TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter made a surprising announcement to the media Monday after practice, ending all the discussion surrounding who would become the new slot receiver to complement Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.
“Let’s just end the big mystery about this No. 3 wide receiver, okay? Adam Humphries is going to be our No. 3 wide receiver," said Koetter, adding "[When] you talk about the definition of a consistent player, there’s Adam Humphries’ picture right there."
Interestingly though, when Koetter made the announcement, he hadn't even broken the news to Humphries himself. When he did learn the news moments later, though, just as he was coming off the field, his demeanor didn't change much.
"Obviously, that's good to hear from the head man, but you've got to keep the edge and keep working hard each day," said the undrafted free agent out of Clemson."I've got to earn the spot every day, no matter what he said. I could mess up or I can keep getting better, so that's what I'm going to do. I just put my head down and work, and whatever he says is good."
The announcement came as a surprise because veteran players haven't even been in training camp for a week, but for quarterback Jameis Winston, it reaffirmed something he's believed all along.
"I'm not surprised by that at all. Adam is a great player for us. He's a third-down machine for us," said Winston upon learning the news. "He's had a great camp and last year, he was one of my best targets. If you think about the first play of the year, me and that guy bounced back from that quickly and had a great season together."
In Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans, on the first passing play of Winston's pro career in what should have been an easy third-and-short, he attempted to find Humphries on a slant pattern and was intercepted by Coty Sensabaugh, who returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.
Then later in the season, Louis Murphy went to IR with a torn ACL and Jackson mixed six games with a knee injury, meaning that after Evans, Winston had to rely on Humphries, Russell Shepard and Donteea Dye as his second and third options.
Winston went on to throw for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns his rookie season, making the Pro Bowl as an alternate. Humphries wound up seeing action in 13 games, finishing with 260 receiving yards and a touchdown, which was fifth on the team.
"That's just how it is in this game," Winston said of their early mistakes together. "You've got to get back up and try again, and I definitely trust that guy with all my heart. I know Coach Koetter trusts him and this team trusts him. That's a big thing for him. I'm sure when he hears that, he's going to work even harder."