TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a serious need for a third wide receiver, and Adam Humphries is hoping to be their guy. The 2015 undrafted free agent out of Clemson saw action in 13 games last season, and is counting on that experience to help in his quest not just to make the 53-man roster, but to win the slot receiver job.
"I feel like the slot position is a position that I can win," Humphries said after Saturday's training camp practice. "Obviously last year I'm just kind of moving around everywhere, just trying to play every role: special teams, offense, everything ... just trying to make the -man roster. But this year I feel like I can contribute in the slot position."
Last year he caught 27 of 41 passes thrown his way last year for 260 yards and a touchdown. Those aren't staggering numbers, but in a wide receiver group that has only four players with three years' experience or more, and four with just one year under their belts, experience of any kind is huge.
"It brings me a lot of confidence, just knowing I've played in games, I've played in some overtime wins, that adds confidence to me," said Humphries, who also noted that going through the install of the offense for the fourth time and being in his second year of Dirk Koetter's offense has helped quite a bit.
"We've got 12 receivers out there that can really play. So my mindset is, just gotta earn the spot and no matter where I am on the depth chart, I still gotta earn it and work every day. But there is a little more level of comfort of just knowing the offense better and knowing more guys around the locker room, so that definitely helps. But just gotta keep grinding and keep getting better every day.”
At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Humphries doesn't have the size of Vincent Jackson or Mike Evans, nor does he really have the interchangeability to move inside and out like Louis Murphy and Kenny Bell. His role would be specifically in the slot and that suits him just fine.
"Growing up I always wanted to be a basketball player, honestly," said Humphries. "And then I realized I was short, so just going into my junior year I got the offer from Clemson for football. It really never discouraged me because guys like Wes Welker, guys like that making plays in big time games gave me hope."
He added, "I just kept working my craft, and obviously I'm not going to be able to do things that Vincent can do or Mike can do, but there's little things that I can do that can help this team, so I work at that.”
He did stop to marvel at those "two monsters on the outside," as he calls them, known for their statuesque frames, big catch radiuses and vertical leaping ability -- the perfect recipe for jaw-dropping acrobatic catches.
"With Mike being 6-5, 230, and then Vincent Jackson being 6-5, 230, if I was playing Madden, that would be the guy that I would create, just the perfect human being for a receiver," Humphries joked. "And then you got me in there at 5-11!"
After Jackson and Evans, there's Louis Murphy, who has starting experience. He is recovering from a torn ACL from last season and is on the active/PUP list.
By the looks of things, Humphries' biggest competition is coming from Bell, Donteea Dye and Bernard Reedy, who are all competing not just for receiver spots but for the punt returner job, too. Jonathan Krause is a newcomer who was just claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles, and he had two punt returns for touchdowns in college.
In 69 punt returns in college, Humphries averaged 6.9 yards per return, which ranked 58th in the nation, and he had a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown against Louisville. His 476 punt return yards from 2012-2014 ranked 16th in the nation during that span, one spot behind Odell Beckham, Jr.