Though preseason games don’t make careers, they can be great barometers. Just ask New York Giants star receiver Victor Cruz, who was buried under the Giants depth chart despite amazing performances during preseason games two years ago. Now, Cruz is considered among the elite wide receivers in the NFL. A status which Ed Gant believes he too can achieve. “At the end of the day, I want to be a game changer. Anyone can catch a football but not everyone can execute. I want to turn a five yard pass to a thirty yard play, a thirty yard play to a sixty yard play”.
Last preseason, Gant did just that. He turned an 8 yard slant into a 96 yard touchdown, busting through three Washington Redskin defenders while showcasing his elite speed. In that game alone, he racked up 121 yards with a touchdown and two point conversion.
Gant would finish the preseason as the Bucs top receiving yardage leader, finishing with 165 total yards off just five catches. He was able to do a lot with very little, so it was a surprise to many when then coach Raheem Morris left him off the final 53 man roster. Though many analysts wondered aloud as to the rationale of such a decision, Gant saw it as an opportunity. “I don’t get caught up in the money and the numbers, if I’m on the practice squad then that’s okay, I can be patient, it’s in God’s hands”. “I want to help make those defensive backs and the defense as good as they can be and get them ready to win”. “It’s my job to prepare them for what they’re going to see and help the team in any way I can”.
Helping defensive backs is something Gant should be used to. He’s former Buccaneers and longtime NFL corner back Phillip Buchanon’s brother. In addition to having football in the family, Ed Gant has also learned from one of the elite wide receivers today in Larry Fitzgerald. “I look up to Larry Fitzgerald, he taught me some things while I was in Arizona”. That’s why Gant also sees the addition of Vincent Jackson as a blessing. “I think he’s underrated, he’s one of the best in the game, another leader, someone I can learn from. I haven’t hit my peak yet and it’s a blessing to be surrounded by one of the best receivers”.
Despite the signing of Jackson last week, coach Greg Schiano is expected to allow true competition take place in training camp. Though Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn are considered safe bets to reclaim their starter roles, nothing is guaranteed. With another solid training camp and preseason display, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Buccaneer fans hear Gant’s name on Sunday’s. He’s not a guy who’s going to get pigeonholed at a particular position, but instead is willing to do it all. “A great wide receiver like Jerry Rice, he played everything, I’m willing to do it all, whatever helps the team win”. “Honestly, I’d like to return kicks. I did it at college and it’s something I think can help the team win more. I wouldn’t mind special teams”.
Kick returner has been a position where the Buccaneers have lacked a consistent threat as of late. With a 40 time clocked as low as 4.37, Ed Gant has the speed and shown the toughness needed to be a game changer at the position. After a 4-12 season where rumors of work ethic in the clubhouse was lacking, Gant also has the right attitude to help the Bucs turn things around. “After last season man, it was just one of those seasons every team has. I’m a sore loser. I don’t give up”. “Right now I’m training in Arizona. I’m very self motivated, trying to take my game up to another level”.
The only thing Ed Gant seems to lack is social media savvy. He has no Twitter account and no Facebook page, but plans on getting one up. “I know, [Dezmon] Briscoe’s been telling me I gotta get on that. That’s something when I create a spark for myself I’m gonna get to”. “Right now it’s about keeping God first and my family. I’m blessed with a tremendous wife and son and I’m always trying to help the community and needy kids”.
Ed Gant could be the spark the Buccaneers need. The organization has made moves to significantly improve the team and a player with the combination of size, speed and hands could be the factor which pushes the team into a playoff contender. Just because the Bucs signed Vincent Jackson does not mean there isn’t room for another deep threat or kick returner. There can never be too much of a good thing. It’s something which Coach Schiano and Mike Sullivan are sure to recognize, and is why the team signed Gant to a futures contract in January.
For now, Ed Gant will be patient. “I’m blessed to be playing in the NFL. A lot of people don’t get that chance…I’m not gonna let my talent go to waste”.
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