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July 6, 2011 @ 9:06 am
Current rating: 3.75 Stars/4 Votes

A More Confident Lee Ready To Retain Starting RT Job

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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A more confident James Lee is excited about the 2011 season and the chance to retain his starting job at right tackle in training camp. Find out what Lee weighs and what aspect of his game he has been working on this offseason in this article.
One of the better feel-good stories coming out of Tampa Bay’s 10-6 season in 2010 was the emergence of right tackle James Lee. With nine games under his belt as the Buccaneers starting right tackle, Lee is heading into the 2011 season knowing that he will have to battle to keep his starting job, but is bolstered by the confidence he attained from having success last year.

“Coming out here with the confidence level to play this game and play against some high-level guys, my confidence is up,” said Lee at the Bucs’ unofficial mini-camp last week at the IMG Performance Institute in Bradenton, Fla. “I’m excited about this year and I’m ready to go.”

A native of Belle Glade, Fla., Lee has had to fight and scrap for every bit of success he’s had in his three-year NFL career. As an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina State in 2008, Lee was first signed by the Cleveland Browns, and then added to Tampa Bay’s roster in September of that year.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Lee saw action in one game at Atlanta during his rookie season, but was signed to the practice squad for half of his second NFL season before being promoted to the active roster again on October 26, 2009. However, Lee didn’t see any NFL action until last year when he was inserted into the starting right tackle spot in the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams when Jeremy Trueblood suffered a knee injury.

Lee stepped in for Trueblood, who was the team's starter since 2006, and played well during the fourth quarter in the Bucs’ 17-16, come-from-behind victory over the Rams in the final seconds of the game.

“That feeling that I had … I can’t even explain it,” Lee said when remembering his first action at right tackle against the Rams. “We had only a few minutes to get that touchdown. We needed to get that winning score on that last drive to beat the Rams. I slept well that night. I really did, knowing that I was really a part of that winning drive and come back and win that game. We came back several times to win games last year in the last minute, but that was special to me because I was a part of it. That was one day I’ll never forget.”

Lee played so well that when Trueblood had recovered three weeks later he remained the starter. When asked what was more pressure, battling for an actual roster spot or fighting to keep a long sought-after starting job, Lee said there was no comparison.

“To have that pressure of somebody trying to get your job, that’s a whole different ballgame,” Lee said. “You have to be on your P’s and Q’s every day, every hour, every minute. It’s actually amazing and fun. I love competition and it was great to just come out and work every day and get better. Sunday it pays off. It’s definitely different from just trying to come out and make a team. It’s a different feeling.

“Having a guy like Trueblood, who is a great right tackle and started for years for us, behind me pushing me, it was a tough task. There was nothing easy about it. I just thank God for the ability to come out each day and perform.”

Trueblood is slated to become an unrestricted free agent once the new collective bargaining agreement is agreed upon by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and there are mixed reviews on him at One Buccaneer Place. Part of the reason why some in the Bucs’ brass feel that the team can move on from Trueblood is because Lee performed so well last year, while others at the team headquarters believe that Lee was able to flourish because of the pressure Trueblood applied once he was healthy, and that Lee could benefit from that once again if Trueblood were to be re-signed.

Also factoring into the equation is the fact that Trueblood fell out of favor with former offensive line coach Pete Mangurian, who was let go earlier this offseason by the Bucs. Pat Morris, Minnesota’s former offensive line coach, was hired to replace him and prefers bigger linemen to run a power-man scheme. At 6-foot-8, 320 pounds, Trueblood has a four-inch height advantage and weighs 15 more pounds than Lee does.

Lee has been diligently working out this offseason, but has purposefully not added any weight despite Morris’ perceived preference for bigger players.

“I play between 305-310 pounds,” Lee said. “I found out that’s a good weight for me to move around and feel comfortable with. I’m just trying to maintain my weight and eat the right things and do the conditioning I need to do to be the player I want to be.

“This offseason has been going well. It’s going very well, actually. I’m enjoying the break and working out and staying in shape.”

Whether Trueblood is re-signed or not, Lee will have to fend off Demar Dotson, who is coming off a torn ACL that landed him on injured reserve last year, and former practice squad player Will Barker to keep his starting right tackle assignment. As a former practice squad player himself, Lee knows not to underestimate either Dotson or Barker because he was once in their shoes yet was able to secure a starting job.

Due to the lockout, Lee has not been able to have any contact with his new position coach yet, but hopes to make a favorable first impression with Morris once he can.

“No, I haven’t met Coach Morris yet,” Lee said. “I’m looking forward to working with him. I’ve heard a lot of great things about him. I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to this unit and make us better and stronger.”

Without the supervision of his coaches, Lee has been doing a lot of self-evaluation based upon watching his tape from a year ago. While training on his own and during the team’s unofficial mini-camp last week, Lee has been working on improving the deficiencies in his game.

