Former Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols was mostly a spectator during his first rookie mini-camp with the Buccaneers this weekend.
"It's hard just having to watch everybody, but at the same time I just have to trust the process and get back when I can," McNichols told Tampa media, "
In the days that following the NFL Combine, the two-time All-Mountain West Second Team running back had surgery to repair a torn labrum.
The estimated recovery time for such a procedure is usually four months, which means McNichols will likely be limited all the way up until July.
Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter suggested that may have "spooked" some teams during the NFL Draft, but Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht saw a player the organization simply could not pass on still on the board in the fifth round.
"We had him very high on our board," explained to media Licht following the NFL Draft. "He's a very well-rounded guy. He runs well. He's got three-down value. In what role [does he fit]? We'll see. But we felt like it wasn't a guy we could pass on."
Even with a torn labrum, McNichols was one of the more productive running backs in the country over the last two seasons. During that span he totaled up 3,980 yards and an NCAA-best 53 touchdowns.
Unable to participate in drills during rookie mini-camp this weekend, McNichols still attempted to use his time to advantage.
"It's all mental preparation. I'm in the playbook a lot," McNichols said, "trying to get down the plays as soon as possible and to learn everything."
"It's hard. It's like learning a new language," he continued. "Eventually I'll learn it. I'm not really worried about that."
The Buccaneers will meet for Organized Team Activities (OTA) later this month and again in early June.
They will then hold a mandatory mini-camp in June before reconvening in July for training camp.
McNichols remains optimistic that he will be ready to participate when they do, but for now, he is just trying to enjoy the experience.
"It's super exciting. It's dream come true," said McNichols about being in the NFL. "Just being able to live a dream is pretty fun."