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        Beyond The Ball — training camp

        Auclair’s Bucs Training Camp Diary: There Is No Pressure

        Auclair’s Bucs Training Camp Diary: There Is No Pressure

        Tampa Bay rookie tight end Antony Auclair was one of the most sought after undrafted free agents by Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. In fact, the Bucs had a draftable grade on Auclair and were thrilled when he signed with the team because they wanted another “F” tight end – a tight end that could block and catch as opposed to a “Y” tight end like Cameron Brate, who is primarily a receiving tight end. Dirk Koetter’s offense features two- and three-tight end sets quite often, and with veteran Luke Stocker, who is 29, entering his seventh season in the league, finding two tight ends that could block was crucial for the future of the position, which is why Auclair, who is very physical blocker, was signed even though the Bucs spent a first-round pick on tight end O.J. Howard.

        Auclair, who has a thick French-Canadian accent, isn’t your typical tight end. He hails from Notre-Dame-des-Pins in Québec, Canada where he played at Laval Université where he caught 17 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Auclair had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in Laval’s 31-26 win over Calgary in the Vanier Cup, which is the equivalent of the National Championship Game in American college football. While he was ranked as the second overall pick in the Canadian Football League, Auclair always had his sights set on playing in the National Football League.

        The Bucs were one of many teams to travel to Canada for his pro day after he opened a lot of eyes at the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. in mid-January. Despite a hamstring injury, Auclair ran a 4.82 in the 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times. Now that he’s in Tampa, Auclair has the challenge of quickly learning the game of American football and fighting for a roster spot with Alan Cross and Tevin Westbrook behind Brate, Howard and Stocker on the depth chart. Follow Auclair’s journey into NFL football in Tampa Bay in his Training Camp Diary exclusively on PewterReport.com – and learn to speak French-Canadian, too.

        There Is No Pressure
        By Antony Auclair as told to Scott Reynolds
        I’ve played in two preseason games now and it was an awesome feeling going out for my first preseason game. I was on the opening kickoff in Cincinnati, so I got to play on the first play of the game, which was great. I was a little bit anxious, but I feel like I had a great game. I actually think I played better in that game than I did last week in Jacksonville. Blocking-wise I was better in Cincinnati. I did a good job in Jacksonville, but sometimes my angles in that game weren’t as good as they were in the first game.

        On a third-and-short play against Jacksonville I took a bad angle and missed my block. I think my guy made the tackle, but you have to move on to the next play. That’s how it is. You have to forget the last play and move on, which I did. We went for it on fourth down and I had a much better block and we made the first down.

        I did make my first catch in Jacksonville, which was really cool. It was third-and-9 – a pressure play, and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a low ball and I made a nice catch for nine yards and the first down. I was really happy about that. My game wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t as good as the first one. I had a bad taste in my mouth after our last game.

        My roommate, Sefo Liufau, is now getting some playing time with the unfortunate injury to our backup quarterback Ryan Griffin. That’s how this game is. The next has to step up and he’s doing really well. He didn’t have many reps in practice at all and then in comes into the Cincinnati game and balls out. He’s doing great and I’m happy for him.

        I’m always working with Fitzpatrick on the second team and I think we are really connecting right now. We’re getting better together and I’m really excited about that.

        Everybody in our tight ends room is really good. I mean they are all good. It’s a good fighting group. Everybody competes hard and I can really learn from these guys. I have to compete every practice. It’s super competitive. With this heat, it’s really hard, but you have to grind every day. Training camp is a hard grind. I’m getting used to the heat, but sometimes it’s really hard to breathe. I’m glad we’re playing some night games in the preseason because this weather is crazy down here.

        I’m not really thinking about making the team. I’m focused on the next practice, the next game and always getting better. I always want to correct the things I did wrong and get better. I’m not thinking about making the team. I’m thinking about getting better.

        The fourth preseason game is where I will see a lot of action, but there’s no pressure on me. Football is fun. This game is fun and we play the game because we love it. There’s no pressure, just play and have fun.

        I really enjoy blocking and there’s only so much we can do in practice because it’s not like a game. I’m a physical player and a physical tight end and that shows up in the games. Where I have to improve is route running and I think I’m doing a better job at running my routes. I still have to get better, but I have to improve there. I also still need to work on my blocking, especially the right angles, which I didn’t do great in Jacksonville.

