TAMPA – Nothing like a visit to the White House and receiving a manhole cover-sized Super Bowl ring to make you forget about last year.

But that’s what the Bucs need to do when they show up to training camp on Saturday to start preparing for the 2021 season as defending NFL champions.

Like 31 other teams, they suffered a steep fall from the top of the league.

The first practice will take place on Sunday and the first preseason game will take place on August 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

All 22 starters are returning from the Super Bowl 55 squad and job offers will be scarce. That said, Bucs players and coaches insist they don’t hang on to yesterday.

“It’s the whole building thing. Nobody is worried about last year, ”said linebacker Devin White. “Yes, obviously we got the same team back and we know what that team did. But we are working to build it together again and be better than last year.

“That’s all we’re talking about is stacking the days, and the only thing that matters is when we’re on the pitch at that time. Tomorrow doesn’t count and yesterday doesn’t count. Everything revolves around this day and this moment.

That’s the influence of quarterback Tom Brady, arguably the most process-oriented player in the league.

Even as the Bucs prepared for one final victory lap last week, with Brady making jokes with President Joe Biden and the players pounding him with their rings on Instagram, coach Bruce Arians had already informed his players about prepare for a grueling training camp with the sole goal of improving for 2021.

“It’s the new year. The coach did an incredible job setting the tone, ”said defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. “… The focus is on the task ahead. All that happened in the last year is water under the bridges.

“He laid out the pillars and expectations of every guy, and you have to earn your place, every guy.”

A year ago, Arians said the Bucs had to defeat COVID-19 before they could worry about other opponents.

On Thursday, the NFL informed all 32 teams that in the event that a game cannot be rescheduled due to an outbreak of COVID-19 that is coming from unvaccinated players, that team will lose the game. It will also have an impact on the playoff standings.

A year ago, without a vaccine, only three Bucs players missed games due to COVID-19: running back Ronald Jones, White and kicking receiver / returner Jaydon Mickens.

The Bucs placed safety Jordan Whitehead on the reserve / COVID-19 list on Friday. Whitehead, who performed in the Super Bowl with a torn rotator cuff, did not accompany the Bucs on their visit to the White House on Tuesday or attend the ring ceremony on Thursday.

Receiver John Franklin (knee) and defensive back Chris Wilcox (hamstring) will start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

With the continuity of the coaching staff – both offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles return – the Bucs will start the 2021 season long before they were a year ago.

“We didn’t have the facility in the (mini) camp,” White said. “We just hit the ground running. We haven’t had a meeting. This time when we got there it was straight to practice. because they know we know our stuff. Attack and defense. It’s the good thing to have guys who have been in the system. … We have the best defensive coordinator in the game, so now he can call more.

Despite their best efforts, there is no denying that winning a Super Bowl has changed the trajectory of their careers and their lives.

“We have all helped turn the tide. This is the number 1 reason I will be remembered forever, ”White said. “And the second way it impacted my life is that it got me more notoriety because when you’re in the playoffs, there aren’t too many games.”

Receiver Mike Evans agreed. “People recognize me more and more, and it’s always like ‘Congratulations on a Super Bowl’ and ‘Go get another’, so that’s cool.”

Now if only the Bucs can forget about that Super Bowl they won less than six months ago.

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