Black looks to impress new Bucs staff

Former Gator safety Ahmad Black works during the first day of Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice at One Buc Place in Tampa on Friday. (Photo by Scott Wheeler/The Ledger)

Published: Friday, July 27, 2012 at 6:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 27, 2012 at 6:23 p.m.

TAMPA — A year ago, Florida standout defensive back Ahmad Black was just making sure he knew how to get to One Buc Place.

A fifth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Black was trying to grasp all the concepts of the defense while still making enough of an impression to make the squad.

This year, Black comes in with a different feeling. Instead of trying to grasp the little concepts, he's already flying around the ball, intent to show the new coaching staff why he was drafted.

“I think he has really great feet,” said assistant defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. “I think he's got great quickness. He's very instinctual. He'll go play the ball in the air. He gets to the ball. He's one of those guys who is always around the ball and always making plays.”

During the first day of camp, he missed a couple of opportunities for interceptions but was around the ball as he continues to work on his timing. Still, compared to last year, Black feels like he is light years ahead.

“That's the big thing,” Black said. “I'm more comfortable in what I'm doing. I had a good offseason and made sure I knew my stuff. Last year, with the lockout, I didn't get to buckle down on the stuff.”

In addition, during the first preseason game, Black suffered a high ankle sprain that took him out the rest of the preseason. The Bucs cut Black to get to the roster limit but quickly re-signed him to the team's practice squad.

There, he waited his turn until finally getting the call in December.

The safety played in the team's final four games and ended the season with five tackles and one fumble recovery.

During the offseason workouts, Black has been working as the nickel safety, while backing up Ronde Barber in regular formations.

In between, he would go down to South Florida and work out with Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, his teammates at both Lakeland High School and UF, almost on a weekly basis.

He said after sitting on the sidelines for the first 12 weeks of the season last year, he wanted to be ready to show his stuff this camp.

“I just want to play football,” Black said. “Regardless of where I'm at — on punts, kickoffs, defense, wherever ... wherever coach needs me, that's where I want to play.”

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