How did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fare on Sunday morning at training camp? Find out here. Learn which offensive linemen looked great, what defensive end moved up to first-team reps, which wide receiver had the catch of the day and which coach went off on his second day in the sun. It's an exclusive from Bucsblitz.com. Get the scoop right here.
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Last year Gaines Adams was always on the run.
When training camp started last year the former first-round pick didn't know what to expect and, at times, didn't know what to do. So he asked teammates — constantly — and his mind raced to solve the problem before his next rep.
"This year I feel a lot better, more calm," Adams said. "When they call a play I'm not asking someone, ‘What do I have to do? What are they doing.' I feel a whole lot better."
The Buccaneers probably feel better about their investment, too. Eight games into the season Adams appeared as if he was struggling against NFL lineman and to find playing time.
That changed when former DE Greg Spires went down with an injury. Starting with the Bucs' victory over the Cardinals, Adams started eight straight games and began to flourish on the right side, finishing the second with six sacks, 55 tackles, two forced fumbles and a spot on the PFW/PFWA All-Rookie team. His six sacks also led all NFL rookies.
By the end of the season, it was obvious that all Adams really needed was playing time.
By NFL standards, Adams' season was average for a defensive end drafted in the Top 10 in the past 15 years. Few players in Adams' position — he was drafted No. 4 overall — record the double-digit sacks that players like Tennessee's Jevon Kearse and Indianapolis' Dwight Freeney did in their rookie seasons.
The leap, however, comes in a player's second year in the league. The Bucs can look no further than Houston's Mario Williams.
Williams came into the NFL as the league's No. 1 overall pick in 2006, but mustered just 4 ½ sacks his rookie season. Last year Williams took a quantum leap, finishing with 14 sacks and justifying the Texans' decision to bypass Saints RB Reggie Bush.
Adams would love to have a similar leap in 2008. But he won't compare himself to Williams, saying that he's only set some "higher goals" for himself and that he's a different player than Williams.
"I know people are going to put pressure on me," Adams said. "That's part of the game."
So Adams whipped his body into shape during the offseason, adopting a stricter diet that eliminated fast food and fried foods. He still indulges in the occasional cheeseburger, he admits, but the diet has had some unexpected dividends.
"Eating that (fast) food makes me tired faster," Adams said. "By eating more healthy foods, my stamina is up. Everything is moving so well for me. I feel a whole lot better."
The diet, plus the Bucs' offseason program, helped Adams redistribute his weight, strengthen his core and trim down to a lean 258 pounds. Some reports circulated that Adams had lost as much as 25 pounds. But one look at Adams proves that report inaccurate.
"Same size, same size, same size," Adams said. "I'm glad I did that. I just go out and perform better now."
Adams enters this season as the undisputed starter at right end. When the Bucs released Simeon Rice last training camp, they committed to making Adams their future at the position.
And after an offseason of hard work, that future looks a little brighter.
"Where I was drafted I knew people would put pressure on me," Adams said. "That comes with it. You do your job and the rest takes care of itself."
Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of bucsblitz.com.