Just because Bucs head coach Raheem Morris also occupies the role of defensive coordinator doesn’t mean he’s a homer. When asked on Saturday to single out the best and most competitive unit during the first week of training camp, Morris didn’t name one of the squads on defense. Instead, he named the young and inexperienced – yet talented – wide receiving corps.
“You talk about competition, you’ve got to talk about those wideouts,” Morris said. “We talk about how fast Mike Williams is able to start, and now you’re talking about how Arrelious Benn is really coming on this last week or so. We talked about it earlier. We said it – and I knew this was going to happen – Arrelious Benn’s game is in the pads. Now we have pads on and you’ve got to tackle this man, and you’ve got to be around this guy. You’ve got to get blocked by him and you’ve got to put him back there on kickoff return and watch him run through people and arm tackles. It’s a little different. It’s a big man’s game, and he’s starting to show up. So you talk about that competition with Arrelious Benn, Mike Williams, [Maurice Stovall], and you’re talking about Sammie Stroughter, you’re talking about Reggie Brown and Michael Clayton. I mean – you’ve got some guys in there that are just physical beasts.”
The Bucs receiving corps averages 6-foot-2, 208 pounds and the unit was staying after practice doing a long series of push-ups after practice in a circle with the aim of getting even bigger. Of the 11 receivers on the roster, six are 6-foot-2 or taller. The smallest receiver is Stroughter, who is still compactly built at 5-foot-11, 189 pounds.
While Williams has flashed since the rookie mini-camp and appears to have a firm grip on the starting split end (X receiver spot), the flanker position is open. Veteran Maurice Stovall is currently running with the first team, but is receiving pressure from Stroughter and Benn, who is coming off his best practice of camp on Friday.
When it’s all said and done, Benn, this year’s second-round draft pick, will likely emerge as a starter opposite Williams. But regardless of who starts, Morris likes the wide receiver position from top to bottom.
“The young guys – [Preston] Parker, [Chris] Brooks – these guys are playing fast, and I don’t think we’ve seen this dynamic of a group in Tampa in a long time,” Morris said. “Not to take any credit away from Joey Galloway or Antonio Bryant or what one in particular person was able to do in a special season, but this type of a group, I don’t know if I remember being a DB coach here, going out every day, going, ‘Man, Mike Williams, Sammie Stroughter, Arrelious Benn,’ and seeing these guys move around like they do.
"Sometimes I stand back there and I talk to Aqib Talib and let him tell me about who he thinks is the best. I tell him, ‘Pick your top six receivers.’ He changed 20 times yesterday. [He said,] ‘Oh, man, I forgot about him, dawg.’ It’s a good thing, so I’ve got to say receiver is one of those positions.”Paul Mueller contributed to this report
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