Bradenton - Welcome to Camp Freeman.
As the boys head to the field for day two of their three day unofficial mini-camp, I'm sure inquisitive minds want to know what Commissioner Roger Goodell will say today to the NFL rookie at the symposium going on at IMG Academy here in Bradenton.
Goodell and Players Association Chief DeMaurice Smith will address the rookies this morning at a local Sarasota Hotel.
The fact these two flew down to Sarasota together is more than a subtle hint labor negotiations are moving along to the satisfaction of both parties.
As for camp itself, it didn't surprise me that this get-together was comparable to one we would see over at One Buc, minus Raheem and his gang tutoring after each rep.
Former FSU QB Chris Weinke and his staff at IMG did a very good job in the setup, and keeping the drills flowing and organized.
Then again, you come to expect that type of atmosphere when you step on the IMG Academy grounds.
Here's some simple observations from day one of camp:
Turnout: Somewhere between 45 and 50 Bucs showed up. There were other free-agents working out with the team, like former Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton.
He was with the Giants last year, and from what he told me Tuesday, Clayton expects to be resigned by the Giants once the new CBA is a done deal.
Nonetheless, an excellent turnout that prompted Quarterback Josh Freeman to tell me that "it's a sign this team is hungry to win this year."
Mood: Rather upbeat. I do believe that the tone of the labor talks has a lot to do with their attitude. An agreement in principle can come any day now, at least that was the sentiment at IMG yesterday.
So much so, that Freeman told us that his agent (Tom Condon) is telling him that a resolution " is very close, very close."
Bucs player rep Jeff Faine told me yesterday morning " that he expects the players will hear more in the next few days." He is encouraged.
Freeman went on to say that he thought the only part that might be missing in preparing for the upcoming season would be " possibly a few days of training camp."
Lineman show up: One of the more impressive sightings on day one was the turnout by Bucs offensive and defensive lineman. Even free agents Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood posted. Both would like to resign with Tampa Bay.
Who's in charge: It's not easy for a younger player to get the attention of his team, but Quarterback Josh Freeman has earned his stripes. There is no debate this his team. He had to ride some players to get to camp, but they showed up.
He wouldn't say it, but I'm sure Freeman was taking mental notes of who made the trip to IMG and who didn't. Some veterans had legitimate excuses and circumstances that warranted a "no show" from their agents.
Aqib Talib: Talib did post, and had very little to say. I did get one question in that ended up being the only one he would address on camera. Talib said " It's football. Happy to be with the guys. I've got to go. Talk to you boys later."
There was hardly a hint of anxiety with a felony charge hanging over his head back in Garland, Texas. A hearing on his case is coming up Thursday.
Kellen Winslow: Is this guy ever out of shape? I'm just marveled watching him at just about any point of the year, and he doesn't show a sign of fatigue, or ability. And he's coming of surgery. Almost a freak of nature.
Rookie "blues" ahead: No doubt incoming rookies will be behind the eight ball. No OTA's, no nothing as far as organized preparation for the season ahead. They are going to come in blind, and likely be of little help for at least a half of season. Special teams will be their main forte, as it usually is for most.
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been working with first round pick Adrian Clayborn.
McCoy has taken the rookie under his wing and is trying to give him a leg-up like Warren Sapp gave him before he put his wears on display.
All in all, I'd say this group has their heads screwed on straight.
One final thought: Freeman and some of the higher paid vets paid for the lodging, etc for some of the younger players who didn't have the cash to pay their freight once they got to IMG.
Freeman told them, you get yourself here, we'll take care of the rest. Enough said.