“In my run game I was a little high at times last year,” Lee said. “I’ve been working on it a lot this offseason. I’m trying to stay low coming out of my stance. I’m going to work on finishing guys off in training camp. I want to take my performance in the run game to the next level. I want to have LeGarrette and Cadillac become those dominating rushers they can be.

“After getting a taste of being a starter last year, I know I can do it. Last year really gave me the confidence that I belong in the league.”
Last modified on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 09:08
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    I like Trueblood's nastiness and his size. Also, he has yet to reach his full potential. Let the coaches decide who starts but we need the depth. If last year taught us anything its that we need live bodies, especially if they can play. Davin Joseph might not re-sign if Trueblood leaves. Finally, who's got a better name than Trueblood. I love it!
  • avatar

    Don't kid yourself, fact is Trueblood was just not that good and Lee Played as well as he did without the penalties. Having a fiesty attitude means nothing when its costing you 15 yd penalties he reminds me of Richie Incognito who is a mean sunavagun but he commits so many penalties I would not want him on this team.
  • avatar


    Who's gone now JonnyG? ..............The coach that made that decision.
  • avatar

    Don't kid yourself, fact is Trueblood was just not that good and Lee Played as well as he did without the penalties. Having a fiesty attitude means nothing when it costing you 15 yd penalties he reminds me of Richie Incognito who is a mean sunavagun but he commits so many penalties i would not want him on this team.
  • avatar


    JonnyG, if Lee was so good, why didn't he come out of training camp as the starter? Remember, it was Dotson being talked up, not James Lee. I say sign Trueblood and let them all compete. James Lee looks like a guard to me.
  • avatar

    Scubog- Ask yourself this if Trueblood was so good in the minds of the Bucs then why didn't he get his job back when he was healthy? Sometimes players don't practice well but are gamers when the lights go on.
  • avatar

    Who knows... Maybe under Pat Morris Trueblood will find a level of consistency and success that has eluded him as of late. I think the addition of Pat Morris will greatly benefit our O-line. I am also excited for the D-line potential under Millard and Stretz. I am slightly worried about dual coaching possibly confusing the line with conflicting instruction. I know Millard is more of the pass rush guru than stretz so there is real potential for that to occur. That being said, I will fall back on the trust I have in Rahminik. Yah... that just happened. Write it down.
  • avatar


    I hope new O-Line coach Pat Morris has a chance to really assess "best man for the job" and put people in the right place for the long-term. Somehow I got the feeling last year that Larsen at LG and Lee at RT were stop gaps because of injuries along the line. I know those are not their natural positions as Lee is a LG out So Carolina State and Larsen is a C out of NC State. I just hope we get it right, because Freeman did a lot of scrambling and rolling out last year just to stay upright. I think Brady and Manning would have a difficult time playing behind this line. This lockout has got me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers!
  • avatar

    Dude, I like any kind of football at this point. I find myself settling to watch the AFL, and actually ENJOYING IT. There was a time when I scoffed and changed the channel within the first 5 minutes of an Arena game. What is happening to me?!?!?
  • avatar

    i can feel your pain man, im the same way cuz of this lockout im forced to watch the afl i even watch cfl . lets blame those greedy owners who in reality its all about how much more money can they get and the players forget about the GAME
  • avatar

    I know the feeling. I'm watching NFL reply on Sundays just to have some kind of football.
  • avatar

    While I don't think Trueblood is a bad player (he has gotten better every year, and is only 28), I'm not a huge fan either (besides his nastiness, which we know can be bad at times). However, I do think re-signing him is a good idea. With the offense moving back to the power man scheme (which is his strength) I don't think we really know who the better lineman is yet. Lee played well for a few games, but as with any position, teams now have tape on him, which may hurt him a bit. I think letting those two battle it out for the starting spot would be a great idea, while providing us with great depth. As long as they can sign him to a contract that works for the team, I'd like to see Trueblood around for the next couple years.
  • avatar

    "Lee played so well that when Trueblood had recovered three weeks later he remained the starter." That statement says it all Lee played better than Trueblood that they kept him on the bench when he was healthy read between the lines fellow bloggers the Bucs don't really like Trueblood anymore than I do. He will not be resigned! Gruden has spoken-
  • avatar


    It's hard to compare Lee to Trueblood. As a fan in the stands, or on the couch, I'm watching how well the run is working right, where Free is scrambling, and how much yellow ends up on the field as an indication of how well the RT is playing. Last year Blount made his own holes,& Free scrambled left a lot by design--as it's uncommon in the NFL and he's good at it--there were significantly less 15 yard penalties w/o Trueblood; but Free spreads the defenses out more than the arthritic QB arms of the past did, reducing their pass rush. The addition of Morris & a return to the power blocking scheme makes the better man a big unknown. I sure hope there is a pre-season so the Bucs' can figure this one out. That's right, I said it. I like pre-season football.
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