New Bucs Running Back Reveals Why He Shaved His Mustache

Giovanni Bernard

Getty Giovanni Bernard will face his old team in the Buccaneers preseason opener.

When running back Giovani Bernard arrived in Tampa Bay as a free agent in April, he notably donned a thick mustache that he has since shaved off.

The new Buccaneers back called it his “COVID protector” according to Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times.

“I definitely had to let that thing go,” Bernard said per Knight. “I’m from Fort Lauderdale, so working out and doing that, as soon as I got back down here, I realized that thing wasn’t going to last long.”

While the former Cincinnati Bengals veteran won’t miss the mustache in the Florida heat, he will strive to fill a missing piece in the Bucs offense. Quarterback Tom Brady thrived on passing to running backs before his Bucs days in New England according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman. It didn’t work that way in Tampa last season, Auman noted, as the Bucs running backs dropped 17 passes and had a league-high drop rate.

In comes Bernard, who made a living catching passes out of the backfield in Cincinnati before the Bengals released him in April. Bernard has 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns in eight seasons.

He will be the third running back on the Bucs depth chart for the preseason opener against Cincinnati on Saturday.

Ex-Bengals QB Andy Dalton Approves The Move

“When I found out he was signing there, to think what Tom has done in his career with all the different ways he’s gotten the ball to his backs, I thought that was a perfect fit for Gio,” former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton told Auman. “I was excited for him. I think he fits really well into everything Tampa’s trying to do.”

Dalton, who now plays for the Chicago Bears, played with Bernard from 2013 to 2019. The Bears quarterback also saw Brady’s Patriots teams many times from between 2011 and 2019, playing in the AFC.

Dalton added that Bernard is “very reliable” for pass-blocking per Auman.

“You always knew that he was going to know exactly who he had in protection, and when he needed to get out and get to a checkdown,” Dalton told Auman. “That’s such a valuable thing to have, especially in third-down situations with all the different looks the defenses can give you. He puts a lot of time into it, and for a guy who’s not huge in stature, he does a great job in protection.”

Brady Wants Attention to Detail in Backfield

Bernard understands what Brady expects. So the eight-year veteran participated in voluntary organized team activities to get a jump on preparation.

“I think the biggest thing is being detailed,” Bernard on Aug. 6 per USA Today’s Bucs Wire. “He has a certain way that he wants it to be done and do it that way. It’s as simple as that. At the end of the day, there’s really nothing to it, it’s just, ‘Hey, get over it.’ At the end of the day, there’s no, ‘Hey, go do this, do this, do that.’ It’s just, ‘Hey, I want you to be that guy in front of you,’ and I think that’s what football’s all about. You want to beat the guy across the ball from you. He’s hardworking and been doing this for years and years and if there’s anybody to look up to or anybody to take after on how to prepare for the game — it’s him.”

Bernard will look to keep his own efficiency going this season. He posted a career-high 79.7 catch percentage last year. He has a career average of 74.8 percent.

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