The Rise Of Russell Shepard

August 14th, 2016
Having an excellent camp.

Having an excellent camp.

Not too long ago, Russell Shepard was an invisible special teams player for the Bucs.


A confession: A loyal reader constantly pestered Joe about Russell Shepard three years ago. Every week during the season! It got to the point where, during a media availability session, Joe would literally, physically, have to look in Shepard’s locker to see if it was cleaned out or not.

That’s how invisible he was. Unless a reader asked about Shepard, you never heard his name.

Now, it’s very likely Shepard would make the final 53-man roster as a receiver alone. That’s how much Shepard has blown up this summer. Joe can honestly say no player on offense has shot up the depth chart as much as Shepard playing receiver.

There are several reasons for this. One is, he’s comfortable in Dirk Koetter’s offense.

“It’s my second year in the offense, since I’ve been at LSU I’ve been through almost 10 different offenses,” Shepard told Joe yesterday after practice. “So going through an offense with [former Eagles Head Coach] Chip [Kelly] my rookie year, going through certain things with [former Buccaneers Head Coach Greg] Schiano, there’s different offenses we learn. You learn how to learn.

“The biggest thing is you just come out, you get reps. The biggest thing I will say about Dirk’s offense and his practice schedule, it gives other guys an opportunity to get reps and that’s probably been the biggest thing in my career thus far is being able to get enough reps to make up for not playing as much receiver.”

It also helps that Shepard has stayed with the Bucs as a receiver in practices. At LSU, Shepard was a jack-of-all trades. Some NFL teams even worked him out as a cornerback. Shepard noted that everywhere he has been, he has picked up something about playing receiver from his teammates.

“I didn’t go to the combine,” Shepard said. “But I played with some amazing receivers, playing alongside Vincent Jackson a lot the last four years, playing with [Giants wide receiver] Odell Beckham, playing with [Dolphins wide receiver] Jarvis Landry, playing with [Eagles wide receiver] Rueben Randle, [Bengals wide receiver] Brandon LaFell, the list goes on, the receivers that I’ve played with. I’ve got some good guys in my room. Somebody like Mike Evans, who’s younger than me but he’s a good teacher, watch his game, see how he attacks the DB vertically on the ball. That’s a good example for us day-in and day-out.”

Joe spoke with someone with the Bucs organization at practice yesterday who referred to Shepard as a “late bloomer.” It also helps that Shepard and America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston, are tight. You know, what Jameis wants, Jameis usually gets.

If Joe had to fill out the receiver depth chart now, Joe could see Shepard as the No. 4 receiver, certainly no worse than No. 5 (until Louis Murphy returns).

38 Responses to “The Rise Of Russell Shepard”

  1. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    These type of stories warm my heart. I feel a since of fulfilment seeing a another man put in the work and ultimately be rewarded for it. Good job Shep, keep snatching them thangs out the air homie.

  2. Architek Says:

    Hoping Mr Licht is on the horn right now with a trade including ASJ for a solid dependable 3rd WR.

  3. B Ryan Says:

    That’s ridiculous Arch

  4. Bird Says:

    No. They need another receiver bad. If one of top few guys hurt, they are in serious trouble. They will need to draft receiver next year with 1st or 2nd or worst 3rd.

  5. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Beyond ridiculous and Bird that could said for every team in the league. I can’t say it enough. The Hawks just won a Superbowl wit Baldwin and Kearse. Had anyone ever heard of either of those guys prior to them winning a chip??? Recievers rarely win Superbowls. Running games and a pass rush often does. That’s the Superbowl formula.

  6. McClorasMaddenDaddy210 Says:

    Yea chill out Arch
    Again i say…12-4 this year. Listen, between #3 n #91 THIS TEAM WILL STOMP OUT OUR FOES on the field of battle! No more excuses win now or walk the plank
    YO JOE!
    GO BUCS!!!

  7. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    “Draft a receiver in the first”.. I’ll bet a months salary Jason never does that. That’s a duck GM move.

  8. Kobe Faker Says:

    On the Shepard td catch, Shepard is the only received we have that have the skills to turn and explode 10 more yards to pay dirt. Shepard should be getting a lot of targets as #2 and slot received

  9. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Our WR situation was worse last season with a rookie QB and still set a franchise record for offense. I’m more concerned about the OL at LG. Jameis has weapons at WR, TE, and RB. The big question is can the OL protect him?

  10. I know why Says:

    Damn that Mark Dominik, finding guys like this…

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Kinda early to be talking about next year’s draft, since we don’t know yet who’ll rise (or fall) this year. But hey, Bucs 2017 draft is still a fun game to play. Personally agree with NoS-Bos that Jason won’t use a #1 pick on a receiver. On a DT or DE or Safety or even another OLineman? Very possibly. On the WR front, my hope is that VJax signs on for another year, that Humphries lights it up, and that Shep really has a big year. He’s my idea of the typical blue-collar worker … shows up every day, does what he has to do, learns what he has to learn, and just keeps getting better and better.

  12. JonBuc Says:

    Nice little story developing here…”Shep” certainly is an underdog to root for. A rival Buc website (don’t worry Joes’…they’ve jv to your varsity gig) had just predicted he would be cut in favor of the Stampeder and other heros in tights. Perhaps that slight has been the catalyst. 🙂

  13. BUC4EVER Says:

    Its only one preseason game but have to agree, his receiving skills look night and day from just a year ago, his stance, his explosion off the line, strong hands catching the ball…the turn and burn to the end zone…we need WR depth so bad, its very encouraging to see him progress so nicely.

