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May 10, 2011 @ 7:17 am
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Top 10 Bucs Hurt By Loss Of OTAs

Written by Charlie
Charlie Campbell


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Who are the top 10 Bucs players that are hurt by the NFL lockout? Why does QB Josh Freeman make the list? Find out right here.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the youngest team in the NFL during the 2010 season. The Bucs were starting a plethora of first and second year players by the time they secured their 10th win of the season in Week 17 at New Orleans. With the NFL in gridlock due to a lockout of the players, the Bucs will not be allowed to hold OTAs (organized team activities) this offseason unless the lockout is lifted.

Many of the Bucs young players are likely to miss out on valuable time to work with coaches and the training staff as they try to improve for the 2011 season. With that mind, Pewter Report takes a look at the top 10 Buccaneers that are hurt by losing the offseason practices.

Team staff said at the end of the season that the next step for Freeman to take as a professional was to improve on his audibles at the line of scrimmage and specifically to audibling the Buccaneers into a better running play depending on the front of the defense. A year ago Freeman had such an outstanding offseason of work at One Buc Place, he was able to make a massive improvement as a second-year player. If Freeman had OTAs and film study time with the coaching staff the Bucs passing and ground game could be primed to improve even more in 2011 due to better pre-snap management.

A player that could benefit from a lot of time with the coaching staff is Blount. The second-year running back still has a lot to learn at the NFL level. Blitz pickup and the passing game are the prime areas of emphasis that Blount needs to improve on. He also needs to work on his ball security as he had some fumbling issues as a rookie. Blount had to be integrated into the offense slowly because he came to the team just before the regular season, so an offseason of mastering the Bucs offense would have been helpful for the Oregon product.

The OTA practices are not as valuable to defensive and offensive linemen because hitting is not permitted. The players aren’t wearing pads so without the full hitting the battles at the line of scrimmage are not indicative of true line play. The Bucs and their second-round pick Bowers are still being hurt by no OTAs because Bowers is not allowed to rehab his injured knee with the Bucs training staff. The Buccaneers are familiar and have had success with helping players with shaky knee injuries, see tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Antonio Bryant. Bowers having more time in a top-notch NFL facility with a professional training staff could go a long ways towards getting him ready to compete for a starting spot in the preseason. Instead, he will have to do it with the Clemson staff.

The Bucs lost McCoy to a torn bicep in December after McCoy had put together a nice month of games including multiple sacks against the Ravens and 49ers. Not only does the loss of OTAs rob the Bucs of having McCoy rehab his injury at One Buc Place, it also denies him the ability to work with defensive line coaches Keith Millard and Grady Stretz. McCoy was expected to be ready to participate in OTAs, and this is the time of year where McCoy could have worked to improve some of his pass rushing moves. While he would be limited without hitting in pads, defensive linemen have said that the spring is a good time to add and refine pass rushing moves.

Like McCoy, Price could benefit from rehabbing his season-ending hip/hamstring injury with the Bucs staff. However, Price didn’t play very much before landing on injured reserve. He also was limited for the majority of the training camp and the preseason. Thus, Price could use all the time he could get with the Bucs coaching staff as he still is transitioning to the NFL. Price has big-time potential as a pass rusher and disruptive playmaker, so more time to work with Millard would only help him to have a breakout season. Price also is unable to challenge starter Roy Miller for playing time at nose tackle. The Buccaneers are hopeful that they can get him back to being the player he was when he was dominating practice at the beginning of training camp. Losing the OTAs hurts Price in working his way back to that level.

Grimm is another injured Buccaneer that could use the OTAs to get back into football shape. He played well in 2010 and still could use the offseason practices going against Freeman, tight end Kellen Winslow and the Bucs receivers to get better for 2011. Grimm is entering the season as the favorite for the starting free safety position, but will see competition. If Grimm started this year with a strong showing in the OTAs it could prompt the team to move on from suspended veteran Tanard Jackson. Asante came to the team during the season and he impressed the Bucs down the stretch. He is naturally a strong safety but with veteran Sean Jones established there, Asante could have used the OTAs to make an impression as a competitor for free safety. Corey Lynch and rookie Ahmad Black could figure into the competition as well.

