Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Rookie Tight End Auclair Makes Buccaneers' 53-Man Roster

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Rookie Tight End Auclair Makes Buccaneers' 53-Man Roster

Article excerpt

Canadian rookie Auclair makes Bucs' roster

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It was at the start of his second season with the Laval Rouge et Or that Antony Auclair let himself think about a possible NFL career. On Saturday, that dream became a reality.

The six-foot-five, 256-pound tight end from Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Que., cracked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' opening-day roster. Auclair becomes the first player in Laval's rich football history to make an NFL squad, doing so as an undrafted free agent.

But the 24-year-old admitted he was having a little difficulty fully realizing what he's done.

"Right now Facebook is going crazy . . . I think people are really proud," Auclair said during a conference call. "For me, it's hard to realize what's going on right now because I'm always focusing on the next game, the next day and the next practice.

"Back in my second year at Laval I was watching other tight ends from other colleges in the U.S. and I knew I had the shape, the skillset . . . but like I said I'm always focusing on the next day and never project myself in the future like that. For me, it's a day-to-day thing."

But Auclair's accomplishment is bad news for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 CFL draft.

Tampa Bay was among 17 NFL teams that attended Auclair's pro day in Quebec City in March. Auclair signed a three-year deal with the Buccaneers as a priority free agent after being bypassed in the NFL draft.

Despite that, Auclair faced an uphill battle to crack Tampa Bay's roster. Not only did he have to adjust immediately to American football but he joined a team that used its first-round draft pick on a tight end, Alabama's O.J. Howard.

So while Auclair had three catches -- one less than Howard -- for 17 yards during the exhibition season, he also showed his versatility by playing on Tampa Bay's punt, punt return and kickoff return teams.

"I never played on the punt team in college . . . so that was another thing that was different and I had to adapt to and learn," Auclair said. "For a player like me, (playing special teams) was very important and I embraced it.

"I really wanted to be good on special teams and get better every day. …

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