Tampa Bay running back Jeff Demps enters the Buccaneers’ 2014 training camp trying to win a roster spot by using his world-class speed to make an impact on offense and special teams. Demps, an Olympic sprinter who is known as the fast man in the NFL, is in the mix for playing time at running back, which might feature the toughest competition of all the positions in Tampa Bay, and he is vying to be the team’s kick returner in 2014.
The former Florida Gators star gives PewterReport.com an exclusive look into his training camp battle with other talented Buccaneers in Jeff Demps’ Training Camp Diary as told to Scott Reynolds.
FIRST DAY OF CAMP IN FULL PADSI was really looking forward to the first day of prcatice in pads. There’s been a lot of trash talk between the offense and the defense leading up to this, so it was good to finally put the pads on.
It was tough to get our running game going today. The defensive line was playing really well. As running backs, we knew the first day in pads might be rough, but it was all about getting that first hit going through the hole. We made some plays in the passing game, though. It wasn’t a great day for us offensively, but there’s room for improvement.
I fumbled today in our team drill. The ball was kind of slippery with all of the sweat, but I should have more control over it. There’s no excuse. It happened on the exchange with the quarterback, but you have to have a short memory. I shook it off and wanted to make a play to redeem myself, which I did with a touchdown catch.
It was a third-and-short situation and the defense was is man coverage and I was split out wide as a receiver with a middle linebacker on me. I don’t even remember who it was trying to cover me. I was just running, trying to get open and make a play. It was a great throw by Mike Glennon and I caught the ball in stride and took it to the end zone. Before we left the huddle, I told Mike, “I got him.” He put the ball where it needed to be.
Of all the things I do on the field, I like lining up outside as a receiver the best, and using my speed to get a mismatch. I’m becoming more and more comfortable doing that the more we do it. Earlier in the mini-camps I struggled a bit getting the right placement on the field. Now I’m getting the hang of it with the timing with Mike.
I think Mike is getting more and more comfortable in the offense. All of the quarterbacks are, really, but Mike had a great day today. He came out and delivered the ball real well. If something were to happen to Josh McCown, we’ll still be in position to win games with Mike. He came out last year as a rookie and really played well considering the circumstances. He put in the work and did what he had to do.
Josh came in and he’s proven he’ll be a great quarterback for us. Mike is still learning the ins and outs of playing quarterback in the NFL. There’s always room to learn, and he’s doing that. He’s getting better and I have a lot of confidence in him.
My confidence is high right now. I got some tattoos on my arms last year that I use for motivation. One is “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” The other one is “Faith over fear” on the inside. All of my tattoos mean something to me. I’ve got one that says “Laugh every day, love beyond words” on my other arm. It just reminds me that you have to laugh and love every day.
Speaking of laughing, we always cut up in the running back room. We’ve got some pretty funny guys in there. There’s not just one class clown. All of the backs we have are pretty goofy. There’s nothing I can really share with you – just a lot of inside jokes between us. When you come in the running back room you have to be prepared to laugh. We cut up just enough to where our position coach, Tim Spencer, doesn’t get upset. He’s kind of a no-nonsense guy.
Bobby Rainey is my roommate, which is great. We’re really good friends and he’s cool. We clown around a little bit, but we also help each other study. In our downtime all we do is study and rest. No video games. No cards. We play a little bit of pool here at One Buc when we get a break, but back at the hotel it’s studying our playbooks or getting some much needed rest because it’s so hot out there.
I’m holding physically pretty well. I’ve just got to make sure to take care of my body. I’ve just got some soreness right now after the first day in pads. I’ve gained some weight this year. The heaviest I got over the summer was 188. I’m maintaining between 183-185 right now.
Last year coming in from track season I weighed in the low 170s, so I’ve gained about 10 pounds of muscle. Everyone’s losing weight around here, but I gained some, which is good.
It feels good to sign autographs for the fans after practice. I try to sign as many as I can for the fans. They come out here and show their support for us on days like today where it’s hot and we especially need it. It’s always good to give back. Thanks for your support, Bucs fans. Looking forward to tomorrow’s practice.
Follow Jeff Demps’ Training Camp Diary exclusively on PewterReport.com and follow Demps on Twitter at @jeffdemps7
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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