Bruce Arians is right to feel as he does about Buccaneers OTAs.
OTAs have become a unique chapter in the modern NFL. Each year, player involvement or lack thereof becomes a major story leading up to training camp, and generally, these are actually non-stories.
Aaron Rodgers not showing up to OTAs is not a product of the current trouble in paradise in Green Bay. Rodgers wouldn’t show up to those workouts, nor should he, even if the team spent every draft pick on the best wide receiver available.
It is generally in the best interest of veterans to avoid these workouts, as their spots on the roster are secure. For the Buccaneers, players like Tom Brady, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin aren’t going to make an appearance at these events, and it certainly isn’t a story that they are absent.
On the other hand, rookies and young players that are coming off of bad seasons are a completely different story.
These young faces are trying to do everything in their power to make a case that they belong on the team. Much like the workouts are optional, Bruce Arians and the rest of the organization can choose whether or not to keep these players. Skipping out on these workouts does little to show the staff your commitment to the team.
As most fans know by now, this is all a reaction to Arians’ comments on Ke’Shawn Vaughn skipping OTAs yesterday to play with Tom Brady and the other veterans.
This becomes a very sticky situation when evaluating both sides, but there is merit to both viewpoints.
Vaughn has to improve as a pass-catcher. His best chance of making it onto the field is as a guy that has reliable hands. To Vaughn, the best place to work on this is with his starting quarterback at the veteran workouts, not with a rookie quarterback. This is an extremely fair line of reasoning, but Arians also has a valid position.
The staff sees Vaughn as a talented back, but one that is coming off of a very weak first season. This is not necessarily entirely on Vaughn, but it was still lackluster. OTAs are a way to show a willingness to work and build upon the successes of year one and improving on the weaknesses, and not showing up to work with the staff puts Vaughn in a weird spot.
All of this looks even worse when veteran players like Giovani Bernard show up to the optional workouts and the veteran workouts. To a coach trying to make difficult roster decisions, how do you decide between the two?
In the end, Vaughn has the talent to be a legitimate contributor on this roster going forward, but he has no choice but to show up to the OTAs from here on out. Whether it’s right or wrong, if the head coach wants you there, you need to be there.
This also sheds some light on the flawed OTA system that could see sweeping changes in the future as more scenarios like this pop up. No, the franchises can’t force players to show up, but failing to do optional work in life tends to backfire at times. Hopefully, it doesn’t in the cause of Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
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