        The speed of our linebackers here in Tampa Bay is fast and I thought they might be the fastest, but I think everybody in the NFL has fast linebackers. The ‘backers in Jacksonville were also really fast. But going against our guys in practice is making me better on my cut-off blocks. They are fast, so I have to take better angles and that’s what I’m focused on.

        Our next preseason game is at home – finally – at Raymond James Stadium down the street. It’s going to be awesome. I’m looking forward to it playing at home, but I haven’t really thought about it until this week because I’m focused on the next practice. But it’s going to be great running out of our tunnel with our fans there.

        Auclair’s French-Canadian Phrase Of The Day
        I’m also going to teach you some French-Canadian in my Bucs Training Camp Diary on PewterReport.com. Here’s today’s phrase is “Où sont les toilettes s’il?” It’s a French way of saying, “Can you please tell me where the restroom is?” in English. After “What are we eating?” that’s the second-most important phrase!

        Original Article By: Scott Reynolds via Pewter Report

        Jalen Reeves-Maybin: The Future Of The Lions Defense

        Jalen Reeves-Maybin: The Future Of The Lions Defense

        Original Article by: Lucas Walker via Detroit Lions Podcast

        Jalen Reeves-Maybin was born on January 31st, 1995. Raised in Clarksville, Tennessee, Reeves-Maybin went to Northeast High School. During his high school career, Reeves-Maybin actually played running back, which is a testament to how athletic he is. In his senior season, he rushed for 2,000 yards, including three postseason games where he ran for over 300 yards in each of them. In 2013, he joined the Tennessee Volunteers and started his collegiate career.

        Reeves-Maybin was also a backup and special teamer for his first collegiate season in 2013. He recorded 14 tackles that season. His breakout came sooner than Davis’ though, as Reeves-Maybin cracked the starting lineup as a weakside linebacker in 2014. That year, he played every game, making 101 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception.

        His dominance would continue into his junior season in 2015 when he topped his previous year, this time recording 105 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks, four passes defended and two forced fumbles. This included an epic game against the Oklahoma Sooners where Reeves-Maybin recorded 21 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one pass defended and a forced fumble. This is especially impressive because the Sooners had two runningbacks who are now in the NFL: Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.

        In 2016, disaster struck for Reeves-Maybin. Four weeks into the season, he suffered a shoulder injury which knocked him out for the season. There is no questioning that Reeves-Maybin had great talent, but now there are questions about whether or not he will be able to ever fully come back from the injury.

        The Detroit Lions decided to take a chance on Jalen Reeves-Maybin and drafted him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He will have a chance to compete for the starting role at the weakside linebacker spot this training camp and preseason.

        PASS COVERAGE

        Jalen Reeves-Maybin is a very athletic linebacker with the ability to cover quick running backs or tight ends, and even receivers. Here is a play where Reeves-Maybin is in man coverage against a wide receiver. The receiver is running a crossing route. Typically, this route is effective against linebackers because it allows receivers to use their speed to run away from them, but not here. Reeves-Maybin gets a good press on the receiver, then sticks with him throughout his route. Because of the good coverage, the Tennessee defense gets a sack. I strongly believe that any of the Lions linebackers from last year would be unable to cover this kind of route.

         

         

        There are plenty of linebackers with the athleticism to do what Reeves-Maybin does though. What really sets Reeves-Maybin apart is his instincts – he has a really good idea of how most plays are going to develop. This results in one of the first things I notice when I watch his game film: an uncanny ability to blow up screen passes. Here is an example.

        Reeves-Maybin is covering the running back, who motions out of the backfield to the slot receiver position. Reeves-Maybin follows him out there, and sees that it is a screen pass to the running back as the pass is thrown almost as soon as the ball is snapped. Jalen Reeves-Maybin does a fantastic job of getting around his blocker, then puts a big hit on the back. Reeves-Maybin knew exactly how the play was going to develop, and as a result, he stopped the running back for a big loss.

         

         

        RUN DEFENSE

        Jalen Reeves-Maybin contributes to run defense through his speed and play recognition ability. He is not as strong as most other NFL linebackers, but his quickness and intelligence enables him to have an impact despite being a smaller linebacker. Here are a few examples of Jalen Reeves-Maybin’s ability to stop running plays.

