Buccaneers Rakeem Nunez-Roches prepared for increased role on defense


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – “Don’t count the plays. Make the plays count.”

Does that statement inspire you to run through a brick wall at the speed of an NFL defensive lineman like Rakeem Nunez-Roches?

He has proven he is a valuable part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive unit and, with the injury to Vita Vea, he will be seeing even more snaps in the upcoming games.

“To be honest with you,” said Nunez-Roches in a Zoom interview on Tuesday, “it’s not a big shocker as far as my role having to increase because every time I come to work and in my whole offseason I’m preparing to be a starter.”

I witnessed it in June when I visited Nunez-Roches at the Trench Academy, which is located inside the D1 Training facility in Tampa.

He had the same mindset at that time and, honestly, he did not know if he would have the opportunity to step on the field this season because of the pandemic.

“I want to be somewhere where the team depends on me,” he said in that interview in June, “so when I get ready to train, I am like, ‘Don’t be the guy that slacks! Don’t be the reason that we lose! Don’t be the reason we get a penalty!’ so when I come in here that is what I put into my preparation.”

Nunez-Roches has been preparing tirelessly for months and, now, his efforts are going to be rewarded.

“If you’re preparing to be a backup, you’re in the wrong game,” he said on Tuesday. “I come to work as if I’m going to be out there playing 50 to 60 plays. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I fit where I’m supposed to be at. For my role to change, it doesn’t change my preparation and it doesn’t change my mentality. It’s just understanding my role is bigger and I have the opportunity.”

The opportunity is well deserved and, in my humble opinion, the Green Bay Packers’ offensive should be worried about Nunez-Roches on Sunday.

“Defeat the man in front of you,” he said, “and everybody is going to make plays. The plays will come to you. Don’t get out of your gap. Don’t do anything special. Just put your personality within the play.”


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