Which players are going to be in a tough fight to make the team in 2011? Which recent Tampa Bay draft pick makes the list? Find out right here.
Every year in training camp and the preseason some vicious roster fights take place. This year will be no different and the training camp battles will be even more important as the coaching staff has not had the benefit of OTAs (organized team activities) to help evaluate the roster. With that in mind, Pewter Report takes a look at the top five players on the Bucs roster that are on the bubble heading into training camp. 5. TACKLE DEMAR DOTSON
Dotson’s standing entering training camp is largely dependent on if the team re-signs veteran right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. If the veteran Trueblood is coming back Dotson is going to have to battle backup Will Barker for a roster spot. The Bucs have been high on Dotson’s long-term potential, but the inexperienced Dotson is a player that really suffered from the lockout and not being able to work with the coaching staff. Dotson has only played football for a few years and was new to offensive tackle when he came to Tampa Bay. To make matters worse, he lost the 2010 season to a torn ACL. To his credit, Dotson took advantage of the rehab time to hit the weight room hard, and over the 2010 season he added more muscle to his upper body. Barker has a lot more experience and was solid in practice throughout the 2010 season. If Trueblood is not re-signed then Dotson and Barker figure to be in good shape to be the backups to starting left tackle Donald Penn and the favorite to start at right tackle, James Lee. If Trueblood is re-signed, Barker and Dotson will fight for one roster spot.4. SAFETY COREY LYNCH
Entering training camp the Bucs appear to have three safeties in strong positions to make the team. They are Sean Jones, Cody Grimm and Ahmad Black. Fighting for the fourth and likely final roster spot at safety will be Lynch and Larry Asante. Last year Lynch recorded 24 tackles and one interception on defense. Judging by the team’s excitement around Asante this offseason, he probably would be the favorite entering training camp. The 6-foot, 210-pound Asante brings more run defense and hitting ability over Lynch. The third-year pro Lynch (6-foot, 206) has better ball skills. The outside competitor is Vince Anderson, who would most likely have to beat out Lynch and Asante to make the team. Anderson projects more to the practice squad. Veteran Tanard Jackson will be suspended for all of training camp, the preseason and the first two games of the regular season so he doesn’t figure into the competition. Lynch forced his way onto the roster with a dynamic preseason in 2010, and likely will have to do so again. Lynch is aided by his special teams prowess, he had 18 special teams tackles in 2010, which was third on the team behind Dekoda Watson (19) and Adam Hayward (20).
3. RUNNING BACK KREGG LUMPKIN
Lumpkin found his way onto the Bucs roster after impressing Tampa Bay with his preseason performance with the Green Bay Packers. The 5-foot-11, 228-pound Lumpkin was being trained to be an Earnest Graham type hybrid running back and fullback. He was active for 11 games in 2010 and was used almost exclusively on special teams. On offense he had one carry for zero yards. The 27-year old Lumpkin will have his chances at a roster spot greatly affected by the team’s decision on whether to re-sign veteran running back Cadillac Williams. If Williams comes back Lumpkin will have to beat out draft pick Allen Bradford. That could be a tough proposition for Lumpkin when comparing the skill sets for wach player, but Lumpkin has a huge leg up on Bradford in terms of knowing the offensive and special teams playbook. If Williams is not re-signed then Lumpkin has a much better shot at being on the Buccaneers roster, and may even be the backup running back. 2. CORNERBACK ELBERT MACK
The drafting of Florida Atlantic cornerback Antony Gaitor puts Mack’s roster spot on precarious ground. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Mack struggled as the nickel corner in 2009, and since then he has been on the roster bubble. Mack recorded 11 tackles last season as the dime cornerback. A suspension or release of cornerback Aqib Talib would aide Mack greatly in being on the roster, but that could be a temporary band-aid. Including Talib, the Bucs have their top four cornerbacks set with Ronde Barber, E.J. Biggers, and Myron Lewis. That would leave Mack to battle to make the team with Gaitor and D.J. Johnson. Given the team’s excitement and the draft pick investment status, Gaitor would probably enter the competition as a favorite. Helping Mack’s cause is his special teams experience. 1. DEFENSIVE END KYLE MOORE
Moore is going to have to fight his butt off to make the team. The 2009 fourth-rounder Moore was given the starting left defensive end spot prior to the 2010 season but didn’t produce and was held to zero sacks with 29 tackles and two fumble recoveries. After starting seven games Moore was placed on injured reserve. Tampa Bay plans on rookies Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers being their long-term starters. The Bucs like Michael Bennett as their third end. That leaves Moore (6-5, 272) having to beat out Alex Magee, George Johnson, Brandon Gilbeaux, Doug Worthington and E.J. Wilson for the final roster spot. The group could also include veteran end Tim Crowder if he is re-signed. Right now Magee and Crowder are the favorites to be the fourth end. Magee (6-3, 298) was acquired in a trade last year and the Bucs like his size, skill set and run defense. Moore is going to have to have a dominant training camp in order to make the team.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.