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July 16, 2011 @ 7:08 am
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Most Likely/Least Likely To Slump

Written by Charlie
Charlie Campbell


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Which Bucs players are likely to have a sophomore slump? Which players are likely to sustain the success of 2010? Find out those answers and more in this break down.
Every year in the NFL some players enjoy breakout seasons, while other players have disappointing seasons compared to the success of a previous year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have seen their fair share of that trend with the likes of former wide receiver Michael Clayton starting out on fire only to disappoint in the next season and beyond. 

The Bucs also enjoyed a breakout season from quarterback Josh Freeman after a mixed debut as a rookie. Freeman proved to be the franchise signal caller he was drafted to be as a 22-year old starting quarterback. 

In 2010, the Buccaneers had a number of other players enjoy productive seasons with Freeman. This year the Bucs are hoping to make a playoff run and in order to accomplish that they will need a lot of the breakout performers to build off those seasons and avoid a sophomore slump.

Here Pewter Report will take a look at which players most likely to suffer the dreaded sophomore slump and which players are best suited to sustain the success of 2010.

At the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine Briscoe told NFL teams that one of his negatives was that he was lazy. After falling in the draft to the sixth round, Briscoe seemed to pick up his work ethic in his brief stay with the Cincinnati Bengals. As a result, Briscoe looked better to the Bucs staff when he showed up in September after being signed to the Buccaneers practice squad. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Briscoe bided his time and impressed Tampa Bay in practice. Late in the season Briscoe was elevated to the roster and he performed well. He caught six passes for 93 yards and one touchdown in the final two games of the season. The successful end to the season left Bucs fans thinking that Briscoe was in store for big things in 2011. This offseason his work ethic has been said to be not good. Pewter Report has heard that Briscoe has not been working with Freeman and the other receivers. He also did not attend the Buccaneers player-organized mini-camp in late June. The 21-year old Briscoe could use more time with Freeman in order to develop chemistry. After not taking advantage of the offseason, Briscoe is in jeopardy of getting beaten out for the third receiver spot by Micheal Spurlock, Sammie Stroughter or Preston Parker.

Blount is another player that has not been as diligent about working out with Freeman and teammates. Tampa Bay saw Blount burst onto the NFL landscape when he averaged five yards per carry with 1,007 yards rushing and six touchdowns in only seven starts (13 games played). The 6-foot, 247-pounder bulldozed his way and leapt over many a defender to provide a new element to the Buccaneers offense. One issue that held Blount back in 2010 was his lack of knowledge of the Bucs playbook. Blount came to the team at the end of the preseason and never mastered the offense. As a result, the Bucs did not trust Blount to be on third down passing situations and serve as a blitz protector for Freeman. Blount is going to have to re-learn a lot of the Bucs offense once the lockout ends. Spending the offseason studying last season’s playbook with Freeman would have been a benefit for Blount and the Buccaneers, but that is not what happened.

While Biggers is not entering his second NFL season we include him on this list because he spent his entire rookie year on injured reserve and did not see the field at all. The 2010 season was his first action on the field and Biggers made the most of his opportunity. After winning the nickel cornerback job in training camp, Biggers went on to start five games in place of the suspended and injured Aqib Talib. Biggers recorded 53 tackles with one interception and 12 passes defensed. The 6-foot, 180-pound Biggers matched up well in some challenging circumstances. Biggers, 24, has spent this offseason working out in South Florida and looks like he is ready to build off of his strong debut. Biggers will have to beat out second-year corner Myron Lewis for the nickel corner spot, but both corners figure to get a lot of playing time in 2011.

Larsen broke into the starting lineup in Week 7 and locked down the starting left guard position for the majority of the 2010 season. In starting 11 games, Larsen showed the ability to be a strong run blocker and quality pass protector. The North Carolina State product has spent the offseason working on getting stronger. While Larsen did not have access to the Buccaneers’ strength and conditioning staff, he has attacked the weight room to add more power for the 2011 season. Many offensive and defensive linemen need to work on reforming bodies early in their NFL careers. Larsen has done that this offseason and as a result he should be in position to follow up his strong rookie year with a quality second season. Last year Larsen was listed at 6-foot-2, 305-pounds. Right now Larsen is said to be five to 10 pounds heavier. That added bulk should help Larsen to continue to improve in his second season.

