Cam Gill was looking forward to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers three preseason games.
While the starters for the reigning Super Bowl champs were not expected to play a lot of minutes, it was an opportunity for Gill to get some valuable experience.
And then the unthinkable happened.
During a team period in 11-on-11 competition, the second-year pro heard a pop in his leg coming out of his stance.
Gill’s worst fears came true as he sustained an injury that would sideline him the entire preseason.
The former Chapel Hill High standout admitted to being nervous about making the roster for a second straight year.
During final cuts, Gill made the Bucs 53-man roster and has been put on injured reserve.
“I was bombed at first because I was looking forward to playing in the preseason,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in what God has for me. I don’t admit that I was nervous because you usually get cut if you don’t play.”
However, the Bucs general manager told Gill that he showed enough potential last season and in offseason workouts to impress the coaching staff.
“He said that if they didn’t think I could help the team, they wouldn’t have kept me around,” Gill said. “I’m glad I made enough of an impression on the team.”
Gill was on the sidelines Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium rooting for his teammates in the Bucs season-opening win over Dallas.
“I’m there on the sidelines to help my teammates,” Gill said. “I tell them what I see from the sidelines. They have enough belief in me to listen.”
He will miss next week’s game when the Atlanta Falcons visit Tampa Bay, but expects to be ready in Week 4 of the season.
“Rehab is going fine,” he said. “I’m about 80% right now. I’m excited to get back and start playing. I want to be ready to make some plays when I get back out there.”
Because of COVID restrictions last year, teams weren’t allowed to play preseason games.
Despite no NFL game footage, Gill beat the odds as an undrafted free agent and made the Bucs 53-man roster. He was the only player from the county to open the season on an NFL active roster.
He played mostly as a reserve and starter on the special teams.
The Bucs travel to Atlanta for a Dec. 5 matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Last season in 12 games, Gill had six total tackles, including four solo.
He calls sacking Kansas City Chief MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl the highlight of his young career.
“To do it against a player of his caliber is amazing,” Gill said. “He commands so much respect.”