Rob Gronkowski hasn’t played football in over a year and while his fitness while off the field was never in question, Buccaneers‘ head coach Bruce Arians says the tight end wasn’t ready for the heat in Florida.
“He’s probably in New England shape right now,” Arians said (Greg Auman of TheAthletic.com). “He’s not in Florida shape. The heat’s kicking his ass pretty good. It’s different, man . . . I don’t think he’s ever sweat that much in his life.”
Gronk and his Tampa Bay teammates have less than a month to get in whatever shape they need to, as the Bucs open the season against the Saints on Sept 13.
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Buccaneers All-In This Season (Minus One Player)
Concerns over the safety of playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic still exist and NFL players have the right to opt-out of the 2020 season. Sixty-nine players have chosen to opt-out, as Pro Football Action captures in its COVID-19 Opt-Out Tracker.
Tackle Brad Seaton is the only member of the Buccaneers on that list. Seaton, who spent 2017 and 2019 on the franchise’s practice squad, was no lock to make the roster, though he could have provided the team with depth on the offensive line.
The NFC South hasn’t had too many players opt-out. The Panthers and Saints each have two players (none of which are starters) opting out and the Falcons currently have no players choosing to sit out the season.
Tight end Cameron Brate, who was one of the participants in Brady’s drills earlier this offseason, announced that he tested positive for COVID-19. Brate has recovered and the 29-year-old made a video promoting the donation of plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19.
New Wrinkles in the Buccaneers’ Offense
Brady is still adjusting to the new offense in Tampa Bay, though his teammates are going to have to adjust to especially with the audibling of plays. Arians explains that the Bucs didn’t do much of that under Jameis Winston over the past few seasons.
“Tom’s used to audibling so much and we haven’t asked our guys to audible that much in the last few years,” Bruce Arians recently said. “Going back to [coaching] Peyton, he’d have three plays in the huddle. And he might run a fourth one, because he saw something he liked. Tom can do those types of things. We’ll give him those types of things to do but right now it’s just, Let’s get it all down pat, which he probably has 90 percent of it in the book right now in his mind.”
Some may worry about Tampa Bay’s defense, though the unit wasn’t a major problem in 2019. No team was better against the run than the Bucs last season, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The passing defense? It was solid, ranking 12th in the league.
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