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February 17, 2011 @ 12:09 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs May Not Need To Address Right Tackle

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Former starter Jeremy Trueblood is a free agent, but Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik has fortified the right tackle position over the last two years to the point where the Bucs don't have to re-sign Trueblood and may not have to address the position in the 2011 NFL Draft.
At first glance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ right tackle position may be an area of weakness to some NFL pundits that don’t follow the team closely. With Jeremy Trueblood, a starter for the past five years since becoming a Buccaneer as a second-round pick in 2005, slated for free agency, the right tackle position appears thin on paper.

But inside One Buccaneer Place, the team feels quite about the players it has at right tackle. James Lee, a third-year player that began his Buccaneers career on the practice squad in 2008, became the starting right tackle for nine games last year when he replaced Trueblood after he suffered a knee injury against St. Louis in October. When Trueblood returned from the injury a month later, he was able to pry it away from Lee in some spirited practices towards the end of the season.

“I feel like it’s mine now and I don’t plan on giving it up,” Lee said in December. “I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at and I feel good about the way I’ve played.”

Lee’s more than competent play surprised the team as it saw the South Carolina State product get better with each game in 2010. He is slated to be a restricted free agent in 2011, but the team plans to re-sign him. However, Lee's performance has made Trueblood expendable, but there are some within the organization that would like to see Trueblood re-signed because he has room to improve his game and has not fulfilled his true potential yet. The fact that Trueblood lost and was unable to regain his starting job will likely hurt his market value and may potentially aid Tampa Bay if it wishes to re-sign him this spring.

If Trueblood returns it will bolster the right tackle position to the point where the Buccaneers might not have to draft an offensive tackle in April. However, his departure may cause the team to add another tackle in the draft for competition.

Yet thanks to the foresight of general manager Mark Dominik this past season, the cupboard is not bare behind Lee and Trueblood at right tackle. Dominik’s draft study has shown that the majority of the league’s successful starting tackles have come from the first and second round of the draft. However, that’s not always the case, as Lee and left tackle Donald Penn both entered the league as undrafted free agents.

But to ensure that the Buccaneers wouldn’t feel compelled to spend a high draft pick on an offensive tackle, Dominik signed former Virginia standout Will Barker to the practice squad on September 6. Barker quickly picked up the system and was promoted to the active roster.

At 6-foot-7, 325 pounds, the Bucs like Barker’s size and feel that he has the potential to develop into a player that could possibly challenge for a starting role at some point down the road. Barker is not the only option the Bucs have at right tackle.

Second-year player Demar Dotson spent the 2010 season on injured reserve after tearing an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), but is highly thought of within the organization. In fact, when Penn did not report for the team’s OTAs (organized team activities) and mandatory mini-camp, it was Dotson who took the reps as the starting left tackle.

The 6-foot-9, 315-pound Dotson won the swing tackle position during the preseason and would have gotten the first shot at replacing Trueblood in the starting lineup after he went down with an injury if not for Dotson’s own injured knee in the preseason finale against Houston.

“You have to be proud of guys like James Lee, who has been in this league for 10 years,” Dotson said in December while continuing to rehab his knee injury. “I wish I could be out there. It hurts me every day that I’m not out there, but there’s nothing I can do. God has a plan for everybody’s life and I know he has a plan for my life. All I can do is pick my head up, keep my head up and go out there and work on getting better.”

Dotson, a former basketball player at Southern Miss, used the regular season to increase his strength in the weight room, and now sports more definition in his upper body as a result. Because Dotson only played one year of organized football, which was at defensive tackle during his senior season at Southern Miss, he also spent a good deal of time with former offensive line coach Pete Mangurian continuing to learn the nuances of both Greg Olson’s offense and how to play offensive tackle.

Dotson is on his way to a full recovery and was walking without the aid of crutches in November and without any limp in December, and should be cleared to return to the field for OTAs this spring if a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached to either avoid or end a potential lockout by the NFL owners. Dotson, who has the most athletic ability and potential of any current Tampa Bay lineman outside of Penn, must also be considered in the mix for the starting right tackle job in 2011 along with Lee and possibly Trueblood if the team elects to re-sign him.

With as many as three viable in-house candidates to start along with Barker for depth, Dominik has done a good job of stockpiling the right tackle position in 2011. Now the Bucs can draft a right tackle in April if they want to – rather than have to.
Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 10:02

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  • avatar

    I'm anxious to see Demar Dotson, but I wouldn't be so quick to let Trueblood go unless his salary demands are excessive. Aside from the penalties, I don't think he's a bad player and wouldn't want to let him go out of spite without having some assurance that a still-developing player can take his place. Let them compete. Faine, on the other hand, in my opinion, is the most over-rated and over-paid player on the team. He seems to get bowled over an awful lot and gets no push where you see him driving a DT back. Of course that's when he's actually in the game and not on IR. I thought the idea of Maurkice Pouncy coming out last year was to allow his brother Mike to take over the center position at UF; but I think he is projected to be a guard. He seems too tall to be a center. Maurkice was taken at the 18th spot so it's certainly possible that Mike will be there at 20 if we go in that direction. I would be surprised if Dominik drafts a OG that high but I think it would be with the idea of putting Pouncy at LG and moving Ted Larsen to center.
  • avatar