        On this 3rd down and one play against Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt runs a fullback dive play. This is a very commonly run play in short yardage situations, and Reeves-Maybin does a fantastic job of recognizing it. He immediately finds a gap in the offensive line and shoots through it. Reeves-Maybin is then the first defender to the ball carrier, and wraps him up. Teammates come in to help Reeves-Maybin finish the tackle, and Vanderbilt is stopped short of the first down marker.

         

         

        On this play against the Oklahoma Sooners, Reeves-Maybin does not bring down the runner at the line of scrimmage or for a loss. What he does, however, is show great determination and heart as he chases the running back down all the way across the field. The running back cuts the run to the opposite direction of Reeves-Maybin, but Reeves-Maybin is not deterred. He pursues the back all the way to the opposite side of the field, and brings him down for a medium gain. This is the kind of play that likely would have gone for a much bigger gain against the Lions linebackers from 2016.

         

         

        BLITZING/QB SPYING ABILITY

        Jalen Reeves-Maybin is an extremely effective pass rusher from the middle or 4-3 outside linebacker position. He had six sacks in 2015, which is an extremely high number for a 4-3 linebacker. He is also great at tracking the quarterback when he is spying. Here is an example of each.

        On this play, Davis is spying the Oklahoma quarterback. Reeves-Maybin stays about two yards in front of the line of scrimmage so he can see whether or not the quarterback will scramble. The quarterback instead tries to throw a pass over the middle, but Reeves-Maybin does a tremendous job of jumping up and deflecting the pass. This play was nearly an interception because Reeves-Maybin is effective at spying the quarterback and because of his great instincts.

         

         

        Against BGSU, Jalen Reeves-Maybin had a very good game. Here, he sacks the quarterback on a key red zone third down. It is a blitz all the way from Reeves-Maybin, and he does a great job of finding a hole in the offensive line between the left tackle and guard. Reeves-Maybin accelerates through and gets a clean hit on the quarterback before he can get rid of the ball. Because of Reeves-Maybin’s speed, he is extremely effective at blitzing. He can run right through the offensive line if he is unaccounted for.

         

         

        LEADERSHIP

        Jalen Reeves-Maybin was also a team captain at Tennessee. He too will have a chance to become a leader on the Lions defense. Where I believe he will really inspire teammates is with his effort though. On nearly every play, Reeves-Maybin ends up near where the ball is. He leaves it all on the field every game, and I believe that this passion for football makes him a great fit as a potential future leader of the Lions defense.

        Antony Auclair Bucs Training Camp Diary: I’ve Always Wanted To Compete With The Best

        Antony Auclair Bucs Training Camp Diary: I’ve Always Wanted To Compete With The Best

        Original Article by: Scott Reynolds via PewterReport.com

        Tampa Bay Bucs rookie tight end Antony Auclair was one of the most sought after undrafted free agents by Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. In fact, the Bucs had a draftable grade on Auclair and were thrilled when he signed with the team because they wanted another “F” tight end – a tight end that could block and catch as opposed to a “Y” tight end like Cameron Brate, who is primarily a receiving tight end. Dirk Koetter’s offense features two- and three-tight end sets quite often, and with veteran Luke Stocker, who is 29, entering his seventh season in the league, finding two tight ends that could block was crucial for the future of the position, which is why Auclair, who is very physical blocker, was signed even though the Bucs spent a first-round pick on tight end O.J. Howard.

        Auclair, who has a thick French-Canadian accent, isn’t your typical tight end. He hails from Notre-Dame-des-Pins in Québec, Canada where he played at Laval Université where he caught 17 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Auclair had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in Laval’s 31-26 win over Calgary in the Vanier Cup, which is the equivalent of the National Championship Game in American college football. While he was ranked as the second overall pick in the Canadian Football League, Auclair always had his sights set on playing in the National Football League.

        The Bucs were one of many teams to travel to Canada for his pro day after he opened a lot of eyes at the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. in mid-January. Despite a hamstring injury, Auclair ran a 4.82 in the 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times. Now that he’s in Tampa, Auclair has the challenge of quickly learning the game of American football and fighting for a roster spot with Alan Cross and Tevin Westbrook behind Brate, Howard and Stocker on the depth chart. Follow Auclair’s journey into NFL football in Tampa Bay in his Training Camp Diary exclusively on PewterReport.com – and learn to speak French-Canadian, too.

