Quick. What do A.J. Green, Percy Harvin and Jordan Shipley all have in common?
All three receivers led their respective conference in receiving yards during their rookie season—Harvin, the NFC in 2009, Shipley, the AFC in 2010 and Green, the AFC last year in 2011.
Unfortunately for Shipley, while Green and Harvin are still with the teams that drafted them, the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t like what they were seeing out of Shipley in camp and cut him on Aug. 17.
After catching 52 passes in 2010 for 600 yards and three touchdowns, Shipley tore ligaments in his left knee and missed the 2011 season.
Schiano said the Buccaneers weren’t actively in the market for another receiver because of need; he just couldn’t let a player that had showed that much talent pass by without kicking the tires a bit.
"It's just if you have a chance to investigate a player that you liked, you do it," Schiano said after practice Tuesday. "Now is a time when we can do it."
In his first practice with the Buccaneers, Shipley impressed.
If Shipley is going to make Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster, he’s going to have to fill a need as a slot receiver and/or act as the team’s punt return specialist. Shipley’s first punt return Tuesday gave reason for optimism.
According to a Tampa Tribune report, during his first practice session Shipley pulled down a punt at the 15-yard line, sprinted up through the middle of the field and then bounced outside to race down the sideline for an 85-yard touchdown.
The speed and quick-burst agility that contributed to Shipley’s success at the University of Texas as a punt returner, that allowed Shipley to lead all rookies in 2010 in receptions and receiving yards, the speed and quick-burst agility that the Bengals apparently felt wasn’t coming back, came back.
Now the Buccaneers are in a position to reap the benefits.
Following practice, Schiano said Shipley seemed like “our kind of guy” and Shipley himself said he was a “full-go.”
"It's one of those deals where I spend a little extra time warming up and I'll be icing it afterwards, but if feels good, ready to go,'' Shipley said of his surgically repaired knee. "I definitely feel like I can do anything I have to to contribute and help this team win. I know I have got to go out there and show what I can do, but I'm full-go right now.''