Bucs WR Russell Shepard – Photo by: Getty Images
In four seasons Russell Shepard, an undrafted free agent out of LSU in 2013, has 15 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Of that, five catches for 81 yards and both career scores have come against Chip Kelly, the coach who originally signed and later cut Shepard from Philadelphia.
Shepard may not publicly admit there’s any added motivation against Kelly’s teams, but his quarterback had no problem suggesting as much.
“This was another big win for him because their head coach cut him, and that’s personal to him,” Jameis Winston said of Shepard. “We did everything in our power to help him. Shout out to Coach Koetter for getting him another touchdown against coach [Chip] Kelly.”
He had one reception in Philadelphia last season, a four-yard touchdown during the 45-17 rout. Then in San Francisco on Sunday, playing his largest role on offense yet, Shepard hauled in five passes for 77 yards and a go-ahead – and, effective, winning – touchdown against Kelly’s new team.
Shepard, who caught three of his five passes on one drive in the second quarter, is known for his ability as a gunner on kick coverage – a unit that’s caused two turnovers for the Bucs in the last two games. But in his first test as No. 2 wide receiver in the absence of Vincent Jackson, Shepard showed he can be more than just a special teams ace.
“He’s probably our best all-around player on this team as far as the passion that he comes with every day to work, as far as the leadership that he gives us and just his heart,” Winston said. “His overall heart is tremendous.”
Head coach Dirk Koetter echoed Winston after the game. After praising Shepard’s attitude, noting that he gave a “passionate” pregame speech, Koetter commended his hard work that translated on the field in San Fran.
“Proud of him. Shep’s a hard guy not to like,” Koetter said. “He’s got an infectious personality. He’s a fun guy to be around. He’s a fun guy in meetings, he can laugh at himself. I like guys like that. I think I just like being around guys like that.
“We said with Vincent [Jackson] out, we needed some guys to step up and even though we rotated three guys, four guys in that spot, Shep’s the guy that made plays. That touchdown, right before the half on that little double move, we’ve been working on that thing for two years. It was awesome to see. They were in the perfect coverage. I was hoping Jameis saw and I was like ‘There it is, there it is, there it is,’ and Jameis threw that thing so early. He just threw it up to the spot. I think that was the Russell Shepard drive.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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Shepard is my favorite Buc. As John Madden would say “he’s a football player”. TD catch this week. Big fumble recovery on MNF. Special teams captain. I am so happy fro him. Go Bucs!
Shep’s my favorite too. Started because he came in and wore #89 like my first favorite Buc, John McKay, Jr. (I was born a Trojan). All it took after that was to read up a bit on his HS and College careers… multi-talented, multi-position player with a great attitude. Then I watched his play and listened to interviews. This young man is special. No doubt. Don’t forget to vote for him for the Pro Bowl as a Special Teamer. He has definitely earned it with his play.
Is Shep in a contract year because he sure is playing like it.
Interesting to hear Koetter talk about his passionate pregame speech and how much he loved it.
I believe he gave one last year before the Saints game but because it had some profanity in it, he was silenced by Lovie which PR reported caused the Bucs to come out and play flat against New Orleans and lose.
Imagine, an NFL player knowing profanity and actually expressing himself with it. The next thing you know sailors will start using profanity as well.
The horror, the horror.
Oh the humanity! 🙂
Speaking as a sailor myself I find that profanity is sometimes useful but also appropriate. As I watched The Wolverines destroy Illinois last Saturday I wonder if Lovie might have wanted to let loose with few expletives, Probably not. To think that you can take young men, most from urban areas, and turn them into girl scouts was beyond belief. Sometimes a good F U is in order.
Good post DRD, but I wonder if quoting “The horror” might lose our younger BUCS posters. I got it though. Maybe the BUCS can sail their ship from the heart of darkness into the incredible voyage.
To answer your question, drdneast, Shepherd is in the last year of a four year rookie contract, though I think that “contract year” has nothing to do with his performance. He’s been great on special team all along, but he has rarely been targeted for passes (27 total targets in four seasons). But when Russell is targeted, he is very good:
15 receptions on those 27 targets, with 12.7 YPR and 2 TD. His Targets to TD ratio is 13.5, which is comparable to some of the best receivers in the NFL, such as Larry Fitzgerald (career numbers of 1,802 targets to 103 TD) at 17.5 to 1 … or Julio Jones (713 targets to 38 TD) at 18.8 to 1. Of course, that doesn’t mean that if Russell Shephard was targeted 150 times a season like those guys, his TDs would hold up. But still, when Russell gets the target, he often gets the reception and/or the TD.
Being in the construction business, if the F word was removed from some folks vocabulary their personal dictionary would be reduced to an index card. What a versatile word it is. It can be used as a noun, a verb, an adverb, an adjective, and maybe even a pronoun . F.U. can be interpreted as both a question and an exclamatory statement.
Hopefully Raider fans will be screaming WTF as the Bucs re-enact the Superbowl victory. Buccaneer fans being far more refined will refrain from such boorish statements choosing to give the collective “We’re Number 1” hand gesture as they funnel out of the stadium in disbelief just as they did in San Diego on January 26, 2003.
Hey man, are you making fun of my alma mater? F.U..
While I love Shepard and believe he deserves a shot, this team needs speed at receiver to stretch the field. Why not go after Torrey Smith with San Fran? I believe he is available along with several other players from San Fran if our GM would be pro active. Let’s not wait for the draft to get a receiver that can help Winston and Evans be even better NOW!
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