Buccaneers Tight End Cameron Brate comments on workouts, off-season, and acquisition of Tom Brady

By: Michelle Sabin

Sports Talk Florida – Bucs reporter.

The team is learning to work in a new virtual way as they get set for the season

With the off-season starting on April 20, there are still many questions surrounding the details of training, workouts and educational programs in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the meantime, facility and gym closings have forced veteran players to adapt in creative ways. Buccaneers Tight End Cameron Brate anticipated the upcoming closures, and in March was able to use the help of his community to create an at-home gym.  Brate explained, “we were able to reach out to neighbors and friends and gather up some equipment, and kinda make a little makeshift gym in the garage.” 

Local gyms were also able to lend a hand.  Brate said he “went to a couple gyms where I’m friends with the owners and was able to gather enough stuff where I could still get a pretty good work out in at home.”   And while he recognizes it’s not the same as working out with a trainer at One Buc, he does think he was able to get himself in a good spot for lifting weights.

It’s the other side of training that is tough to do right now. Brate said that “as far as work outs go in that regard, it hasn’t been too bad, but running routes with the quarterback, working on more football specific stuff, that definitely has been a challenge.”

Although he isn’t running routes with the Bucs quarterbacks, Brate said he has been able to throw the football with his girlfriend, Brooke Skelley, adding “she is my quarterback right now; we are playing a little catch.”

In addition, the Buccaneers’ strength coach was able to reach out to the players to determine what equipment they have available. Brate said it’s “tailored right now to what we have individually, which has been really great; and our strength staff is doing a really good job as far as individualizing everyone’s program.” 

Compounding the uncertainty surrounding the off season, the league is currently in a dead period, where the players are not allowed to talk to the coaches directly (other than strength and conditioning coaches regarding voluntary workouts).  Brate explained,  “starting April 20th that’s when phase one of the off season is going to begin, the players are totally in the dark right now as far as what exactly that’s going to entail.” 

The NFL recently reached an agreement between the league and the players association to hold a virtual offseason while the facilities remain closed, to include classroom instruction, workouts and non-football education programs.  NFL Virtual Offseason .  One challenge is going to be how that is implemented and rolled out.

Brate indicated the off-season “presents a pretty big challenge as far as getting everyone on the same phone calls when you have guys living on the east coast, the west coast; team meetings, special teams meetings, coaches are going to want to have their time with the players.”  He believes this will be a unique challenge, “trying to get everyone on the same page and a good schedule for everyone.”

The direct impact on the teams heading into the 2020 season is still unknown, particularly for those with new head coaches. Brate explained, “everyone is in the same boat right now trying to figure this out, but I do think it presents a pretty big challenge to the teams that have a new head coach, because they have to install all their terminology, all their schemes to the players; doing that remotely and through video, it’s definitely not the same as giving hands-on work on the field [and] having meetings to ask questions.”

Fortunately for the Buccaneers, this isn’t the case. Brate said, “as far as us in Tampa, going into our second season with Coach Arians and Coach Bowles running the defense, we have some familiarity, most guys have some familiarity with the schemes . . . I think we are in a pretty good spot.”

Although one of the biggest additions to the Bucs this year is Quarterback Tom Brady.   Brate said, “it’s a shame we couldn’t get on the fields during the spring with Tom Brady here now, so we are missing out on that work a little, but other than that I think we are in a pretty good spot here.”

Brate has had a chance to talk with Brady, and said “I could tell his excitement for coming down here. I think us on the Bucs we’re probably ten times as excited as he is to be getting a player with his caliber, with his championship pedigree, not even arguably the greatest of all time, definitively the greatest of all time.”  He added, “we are all super pumped to have him and try to learn as much as we can from him, and obviously win as many games as we can over the next couple years.”

In the meantime, Brate will continue his at-home workouts, and is also trying to stay involved with his charity of choice, the Special Olympics. He is trying to help out as much as he can, explaining, “right now it is a little bit harder because you can’t have large groups of people meeting together.”  The Special Olympics recently reached out to Brate to assist on an upcoming virtual project for at-home workouts.

While Brate is keeping his fingers crossed that the Buccaneers will be able to play in the fall, for the time being he is remaining optimistic, saying, “I think pretty much everyone has been caught off guard by this situation,and everyone’s just doing their best to adapt right now, we are all trying to figure it out still; it’s a little bit of a work in progress right now but we are making the best of it.”