    For the other young guys, Reddy and Martino looked light years ahead of Krause or Dye, although they were playing against scrubs – man Dye is fast, but he couldn’t catch a cold if you sneezed in his mouth

  14. Leighroy Says:

    Hey Nole…. Mike Evans. Pay up.

  15. The Buc Realist Says:

    Hopefully he is “rising” and “blooming” and not just a process of elimination!!!!

  16. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    It’s nice to see a guy finally develop into a decent weapon after being a practice squad/special teamer for so long. I’m Def rooting for Shep. It’s only 1 game but so far he has the lead out of that pack of young receivers we have at the bottom of the depth chart battling it out. Amd my boy Andre Davis made nice back to back 1st down catches. Certainly rooting for him as well.

  17. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    I agree Licht is not likely to toss a #1 pick at a WR….unless he truly sees a generational player…a Randy Moss or Julio Jones.

    I do not believe he’d get fleeced like Dimitroff for two #1’s and five overall draft picks to make the move.

    JJ is obviously great but at some point you have to wonder how the “team” might look if it had used the two #1’s and the other three picks on talent to spread throughout the roster.

  18. 10-6 or bust Says:

    Wow that’s really mind boggling the receiver we may have been searching for May have been here all the time. I did a little research and I had no idea how talented Shepard was. He was the number 2 dual threat qb in the nation for the class of 2009. He played quarterback and running back and was drawing comparisons to Reggie bush. He committed to LSU bc he thought it was his best opportunity to continue as a qb as most other schools wanted him to convert to wr . LSU pulled the old bait and switch once he got there they assigned him to full time WR duty, where he struggled to transition.he saw less than 30 snaps at qb and to due to injury depletion of the roster but really never got much playing time. He was used scarcely as a utility player. No wonder the kids a late bloomer he is just mastering the position. He operated the wildcat formation at LSU and his last full season at QB had 2000 years on both the ground and in the air. It definitely takes time to learn the receiver spot think Ala what Braxton Miller is doing with the Browns.shepard is still young being taken in the 2013 draft and scoped out by who I would consider a very crafty mind for gadget players. None other than our almost coach , chip kelly. Eagles released the udfa to sneak him on the practice squad and we pounced. Might have had a gem in the depths of our own roster .

  19. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Leighroy I’ma a little lost bro. Explain, if I owe you we can workout a way to get you paid..

  20. 10-6 or bust Says:

    He took mike Evans in the first you said you were willing to bet money he wouldn’t take one in the first

  21. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    I agree St.Pete.

  22. The Buc Realist Says:

    I wonder how many opinions will change when/if VJ83 retires!!! Drafting in the 1st might me the only option!!!!

  23. teacherman777 Says:

    Julian Edelman was n ex-QB also!

    I think Russel Shephard can be the next Julian Edelman!!

    Keep working Russell!!

    You are a SPECIAL SOUL!!!

    And god bless your families new trucking company!

    One Love!!

    Go Bucs!!!

  24. scott Says:

    We all know this tends to happen during preseason with Shepard. He gets very hyped up then during regular season disappears. Lets hope that has changed andhe really has blossomed.

  25. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    😀you got me then and to be honest my fingers were cross that he would be the pick. I felt the team needed some explosion at the end position. I was kinda meaning going forward but tell me what I gotta pony up bro.. And great research on Shep man,seems to be a load of potential there. Don’t pounce on me Mike Johnson I know you hate that word.

  26. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Gotta get oportunities in order to not disappear Scott. Realist!!! Like St Pete pointed out in less its a once in a generational type guy we should pass in the first round. First should be for the trenches for next few years. We can never have enough quality O and D linemen. Great QBs make WRs yo.

  27. DavidBigBucsFan Says:

    Kobe Faker what are talking about Sheppard is the only explosive receiver who can turn up field and run? Have you not seen Evans blow up DBs while blocking and receiving? oh by the way our present #2 Vincent Jackson is still better in his twilight years than Sheppard. Don’t get me wrong though I do want Shepp to blow up.

    Hey Nole Leighroy wants that one months salary you put out there when you said Licht would never draft a receiver in the 1st round. Sorry to tell you my friend but does Mike Evans ring a bell? If you don’t want to pay him the full months I’ll take 1 weeks worth to cut you some slack! Ha ha ha! GO BUCS!!!

  28. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Yea man Ima need some slack I’m saving my pennies right now. Trying to buy a 67 box chevy Nova in a year or so bro.

  29. Kobe Faker Says:

    Mollase Evans and ancient Jackson are the worst 2 receivers that run after catch yac. Worst stop and go acceleration in the nfl. We need different playmakers with rac skills like shepard a and sims on the field in space to help out jaboo. High percentage probable passing attack

  30. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Faker did you feel that about Mike after his rookie season???

  31. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    See the thing is we’ve seen bad @$$ Mike. I tend lean torwards last season being an anomaly and not the norm.

  32. iamkingsu Says:

    The number ranked athletes coming out of high school usually find there way in the NFL after not having spectacular college careers. The kid has talent just never got the shot. Really who has at receiver playing under Les Miles??

  33. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Just a reminder that Russel Sheppard was the #1 QB recruit in the nation out of high school.

  34. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Buc3 that means he was bad @$$ hell.

  35. Architek Says:

    You guys don’t remember what led to the Washington comeback and the Rams loss and Chicago debacle.

    NO WRs! And a plethora of TEs. TEs have rarely ever single handedly changed a game. If you have depth at that position and no WR depth, seems like common sense to me if ASJ doesn’t fit the long term

  36. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Could Russell Sheppard = Troy Brown 2.0??

  37. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Maybe so LUV.. This season about to be telling.

  38. LUVMYBUCS Says: