TAMPA, Fla. -- One by one, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive ends took turns locking arms on the shoulders of their counterparts, trying to simulate how best to stop the run. After Noah Spence lined up against Vinny Curry, with Curry channeling an offensive tackle, the two flip-flopped, while defensive-line coach Brentson Buckner instructed and William Gholston, Will Clarke, Demone Harris and Evan Perrizo looked on.
The group was missing one, and it has been that way every day of organized team activities. The Bucs have been without Jason Pierre-Paul -- their biggest acquisition this offseason.
He's not injured, attendance for OTAs is not mandatory and he will be at mandatory minicamp, which runs Tuesday through Thursday next week. A source closely involved with Pierre-Paul's offseason training program also told ESPN that he's training four hours every day.
But the Bucs traded a third-round draft pick and swapped fourth-rounders with the New York Giants in exchange for Pierre-Paul this offseason. And they're paying him $12.5 million this season; that isn't quite a king's ransom, but it's still an awful lot. Wouldn't it have been a good idea for him to drive up north and across the state from Deerfield Beach, Florida, where he makes his home during the offseason, to practice with his new teammates and coaches?
Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter said he does not require players to give a reason why they aren't present.
"We'd love to have everybody here. That's a perfect world, and we don't live in a perfect world, unfortunately," said Koetter, who added that he has been in touch with Pierre-Paul and that Pierre-Paul has been around the building.
Though some fans on social media have expressed disappointment about Pierre-Paul's absence, Curry said he doesn't have a problem with it.
"Naw, especially a guy like him. You've gotta think about it -- respect isn't given, it's earned, and his résumé speaks for itself," said Curry, who signed as a free agent this offseason. "So you know a guy that's been in the league at the top of the mountain for 95 percent of his career -- 5 percent due to injury -- so you already know what he's bringing, how he's coming."
OTAs mostly consist of drills for defensive linemen. They do get a chance to line up against the offense, but there's no contact allowed. Still, players get their bodies and even their brains into condition, and assistant coaches can work with them on technique. Neither should be an issue for Pierre-Paul, who is entering his ninth NFL season.
There also is the camaraderie aspect of OTAs, but Curry said that relationships can still be built through text messages and phone calls, and Pierre-Paul has been filling him in on his training.
"At the end of the day, he's gonna fit right in because of the type of player he is. Just because he's not here doesn't mean we don't talk to him. It ain't like he's giving us the cold shoulder," Curry said, "but at the end of the day, he's in tune with his teammates and you know what type of player he is."
When Pierre-Paul was with the Giants, his OTA attendance was off and on, but some of that was due to him being in the hunt for a new contract and rehabilitation of injuries -- including recovery from a fireworks accident that severely mangled his right hand and nearly ended his career.
"He's been top five, top 10 at his position for a very long time, so who am I or anybody to question him?" Curry said. "You know what he's gonna bring next week."
Pierre-Paul hasn't been the only veteran absent for OTAs. Cornerback Brent Grimes has been present for some workouts but not in practices open to the media. However, Grimes is going on his ninth season playing for defensive coordinator Mike Smith; he's also the Bucs' best corner and knows the system inside and out, and his absence actually helps youngsters such as Carlton Davis, Vernon Hargreaves III and David Rivers -- a virtual unknown -- get valuable first-team reps.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson was present for the first practice, but he has not been there for any other practice open to the media. For years, his preference has been to work out in California with his speed coach, Gary Cablayan. Jackson and quarterback Jameis Winston have spent time together outside the facilities working on their chemistry, as they both admitted that at times they weren't on the same page last season. But Jackson still felt it was important to make an appearance.
"It's showing face and letting them know my plan moving forward," Jackson said. "Perception is reality, so as long as I'm able to get here and tell them what's going on and not be a 'no-show' and just call in over the phone. I wanted to be here and be face and show."