Lorig didn’t play a full season of football as a senior at Stanford due to injuries. When he came to the Bucs he was a defensive end throughout the preseason and wasn’t moved to the tight end and then fullback position until the regular season was already under way. Lorig embraced the fullback position and showed some glimpses of being a punishing lead blocker for Blount. Lorig is very smart and was able to pick up the offense quickly, but he still needs to work on mastering the fullback position. Specifically, Lorig needs to work on snap second adjustments in his decision on which defender to block. Rather than chasing down his pre-snap assignment, Lorig needs to react to hit another defender that could be in better position to make a tackle. Having OTAs to simulate those situations would have helped Lorig entering his first training camp as a fullback.

One of McKenzie or Watson was likely to be competing for a starting spot in the offseason practices if they were going to be held. If starters Barrett Ruud and Quincy Black are not re-signed both could conceivably compete to be starters. Watson showed some power and speed when he filled in for Black after he went on injured reserve with a broken forearm. McKenzie was signed by the team during the 2010 season and impressed the team with his no nonsense work ethic and physicality. McKenzie could have been in a competition to replace Ruud, and if Ruud were to be re-signed McKenzie could have competed at Will (weakside) linebacker. It appears unlikely that both Black and Ruud would stay with Tampa Bay, so one of these young linebackers would likely to have been in a starting competition if there were OTAs.

When Pewter Report filled in for J.P. Petersen on 1010 AM the day before the draft, center Jeff Faine joined the show and said Dotson was a player that was hurt a lot by not having OTAs. Dotson was a basketball player that came to football very late. He suffered a torn ACL injury last preseason that caused him to spend the season on injured reserve. Dotson could have used the OTAs to get back into the grove of simulating pass protection and run blocking. Plus he could have started to work on showing the organization that he is a long-term option at right tackle.

With starting Z (flanker) wide receiver Arrelious Benn rehabbing an injured knee, Briscoe could have used the OTAs to thrust himself into contention to be a starter in 2011. Briscoe is the type of player that will stand out in OTAs due to his speed and athleticism. With Benn not there to work with the team, Briscoe could have showcased his skill set as a potential starter. At the very least, Briscoe and Freeman could have used the offseason to work together against defensive backs in seven-on-seven scrimmages to improve their familiarity and timing. Briscoe also came to the team late, so an offseason with the coaching staff could help him to be more comfortable in the offense.
Last modified on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 08:27

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  • avatar

    I think the greaat equalizer this season (if there is a season) will be the fact that every team is facing similiar problems. All the new draft picks are screwed and many of the IR players will fall behind ( unless the extra rest help them), all the new or first year QB's and coaches are going to be behind the curve. However the good news is after a few months and a basically throw away season these problems will be corrected. What scares me like mentioned above is the changing of the game. The new rules, an extended season, greater scrutininy favoring the offense. I say take the time and get a contract in place that will last well into the futrure, considering the 2011 season is already compromiszed. But don't screw-up the game.
  • avatar

    martini, I agree.
  • avatar

    Is it possible that extra time off will actually help Price, McCoy, Bowers, Benn and Talib?
  • avatar

    macabee - that's the smartest thing I've heard said on this topic in a while. That's a wonderfully reasonable position and, frankly, has the benefit of solving almost all of the issues on the table although not the the "extent" of each party's liking. You should be a judge. Cheers. I must say though, i think the owners are crazy to make this move with this Justice Department running the show. The entire mechanism of government is slanted pro-union at this particular moment in history. Not a great time for oligarchical grandstanding.
  • avatar

    Let's face it guys, ALL of our youngsters and their promising careers are being hurt by this stupid lockout. I get that the owners came to a conclusion that the current CBA was no longer acceptable and chose to terminate it. The NFLPA seemed to have some understanding of the owner's position and was willing to make some concessions IF they could somehow verify the owner's stated financial woes. But the owners balked at the thought of divulging information that may disprove their claim. This made the NFLPA even more dubious as to the validity of the dire straits of owners bank accounts. At that point the negotiations were pointless as each side chose to have the court system force the other side to concede. Bring in the clowns/lawyers! You want to make a bad situation worse? Call an attorney. The lawyers goal is to drag this through the court system as long as possible. Why? Because the longer it goes on the more fee they make. There's no motive for them to make a deal as long as they're being richly rewarded. The opposing sides, now led by their high-paid bully, grow even more apart and go from business adversaries to mortal enemies. But eventually the judges will tire of all of their antics and make a ruling that neither side will like. In contrast to the football field, when the battle is raged in the courtroom both teams lose. The owners and re-formed NFLPA will have to now mend their relationship. The lawyers will hold hands as they skip gleefully to the bank together. Sigh!
  • avatar