The year started slowly for Benn, but Benn came on strong in the second half of the season before a torn ACL ended his season early. Benn, 22, has been rehabbing hard and is well ahead of schedule. While he is not full-go in sprinting and cutting, Benn is getting close.  After participating on a limited basis at the player-organized mini-camp, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder Benn looks like he is in phenomenal shape. When Benn is cleared to practice freely is still unknown, but it looks likely to happen early in the preseason if not at the start of training camp. Last year the issue that held Benn back was getting the offense down. He did that by the middle of the season and as a result finished the season well. This offseason Benn has been regularly working out with Freeman and the playbook hurdles that slowed Benn down early in 2010 should not be an issue this year. In nine starts Benn totaled 25 receptions for 395 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 15.8 yards per catch. It would be surprising if Benn does not improve those numbers in 2011.

At the beginning of the 2010 season the Virginia Tech product Grimm was projected to be a backup that would be a core special teams player. After replacing suspended starter Tanard Jackson, Grimm recorded 61 tackles (51 solo) with two passes broken up, two interceptions and one returned for a touchdown. Grimm (5-11, 210) started nine games before breaking his ankle and finishing the season on injured reserve. Grimm can work out without restrictions right now and is nearly 100 percent healthy. It seems unlikely that Grimm will have a sophomore slump because Grimm is a player that is successful from excellent instincts. That attribute has kept cornerback Ronde Barber productive into his 30s. Grimm is a natural football player, so a drop off in play in his second season seems very unlikely.

Williams burst onto the NFL scene when he caught 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie. He started all 16 games and was a finalist to be the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. Williams’ averaged 14.8 yards per catch and was a consistent source for big plays for the Buccaneers. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Williams learned a lot from Clayton during training camp last year, and Clayton talked to Williams about how his career fell off track and it started with the dreaded sophomore slump. The 24-year old Williams is very cognizant of avoiding a drop in play in his second season. He has been working closely with Freeman throughout the offseason and has learned to run the offense at the Z (flanker) and slot receiver positions. Last year Williams was almost exclusively the X (split end) receiver. With the work he has put in this offseason, while gaining the experience of going against NFL cornerbacks, Williams looks like the he is ready to improve upon his stellar rookie production.
Last modified on Saturday, 16 July 2011 10:20

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  • avatar

    The young players that did arise to the front line in 2010 will have to show the teams around the league that they are for real. But no matter what the schedule is I like it. Tampa witha little luck will be on the for front and be succesful in 2011.go bucs
  • avatar

    Its all very interesting, so we will see,:-)
  • avatar

    I cannot see Blount slumping. This kid is on fire. He has a chance to make a lot of money in Tampa if he can put two yrs back to back like last yr. he did that in 9 games. Imagine what he can do in 16 games. Brisco only played a very little last yr and I am not sure his contribution is really going to matter much. We are deep at that position even without him.
  • avatar

    I'll add cRuud to the most likely to slump....(away from contact) list.
  • avatar

    It's dissapointing to hear about the lack of work ethic from Briscoe. Blount should be participating more this offseason as well. The younger players need the reps, even if it's a player organized mini camp.
  • avatar

    The face looked like Mike Williams but the number looked like an 18. Now that I look closer, maybe the jersey was scrunched up. Guess I'm getting old.
  • avatar

    Bucdiezel, I'm going to let you and Scubog settle this one, but here are the results of my research - on the Bucs website/ team roster - Stroughter is 18, Williams is 19, and Spurlock is 81. I threw in Spurlock just in case the camera tranposed numbers. Have at it guys!
  • avatar

    macabee, scubog: I know it's Mike Williams. His 19 is scrunched so it looks like 18. But I know because Williams always wears a clear visor and Stroughter never has. Their facemasks are also different. And most importantly Stroughter doesn't have those moves haha trust me!
  • avatar

    scubog, that picture is definitely Mike Williams. And I feel like these type of articles put so much doubt into our fans about our players.. For all PR knows, Blount and Briscoe could be working their tails off on their own and be in the best shape of their lives. It's all speculation. Blount will easily have 1200 yds rushing this season barring injury so give me a break. And Briscoe will come along slowly but surely. We have plenty of receivers so I'm not worried and neither should the rest of you be..
  • avatar

