NFL, the chances of making more of an impact this season have been greatly increased. Just this past pre-season game, Shepard had three catches for 62 yards and the Bucs’ only touchdown. Something to note of was that his touchdown catch was during a drive with the first team offense.
Although Adam Humphries has been named the third Buc receiver, who comes fourth? Judging by the first pre-season game Shepard is getting an extensive look to be that man.
Shepard had a recent interview with JoeBucsFan, where he said this.
"“It’s my second year in the offense, since I’ve been at LSU I’ve been through almost 10 different offenses,” Shepard told Joe yesterday after practice. “So going through an offense with [former Eagles Head Coach] Chip [Kelly] my rookie year, going through certain things with [former Buccaneers Head Coach Greg] Schiano, there’s different offenses we learn. You learn how to learn.“The biggest thing is you just come out, you get reps. The biggest thing I will say about Dirk’s offense and his practice schedule, it gives other guys an opportunity to get reps and that’s probably been the biggest thing in my career thus far is being able to get enough reps to make up for not playing as much receiver.”"
Reps… Reps… Reps… Shepard cares about making his mark. Now that Kenny Bell is struggling in all aspects (outside of the practice fields), it could be Shepard’s time to shine. Realistically, the Bucs will be carrying five or six receivers on the roster. With Evans, Jackson, and Humphries being the obvious locks, is Shepard next?
The opportunity is there for Shepard, now he just needs to grab the bull by the horns. Is this finally the year that the Bucs’ Swiss Army knife makes the leap forward into a capable depth receiver? What is your opinion Buc fans?