The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one week through training camp practices and Rob Gronkowski is still working his way back into football shape. That's typical for a player who was out of the sport for a year, but Gronkowski also has to handle a major climate change regarding his new surroundings. Gronkowski has been adjusting to the Florida heat as the Buccaneers began padded practices this week. Head coach Bruce Arians outlined the physical challenges Gronkowski is facing over the first few weeks.
"He's probably in New England shape right now. He's not in Florida shape. The heat's kicking his ass pretty good," Arians laughed after practice Monday. "It's different, man. When you train in New England and come down here, it's different. We laughed about it out there today. I don't think he's ever sweat that much in his life.
"So it takes a little time to get into the Florida shape, but as far as playing a game he's more than ready right now."
Florida receives stronger sunlight than the rest of the country due to its proximity to the equator and the relative humidity is higher thanks to the air moving across the warm bodies of water in the state, picking up water vapor along with the heat. In layman's terms, Florida hotter than most states -- especially in the dog days of summer.
Gronkowski will eventually get used to the heat, but it's just going to take some time. The four-time First Team All-Pro is battling with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate for a starting spot at tight end, but Arians has mentioned before Tampa will use "12 personnel" as its base offense -- so two tight ends will be on the field for the majority of the snaps.
A year in Tampa's offense has benefitted Howard, making him a strong candidate for a big year -- especially with Gronkowski mentoring him. He doesn't have to battle Florida heat to teach.
"He's come in and he's got a great handle on it right now," Arians said regarding Howard. "Rob's helped him confidence wise, seeing how good he is and telling him how good he is. When you got a guy like Gronkowski and (Tom) Brady telling you you're good, you're probably pretty good. I think that's helped, but O.J. is playing really, really well right now."