    Briscoe worries me more than Blount. The first reason is Blount has actually been to some of the offseason practices while Briscoe hasn't been to any. Second, since Blount supposedly missed the mini-camp due to being in Cadillac's wedding I assume they communicate in the offseason. It's possible Cadillac has also been answering questions about the offense. Third, Blount doesn't have a history yet of being lazy unlike Briscoe so there's no reason not to give him the benefit of the doubt that he's not working out hard on his own.
  • avatar

    First off, the photograph is Sammy Straughter, not Mike Williams. So we're making the prediction of "Jump" or "Slump" based solely on the roll call at the new USF practice fields and the mini-camp at IMG? I agree, it would be a positive sign if all of the players participated, but I'm not going to predict doom for the no-shows just yet. To me, the benefit was more to develop team togetherness than X's and O's.
  • avatar

    That is definitely Mike Williams....
  • avatar

    pic is Mike Williams but I can see how you thought that
  • avatar

    I actually loved the way Parker seemed to come on towards the second half of the season. He seems like a legitimate 3rd or 4th option in the WR corps and I bet he's much improved this year. Briscoe will learn his lesson when he starts out 6th on the depth chart for TC and when he's handed nothing whatsoever by Raheem. He's got #1 WR physical ability but he'll either learn how to be a professional or he won't last very long. Since there won't be any more lockouts in the forseeable future my money is on him maturing rather than flaming out. As for Blount I don't see a letdown at all. He's just a natural physical freak with natural running ability and he'll get another 1000 yds this year again barring injury. Lastly I have to say Larsen is my favorite Buc on the o-line and I see him making the Pro Bowl within the next 2-3 seasons.
  • avatar

    I hope we bring in Jeff Maehl, Shaky Smithson, Dan Sanzerbacher, Kamar Aiken, and/or DeAndre Brown to compete in camp. I'm not excited about Briscoe or Parker.
  • avatar

    Doubt Blount falls off this year. Guy came in and started Week 6 we picked him up week 1. So he was kind of just guessing his block and passing assignments last year. Dude still had his playbook through the lockout so I dont see him not picking it up atleast once through this lockout. Hell be better next year, it takes backs a couple years to perfect those assignments to a key if all they did was run in college (ie Caddy). Briscoe I can see losing momentum if he doesnt start trying harder. Our receving core is deep so Briscoe could find his a** on the bench. I think sammie has that third spot on lock. He was hurt early in the season and put in the wrong spot by having to start. Dude has crazy hands tho and runs his routes crisper than anyone on the squad.
  • avatar

    Now that this asinine lockout appears to be coming to an end, I'm not at all worried about any sophmore slumps. Briscoe is a young immature kid who needs a structured evironment to tap his potential. Once they put a leash around his neck in camp and have his tongue hanging out from two-a-days, he''ll be fine. Now PR had a different opinion of Blount in their PR answers Podcast 6-12. They thought he would improve because of having a full 16 game season. Their opinion might have changed because he missed the IMG workouts. I could be mistaken, but I thought he attended the USF workouts. Regardless, I think he is motivated to suceed because of his arduous journey to the NFL. I know it's in poor taste to recommend another website, but I think PR will forgive me in this case because of their close relationship with the Bucs. The Bucs website has a 2-part video on Blount titled "Journey to the Field" that I thought was pretty good.
  • avatar

    Not only is Bricoe lazy, he must be incredibly stupid to admit it at combine interviews. Its hard to be optimistic about this kid. Blount doesnt worry me as much. He clearly isnt very smart, but I trust him to atleast be in shape. Blount is what he is....a 2 down back who struggles with short yardage. Im pumped to hear Larsen is beefing up....what a find this guy was. Id still like to see if he could take over at center. Faine needs to go. I disagree with PR about Benn. While I do think he will have a solid career, the knee will hinder him this year in my opinion. ACL surgery is hardcore stuff, and he had it very late in the season. I hope Im wrong though.It wouldnt be the first time. I thought he would be a bust when we drafted him, so Ive underestimated him before.
  • avatar

    Sad that a kid with the talent briscoe has is lazy. He is only 21 so maybe he can figure it out. I was impressed with him last year and if that's him being lazy I can't wait until he figures it out. I really like what I see with from freeman and mike will. They seem to have the desire to be the best and that's all you can ask for. I am sad to say I'm not sure if blount shares that same desire
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