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. 10. QUARTERBACK JOSH FREEMAN
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. 9. RUNNING BACK LeGARRETTE BLOUNT
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.
8. DEFENSIVE END DA’QUAN BOWERS
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. 7. DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD McCOY
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.6. DEFENSIVE TACKLE BRIAN PRICE
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. 5. SAFETIES LARRY ASANTE/CODY GRIMM
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. 4. FULLBACK ERIK LORIG
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. 3. LINEBACKERS TYRONE McKENZIE / LINEBACKER DEKODA WATSON
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. 2. OFFENSIVE TACKLE DEMAR DOTSON
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. 1. WIDE RECEIVER DEZMON BRISCOE
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.
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