It’s been over 20 years since the last time Bruce Arians had to get ready for the start of a football season without some preseason games to help get his team ready to play games that count.
Arians was the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama in 1997. He’s been in the NFL ever since. Without a preseason, Arians knows that the season opener against the New Orleans Saints on September 13 will sneak up rather quickly and they’ll need to make sure they’re ready to play.
“It’s totally different,” Arians said of the altered reality of training camp in 2020, via Taylor Jenkins of PewterReport.com. “This isn’t spring football, we’re getting ready to play a game. We won’t have any preseason so we’re going to have to tackle each other, which I don’t like doing but it’s necessary. Our clock’s ticking for the Saints, so we’re not in spring practice right now.”
Rookies haven’t had a rookie mini-camp, OTAs and a June mini-camp to get some on-field application for their new teams and playbooks. New veterans to town such as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have a stronger knowledge base to pull from but are still learning a new team, teammates and coaching staff. Contact is usually extremely limited in training camp as teams attempt to keep players healthy for the season ahead. Now contact will be more essential to prepare the players physically for tackling and the pounding of running into other bodies at speed.
Arians said the Buccaneers’ veterans reported to camp in great shape with some of the rookies needing to play some catch-up.
“I’m real pleased with the veterans,” Arians said. “I think the rookies look like they would have showed up for rookie mini-camp right after the draft, some of them just don’t know how to train. Not all of them, some of them were in great shape. The veterans knew what to expect and I was really really pleased with the conditioning of the group.”