Cody Grimm first noticed the difference about a month ago. One day, all of a sudden, the annoying ache in his right knee was gone and so too was the swelling that was constantly building up inside it during workouts.
"It was right about then that everything started clicking for me again, and I've felt good every since,'' Grimm said. "Now I'm getting through practice without a problem. It's a good sign.''
Grimm could use a dose of good. The Buccaneers third-year safety has experienced quite enough bad it seems, what with his rookie season being derailed by a broken leg and his sophomore season cut short by a torn ACL.
Throw on top of that the fact Grimm has been working mostly with the third-team defense since training camp started and it's easy to understand why the one-time Bucs starter could use a change of fortune.
"Sometimes you're going to catch a little bit of bad luck,'' said Grimm, who rode an exceptional wave of good fortune throughout his college career and into the start of his NFL career.
He never missed a game because of injury while at Virginia Tech, and despite being drafted in the seventh round and moving from linebacker to safety, he found himself starting after just two NFL games.
Now, it was due to someone else's misfortune that Grimm became a starter. He replaced Tanard Jackson, who had been suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, but he did make good on the opportunity.
After a difficult first game in which he was beaten for a 46-yard touchdown play by Steelers receiver Mike Wallace on his seventh play from scrimmage, Grimm settled down and became a fixture in the Bucs starting lineup.
That's what he was at least until he broke his leg in a Week 12 game at Baltimore. That injury ended his rookie season and while he remained a starter through the beginning of his second season, he didn't start for long.
It was the knee injury in the third game of the year against Atlanta that knocked him out this time, and when you look at what the Bucs have done at safety since, you wonder if it might have knocked him out for good.
Since Grimm went down with that knee injury last year the Bucs have released Jackson, but they've also moved cornerback Ronde Barber to safety and drafted Mark Barron seventh overall.
Those two have been working regularly with the first team defense in camp and when Barber and Barron were both out for a couple days last week for rest and a toe injury respectively, Ahmad Black and Larry Asante were in their place.
If the relegation to the third team is bother Grimm he isn't letting it show. With a new coaching staff in place he figured he would wind up having to prove himself all over again.
"Obviously I'd like to be out there running with the 1s, but at the same time this is the NFL and every year you have to come out and compete and prove yourself,'' Grimm said.
"And believe, me, I've been in plenty of situations like this before. It was like this in college and it was like this here in my rookie year, too. This is nothing that I'm not accustomed to.''
At 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, Grimm is one of those players who does more with brains than braun, and he believes his knack for making instinctive plays is starting to show through in workouts. His coaches seem to agree.
"He is doing better,'' Bucs coach Greg Schiano said in assessing Grimm's play in camp so far. "I think when I arrived here and the staff arrived here he was still coming back from that injury, and unfortunately that's what you see.
"But he is definitely a different player right now than he was in the spring time. At the same time, I really think Cody's strength is when you get into game situations and you can go live because he will go get you. He's an intelligent football player, so I'm anxious to see him in games.''
No more anxious than Grimm. It's been almost a year since he's played in a game and he realizes that the preseason is where he's going to have to turn head if he has any hope of turning the depth chart upside down.
"I feel like I'm playing strong right now, so I'm not real concerned about (where I am on the depth chart),'' he said. "It's too early to be worrying about that kind of stuff right.
"Now, if it were preseason game three or four, then maybe, but right now I'm just trying to do the best I can every day. If do that, then everything will work out.''