TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Offensive tackle Anthony Collins sprinted toward the shaved ice truck parked next to the practice field, arriving just ahead of running back Doug Martin and a bunch of other Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The team finished a three-day mandatory minicamp in the hot Florida sun on Thursday, with interested players snacking on frozen treats courtesy of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
Next up is a six-week break before the start of their first training camp under coach Lovie Smith, who declared an offseason of reshaping the roster and installing new offensive and defensive systems a resounding success.
“We like the team. We like the way they’ve come to work every day for voluntary work. We like the way they came to work this week for the mandatory work,” Smith said. “Everybody’s here. We left on a high note. And how often do you get to finish with a sno-cone?”
Smith wasn’t the only person smiling.
The Bucs signed two more draft picks, with first-rounder Mike Evans agreeing to a four-year deal worth more than $14 million, with a club option for a fifth season. Third-round selection Charles Sims also reached terms, leaving second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins as the club’s only unsigned rookie.
“It’s just a blessing, man,” Evans said. “I’ve never seen that many zeroes. It’s pretty tight … a dream come true.”
The 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver from Texas A&M was the seventh overall pick in the draft and is being counted on to become an immediate starter for a unit that ranked last in the NFL in total offense last season.
Evans was Johnny Manziel favorite target in college, finishing with 151 receptions for 2,499 yards and 17 touchdowns in 26 games. He notched the two highest single-game receiving performances in Texas A&M history with a 287-yard outing against Auburn and 279-yard day against Alabama.
After making quite an offseason during rookie minicamp and some early OTA sessions, Evans was held out of drills this week because of a hamstring strain that he expects to heal before the start of training camp on July 25.
“I was just getting a lot of mental reps, doing walk-throughs and stuff like that,” Evans said, adding that getting contract negotiations out of the way was a “big relief.”
“I’m already a part of the team,” he said. “It feels good to have it on paper.”
Smith encouraged players to get away from football and enjoy themselves “because we have a long haul coming up, beginning with donning pads for the first time in training camp.
“We’re where we need to be, I think, right now. I think we’re going to be a good football team,” the coach said. “But the next part of the evaluation, seeing the players in pads, is pretty important.”
McCoy was happy to give his teammates a head-start of enjoying their time off.
“These are my brothers, this is my family. We’ve been working hard since April, we’re all about to go on break,” McCoy said. “I figure it’s hot out here, I’ll do something nice for my family.”
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