TAMPA, Fla. — Not Tom Brady, very few veterans and no starters attended the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first organized team activity (OTA). Instead, Brady and his receivers held passing sessions next door to Raymond James Stadium at the New York Yankees spring training facility on Monday morning.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians prefers his players working at the team facility.
“That’s fine, that’s great,” Arians said. “I’d rather see them do it here protection-wise.”
Last summer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the practice facility was closed to players. That’s when Brady organized practices at Berkley Prep.
“Last year was so different because of the pandemic,” Arians said. “They can be here, but they wouldn’t be practicing, they could be working on this field. I’d love to see them all out here together.”
Veteran running back Giovani Bernard is in his first season with Tampa Bay. He worked out Monday off-site with Brady then practiced Tuesday at the facility.
"Quite honestly, if I can do both, I'm going to try to do both,” Bernard said. “I’m going to see if I can get another throwing session with Tom. It's not a battle between this or that, I think guys, at the end of the day, just want to work. I can only really speak for myself."
Bernard, running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, tight end Tanner Hudson and defensive end Anthony Nelson attended the first OTA as well. Arians said previously he did not want to see any of the Bucs’ 22 returning starters from the Super Bowl LV championship team at OTAs, at least not on the field.
“I’d love to have you in the meetings, do some team building,” Arians said. “We’ve got some guys that have come in and out, but as far as if you’re a starter you weren’t going to be on the field anyway.”
Arians mentioned “protection-wise” is the reason he prefers the players working at the Bucs facility.
For example, if a player were to get injured during one of those off-site workouts, the team could handle it as a non-football injury and not have to pay the player's salary. That very situation has already happened in Denver where right tackle Ja'Wuan James tore his anterior cruciate ligament and the team may not pay his salary since it was done outside of team facilities.