        I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO COMPETE WITH THE BEST
        By Antony Auclair as told to Scott Reynolds
        Salut! Yes, I’m Canadian, but no, I don’t follow hockey and I actually don’t know how to skate. I think I’m messed up! I love football and in the wintertime I would go out and play football in the snow with a couple friends. We would tackle and everything. It’s different because you can tackle in the snow. It was better than the grass.

        I had to have a good season at Laval in 2016 so that I could be invited to the East-West Shrine Game. That was a goal, but my goal is always to win the Vanier Cup championship, which I did, and after that I was invited to the East-West Shrine Game. It was different. I was anxious at first with the new rules and style of play, but my first day and the game were my best days. From there a lot of scouts saw me and came over to Québec City for my pro day.

        The Buccaneers were there and I did it with a pulled hamstring. I ran a 4.82 in the 40-yard dash with a pulled hamstring. My times were off a little bit. I think I’m more of a 4.7 guy. I move a lot better than what I showed at the pro day. After that I did like 10 visits to the United States, so I didn’t have time to rehab my hamstring properly. Tampa was my best visit and that’s why I came here. They told me I was a good fit and they liked me. I also had a good vibe here, a good feeling with the G.M., Jason Licht, the coaches and everyone. Tampa felt the best and I think you have to go with your feelings. Of course there was a bit of hesitation with O.J. Howard being picked in the first round, but I’ve always wanted to compete with the best. This is not just a one tight end offense. It’s a two-tight end offense and sometimes three.

        Being from Canada, it is [expletive] hot down here, man! I pulled a hamstring in OTAs because I was dehydrated. I’ve got to do a better job hydrating. It’s my fourth day out here since we had the two days of rookie camp, so everything is good so far. I’m learning. I’ve had a few mistakes here and there, but I think I’m doing good things too. The point is not to repeat the same mistakes. So I think I’m on the right path.

        Today I had a bad drop, but you have to move on to the next play. After that I had good pass protections, some good routes and some good blocks. The pass protection is important. We need to protect the quarterback. If you’re a tight end it’s blocking first, and then catching balls to me.

        We had the OTAs and then the rookie mini-camp, so I’ve been studying the playbook all summer, just figuring out things and learning a new game. It’s pretty much the same thing. At the end of the day, football is football. There are some differences like the line of scrimmage, where the D-line lines up, and the routes are deeper and everything. I kind of learned the new rules for the motions because we don’t have rules for the motions in Canada. Everybody could go in motion at any time up there. For me that is the main difference right now.

        I like that the Bucs offense features tight ends a lot in the passing game. I get to run routes on certain plays and do run blocks on others. You do it all and that’s what I like about this offense. I’m looking forward to the pads coming on tomorrow. I feel like I can do good things blocking. It is a good part of my game and I’m looking forward to it. It’s hard to decide between whether catching a touchdown or pancaking someone feels better. I think catching a touchdown gets me hyped a little bit more, but pancaking someone, especially the D-line, is very fun.

        I’ve been able to connect with some of the others who played in Canada – (wide receiver) Derel Walker and (linebacker) Jeff Knox. Knox is a good friend. He played in Canada and knows a little bit about Canada, so it is cool having him around.

        There is also a lot of talent in the tight end room. Cam Brate is one of the best tight ends in the league and Luke is a really good blocker. Alan Cross and Westbrook are good too. They’re all good. I’ve got to pick up some things from those guys and apply it to my game and get better.

        These linebackers are fast and it’s different than in Canada and in college. Guys were good up there, but not as fast. Here, the linebackers are big and fast. I’ve got to use my size and my long arms to be physical with them and that is where I’m going to win. As a tight end I’ve looked at a lot of different guys that I model my game after – guys that are good at blocking and at catching. Jason Witten, the guy from Houston, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Luke Stocker is one of them, and Cam Brate is good at blocking, too. I’ve been looking at a lot of guys to pick up the things they are doing and apply it to my game.

        Buccaneers fans, I’m a player that is going to play with my heart at all times. Every play I’m going to give 100 percent and it comes directly from my heart. With my accent it is sometimes hard to express myself fully, but I’m getting there.

        Auclair’s French-Canadian Word Of The Day
        I’m also going to teach you some French-Canadian in my Bucs Training Camp Diary on PewterReport.com. Here’s today’s word – Salut. It’s an informal French greeting, equivalent to saying “Hello” in English.