As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kick off mandatory mini-camp, newly acquired defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul spoke on missing the team’s OTAs.
There wasn’t a lot of worry on my end when it came to the fact that Jason Pierre-Paul had missed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ OTAs. They, as always, were optional. Some guys show up for all of them, some guys show up for some of them, some guys don’t show up.
That’s kind of the definition of optional, isn’t it?
Now the Bucs have kicked off mandatory mini-camp and Jason Pierre-Paul was there, as promised. Head coach Dirk Koetter said he had been in contact with JPP and that he was confident when mini-camp arose, the new star defensive end would be there.
And was he ever.
When JPP was made available for the media, there was quite a swarm as many wanted to know what he was doing and why he skipped the activities that ultimately cost him $250,000 per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
JPP had plenty to say when the time finally arose, as you can well imagine. No, it wasn’t a contract issue. No, it wasn’t a laziness issue. No it wasn’t a selfish issue in the least. It was the responsibilities of a family fan and a father that had to uproot his family for the transition from the New York Giants to the Bucs;
"“The offseason’s been hectic, man, a lot of moving around and getting situated, but I’m here now. A lot of moving around, bringing my stuff from Jersey, making sure my son’s situated – that’s basically it.”"
The question many will have is whether or not that lost time is going to affect Pierre-Paul’s ability to gel with the team, affect the chemistry of the defensive line, or set him behind in the playbook or conditioning – or both.
The answer is a resounding no.
"“Like I said, I’m a pro. Even though I wasn’t here I was at home studying and making sure I know the calls, the installs. That’s just something you do. You keep [doing] your work, keep working out – every day I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and went to the gym, got out of there at 8:00 a.m. Just stuff I’ve been doing, I’ve been keeping up, so it’s not – like I said, it was a situation that I had to take care of. I took care of it and now I’m here.”"
Look, Jason Pierre-Paul is an eight year veteran in this league. He’s a multi-time Pro Bowl selection. There is a reason the Buccaneers gave up a third round pick to get him. At this point, JPP wouldn’t have seen the success he did if he didn’t know how to prepare his mind or his body for the long and grueling NFL season.
There should be no concern on the part of the team or the fans as to whether or not JPP will be ready. On top of that, this is early June. There is still training camp left before the preseason. Plenty of time for him to get a handle on the new terminology, bond with his teammates, and prepare to dominate like the premiere edge rusher he is.
JPP has shown up now. He’s in Tampa Bay Buccaneers colors, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet, on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice field. The hype is real.