Selected in the first-round of any NFL Draft is big pressure, and while Tristan Wirfs isn’t the first Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie to face the spotlight, he’s certainly had the most unique situation placed in his path.
Drafted into a COVID-19 NFL, Wirfs has had zero OTAs, no rookie camps, and really no time to have real professional assistance with getting set for his first training camp. Add to it, he’s been running with the first-team, AND he’s protecting legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
I mean, as uphill climbs go, this one is a calf-burner extraordinaire.
When Donovan Smith met with media following practice on Tuesday, he was asked by Greg Auman of The Athletic about how his rookie teammate was doing thus far. To which, Smith had this to say,
“Making that jump from college to the pros, and expect to start is tough, but he’s doing a great job over there right now for the circumstances we had. Not having OTAs and stuff I think he’s pretty much ahead of where I pretty much would’ve thought he would’ve been.”
Nobody is saying Wirfs has been perfect, but Smith is the latest in a line of Buccaneers who have praised the rookie for his readiness and performance in training camp up to this point.
Of course, there was a moment in time where the thought of Smith being in camp with his rookie teammate was not a solid one. Smith openly questioned the idea of playing in 2020 receiving a largely mixed reaction from the social media landscape.
However, as the initial deadline to opt out came and went, there was no choice made by Smith to sit out the year. Asked about his decision to play, Smith said, “You know, with the protocols and stuff, they’re pretty good...Spreading everybody out, hand sanitizer and stuff, masks everywhere. With the daily testing and everything, and having those results, you know for me it just boiled down to having the ability to go a different place from my lady and my child if anything was to happen. So that was the deciding factor there.”
Smith clarified he’s currently living at home with his family, but appreciated the fact he had an option to stay at an offsite location if he were to test positive, so he could protect his loved ones if need be.
It’s certainly a unique situation for Smith and all of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates to operate in and it’s more than fair for all players to feel comfortable they can do their jobs as safely as possible for their families.
Good news all around thus far. More to come for sure, so be sure to keep it tuned to BucsNation!