TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Buccaneers began phase two of their offseason program this week, leading up to next weekend’s rookie minicamp at the AdventHealth Training Center.

The newest Bucs players will get their first taste of the NFL and the next chapter in their football careers. As exciting as it is for them, the coaches are also eager to begin working with their rookie class.

“We’re teachers,” said Bucs Co-Defensive Coordinator and Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote. “I don’t want to compare it to elementary teachers, but you’re just excited when guys get here during this time of the year. I can’t wait until next week, get to know those guys. It’s exhausting, trust me. You’ve got to start off day one just making the close calls and stuff like that, so I’ve got to get into the swing of things. I’m doing a lot of studying just so I can be sharp for those guys, but I take this position very seriously because this is their dreams. I’ve been in their shoes, so I want to give them everything I got; just embrace that proud papa role.”

“By the end of two-a-days, by their body language, I’ll know exactly if they’re getting it or not getting it,” said Bucs Safeties Coach Nick Rapone. “I’ll know if they’re stuck. That’s the biggest thing. Any time you get a new classroom, you have to learn their personalities because everybody learns different. This guy gets embarrassed if you point him out all the time. This guy doesn’t care if you point him out all the time. [At] the end of the day, I have to impart the information to make that young man better. So it’s just knowing the person and then you can teach a lot better once you know that person.”

As the incoming players get to work in their playbook, learning everything they can, the defensive rookies will have the benefit of continuity on their coaching staff. Most of the defensive coaches have been working together with the Bucs for the past four seasons—now going into year five. 

“It really helps as far as a lot of time the working relationships,” said Bucs Co-Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers. “A lot of times I’ve been on some staffs where they get destroyed before they even take the field, but with our staff has been together since 2019 and then the addition of Coach [George] Edwards. [You] go back, I worked with Coach Edwards (for the) first time in 2008, so I’ve been knowing him for years. Todd [Bowles] worked with him prior, so there’s really, really a lot of continuity on our side of the ball. We share the same philosophy and ultimately the same goal, so that really helps. We agree to disagree but when we come out, everybody is on the same page and let’s go get it.”