    I can't agree more that Faine has to go. He was never supposed to see these years of this contract that will be coming up. He is too injury prone and is the weak link on the line as far as his play. The reason he gets hurt is because he is getting the crap kicked out of himself while trying to hold his own against DL that outweigh him by 30-40 lbs on average. If we were smart we would find a way to get Pouncey. It woul solidify the middle of the OL and you would have a young tandem to grow together between Josh and his center. Faine is too outspoken if you ask me, and is also a holdover from the last regime that needs to be let go.
  • avatar

    And look how much they over paid his tail!!Another reason I'm glad they're gone!
  • avatar

    Well guys I like the opion besides myself that Trueblood doesnot have to be in the bucs future plans, I love the talent that Tampa has done some research and it shows with the younger linemen that has step up. I agree with a couple of the other fans that OG Pouncey would be a welcome additional even if Joseph was resign. But I see that the top Priority is some how get DE Kerrigan in to a buc uniform. So Lets see what will develops. Any good draft prospects will be a great additions to the 2011 bucs.
  • avatar

    Being both from Lakeland and a long time Gator fan, I would love to see Pouncey in a Bucs uniform, but we have to grab the best DE in the draft available in the first round and I predict by the second round when we pick, Pouncey will be gone. If nobody else gets Pouncey first, you can bet the Steelers know his value after his brother turned out to be the best center in the NFL as a rookie and made the Pro Bowl. The Steelers will grab Pouncey in the first round if he is still on the board when they pick, I predict. Scott, thanks so much for your insight on all our potential right tackles. I am tired of Truebloods underachieving and drive stalling penalties. We need to tell him BYE. Joseph holds too much but should be signed for depth at right guard, but we need to use our third pick for right guard and let him fight it out with Joseph and Hardman for right guard. If Joseph ends up third, cut him. Our second round pick needs to be another DE since that position is so deep in this draft and we need two good ones. DOM will bring us a monster draft and a few great moderate free agents and the Bucs will be terrific this year!
  • avatar

    I don't know why everyone keeps saying Lee can't run block. Most of Blounts yards came without Trueblood in the line up. The guy is a walking false start, holding, personal foul waiting to happen, not to mention his stand up size lets D ends get under, and around him to the Q.B.. The fact that Lee a practice player could unseat him is proof he wasn't worth where we drafted him. Let him go,he sucks. As for Joseph, like him if we can get him on the cheap, but considering where he was drafted, his walk on replacement seemed just as good. Both these guys have been bucs for many years, and for all this time we've had a piss poor run game, don't see where losing them will hurt us much.
  • avatar

    I didn't realize RT was that big of a need. Unlike Center. However, if the powers that be want to resign Trueblood to compete in training camp then so be it. But that takes reps away from other potential RT players. I've heard the critics, and they have a point, Lee isn't that good in run blocking. Dotson is raw and inexperienced. Trueblood however, whether getting hit with 15 for personal fouls, or just 10 for false starts, is the most flagged OL-man in the league. Penalties kill drives. He hurts the run, the pass and the team all at the same time.
  • avatar

    Although this is a great DE draft, if a future star LT falls to the draft the Bucs should definitely contemplate drafting him in the 1st round. Then easing him into the system as either starting RT or LG. I think the biggest offseason move on the O-line should be resigning Joseph, he has performed well, not quite up to expectations but still has potential. Preferentially I would also sign Trueblood, let him fight for a starter and roster spot. If the depth is as good as believed cut him but although a definite underachiever, he does have starting experience. The bucs need to nail this draft, and that does not necessarily mean adding a starting DE, but need to continue to find quality young players and plug them into playing roles.
  • avatar

    Let's not re-invent any wheels. We should re-sign Joseph and TrueBlood. My understanding is that O-line coach Pat Morris prefers road-grader types for a run-oriented offense. James Lee is a natural guard out of SC State. Larsen was drafted as C. We should trade Faine for a late round draft pick. We should move Lee to LG, Larsen to C, Hardman to RG, and Dotson to RT. Then let's have these training camp battles - best man starts - Penn vs Barker (LT), Lee vs Carter (LG), Larsen vs Zuttah (C), Joseph vs Hardman (RG), and Dotson vs Trueblood (RT). We should draft another OG somewhere in RDs 3-6, and put another OT on the PS. Then in September, let's go out and grade some road!
  • avatar

    amen, i like the cut of your jib sir...been thinking of the same scenario.
  • avatar

    Yes, I agree that we don't have to draft a RT or a LT. PR when are you going to talk about the elephant in the room? Center position is ready for some up grades here and I believe also RG. I believe we have enough depth at LG. Pouncey would resolve the Center and RG depth and he would be an up grade from both Faine and Joseph. I understand that some disagree with this thought.
  • avatar

    Probably should have caught this one too: " Barker quickly picked up the system and was promoted to the active roster on " Anyways, I'm hoping Dotson stays healthy this year and is able to show what he's got. He was/is one of the bigger/riskier projects on the team, but the payoff could be huge.
  • avatar

    Is that accurate that Dotson tore his ACL? If I remember correctly his injury was not quite that serious and reports stated that if he wasnt IR'd there would have been a chance for him to return late in the season. Can anyone confirm? Either way, the winner of the Dotson Lee competition is an improvement of Trueblood. Good riddance Jeremy.
  • avatar

    >> You have to be proud of guys like James Lee, who has been in this league for 10 years,” Dotson said in December << I thought this sounded wrong. Lee has only had 3 years in the league and is 25 years of age. Not sure what Dotson was talking about here, but Scott, you should have caught this one.
  • avatar

    They must be forgetting that Lee can't run block. Guess they will just run the ball on Penn side.
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