    Scubog apree.
  • avatar

    go owners bust up union
  • avatar

    bucster42, I don't think it is really about the Owners busting up the Union. I think it is about the economy. The owners are taking all the financial risk and the players risk is their health. That's the way I see it. After owning a business with huge labor costs I am understanding to what the Owners are facing. The customer mix has changed and I fully understand that keeping the labor cost down is reasonable. It's how you handle the unknows and how well you are prepared for them is what makes a business successful. Nobody is changing the game much at all. In order to keep the concussions down the kick offs are goingto be closer to midfield. Going from 4 very boring preseason games to 2 and adding two more regular season games is something I have been hoping since the Bucs were formed in 1976. I am sure that the roster will increase.
  • avatar

    I understand that QB Josh Freeman is leading a group of Bucs players someplace in Tampabay area and trying to get ready for the season, If one is for coming. I think that Tampa Bay players will prepared for unknown 2011 season. But they will be ready, when ever it comes, now some of the other teams may not be ready. But time will tell, GO BUCS A BUC FAN SINCE TAMPA CAME INTO THE LEAGUE.
  • avatar

    Horse, this is all going to be decided on or about June 3rd. I think I understand your sentiments about preserving the game, but when you move the kickoff to the 35 yd line, go to an 18 game schedule, legislate tackling to the point where only Barret Ruud-type tackles are legal, one could argue whether that is keeping the game the way it's been played for years. I hope the judge's order stands - no more lockout - they get around the table and enact a rookie wage scale, let a contract be a contract (no restricted/unrestricted), have open free agency, split the money 50/50 and let the players handle their own insurance and retirement like every other employee and for godsake leave the game alone!
  • avatar

    macabee, totally disagree with you. It's the owners who have purchased and updated the football equipment that every NFL Player wears. That's why we play more games than back in the many decades past. By having 18 games (2 less very boring pregames) the owners are also implementing better controls on such things as playing with a concussion. My goodness sake; we need to protect the players so they can still have some sort of a pain free life. Just because they play pro football for a few years doesn't mean that they can be miserable for decades past their pro days. Show some compassion here.
  • avatar

    There are some that envy the players because they make big time money. Everyone is worth what they can get, NOT JUST THE OWNERS. What we should be rooting for is a fair settlement that will keep the NFL sustainable.
  • avatar

    Horse, And I might add perennial winners and losers dependent on how wealthy they are. We don't need a NY Yankee type situation in the NFL.
  • avatar

    Uncle Stan, I agree that's why I am not in favor of the NFL becoming like the MLB and NBA.
  • avatar

    At this point I think we might have to accept the fact that the owners are going to bust up this player association and I don't believe that the players can do anything about it. It's the owners teams, not the players. None of us like what is going on, but in the long haul I am backing the owners because I believe they will keep the game pretty much the way it has been playing for years. I believe that this is what the fans want too; NFL Football. I would hate for us to become a MLB or NBA where players are way over paid.
  • avatar

    I'm a little surprised Magee and Talib aren't on this list. The counseling and positive reinforcement of the structured environment of the NFL tends to help young men make better decisions than they may otherwise make. Sports help develop strong people as well as athletes. But overall I agree with J. Gruden--it hurts everybody.
  • avatar

    The longer the lockout, the % probability of re-signing all unrestricted/tendered players goes up. That includes both Ruud and White. It gets even dicier if the tendered player refuses the tender offer and sits out the first 6 games. The lockout is shaping up to be a universal mess. I feel for teams that have both a new coach and a new QB or is switching defensive schemes. Go find those teams on the Bucs schedule and pencil in a win!
  • avatar

    I assume during that one day when the lockout was lifted Morris informed his veterans and leaders what he would like to see accomplished on their own. I hope all the signed players and especially leaders and veterans like Barber, Faine, Freeman, Penn, Joseph, Winslow, Miller, Crowder and Bennett got the 2011 play book and instructions form the coaching staff. I believe our leaders can get team together and practice with good results. This could go a lone way in the absence of an official OTA.
  • avatar

    In short the lockout has effected everyone accross the board around the NFL
  • avatar

    To summarize, all the young & injured players are missing out. No surprise there. Teams with established vets and systems in place obviously have the advantage, but at least we're not a team with a new coaching staff this offseason!
  • avatar

    I'd add Biggers, Lewis, and Gaitor to that list. With Talib being gone these three guys are going to have to step up in a big way for this year. They could definitely use the OTAs with Rah to improve their game.
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