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August 31, 2011 @ 12:29 pm
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Five Things To Look For: Buccaneers At Redskins

Written by Mark
Cook
Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

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With only one more preseason game before the regular season begins on September 11, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster is still filled with question marks. The PewterReport.com staff takes a look at five things we will be focusing on Thursday night.

With just one more chances before the real bullets fly in the regular-season opener against Detroit on September 11, many unanswered questions remain for the Buccaneers. Thursday night’s preseason game should provide some answers heading into the upcoming season. PewterReport.com presents a few things to look for as Tampa Bay plays its final preseason game against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night at FedEx Field.

Who makes this year’s safety patrol?
With the safety play this preseason, and X-factor Tanard Jackson still in the equation (he is eligible to appy for reinstatement after Week Two), the Buccaneers have seemingly developed one of the most competitive units on the team.

Last year’s top two safeties, Sean Jones and Cody Grimm, appear locked in as starters, although neither has produced many highlights thus far through three preseason games. But the comfort level defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake and head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris feel with these two will probably mean both run out of the tunnel, as Morris likes to say when describing starters, on September 11 when Detroit comes to town.

How many safeties will the Buccaneers keep on the team? That number will go a long way in determining whether former Gators rookie Ahmad Black makes the 53-man roster. Black, who was hurt three plays into the first preseason game with a high-ankle sprain, has yet to play since, and may not against Washington. Tampa Bay is clearly in a dilemma with Black. If it plays him and he does well, the odds of him clearing waivers, should the Bucs cut him, diminish. Having game tape on Black works to the Buccaneers' disadvantage.

As it stands now, without Black playing, the odds of another team making a move to claim him are slim, as the potential teams would only have film of him from his college days. On the other hand, the Buccaneers coaches and management really want to see what the fifth-rounder can do under the lights. But one preseason game against Washington’s second and third-team units may not be enough to convince management that he deserves a place on the active roster to start the season.


Corey Lynch is a safe bet to make the 53-man squad, as the Buccaneers are high on his athleticism, special teams abilities and his cerebral knowledge of Tampa Bay’s defense. Second-year player Larry Asante has also made an impression on coaches and fans this preseason with his steady, if not spectacular, play. Morris has also mentioned Dominique Harris as another player that has caught his eye so far in camp. Rookie Devin Holland survived the initial cut downs, but has been known more for two hits which drew fines from the NFL on special teams, than anything else. A hard-working, physical safety, Holland may also be an odd man out when Tampa Bay makes its final roster adjustments this weekend. However, Holland may be brought back on the practice squad because the team likes his physicality.

Can Mossis Madu or Armando Allen Jr. make the cut?
A Bucs fan posed the question on PewterReport.com's message board recently, “Are the Buccaneers hiding Madu or Allen Jr.”? In PewterReport.com’s opinion, the answer is no. The two have just been lost in the shuffle and have been given little game-time opportunities. With the Buccaneers unable to get the ground game going thus far in preseason, and the need to try and identify the third-down back position; both Allen Jr. and Madu have spent more time watching from the sidelines than getting grass stains on their uniforms.

Both of these running backs are perfect examples of how the lockout has impacted rookie free agents across the NFL. Without the luxury of OTAs (organized team activities) and mini-camps, the chance to impress coaches and the Buccaneers front office has been severely restricted, and quality talent will be cut across the league on Saturday at 4 p.m. There just hasn’t been enough time for some skill position players to make a difference.

With that said, there were 31 other NFL teams that passed on Madu and Allen Jr. in the 2011 draft, and both faced a mountain of a challenge to make the roster even had it had been a normal offseason. Clearly circumstances have hurt the two, but they need to look no further than the current top three Buccaneers running backs for motivation, as LeGarrette Blount, Earnest Graham and Kregg Lumpkin were all undrafted free agents.

Both should get extensive looks against the Redskins and while they face an uphill climb, perhaps one will stand out and at least make the Buccaneers coaching staff’s decision on finalizing the roster a little more difficult.

Who will handle kickoff and punt return duties?
Micheal Spurlock surely must be the favorite to start opening day as the Buccaneers' primary kickoff and punt returner. Returning the first kickoff for a touchdown in franchise history will forever make Spurlock a beloved fan favorite, and last season he added an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Falcons. In between the two kickoff touchdowns, Spurlock returned a punt for a touchdown in helping the Buccaneers upset the New Orleans Saints on the final Sunday of the 2009 season.

Through the preseason, Preston Parker has also lined up in those positions and was given the opportunity to push for the right to start (seven punt returns, 56 yards, 8.0 avg., and one kickoff return for 20 yards) but has been less than spectacular in his quest. Watching Parker’s Florida State games, we saw him as a shifty, quick, cutback-type player, and felt like he could transition well into the NFL as a kick returner. But for whatever reason it has never happened. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, the former Seminole has certainly put on some size since joining the NFL ranks, but the elusiveness that made him a game-changing threat while in college doesn’t seem to be there. Of course the speed of the game and the size and ability of NFL players is entirely different.

The top punt returner in the preseason was former St. Pete star Jock Sanders, who averaged 11.3 yards on seven returns with a long of 21. But Sanders was part of the first wave of roster cuts last Monday.

Look for Anthony Gaitor and Sammie Stroughter to possibly return kickoffs and punts against Washington on Thursday night. But unless someone has a monster return, expect Spurlock to be the Buccaneers' starter on opening day.

Can Zuttah push Larsen from the starting lineup at left guard?
Sources inside the Buccaneers organization recently voiced a bit of displeasure to PewterReport.com about the play of offensive guard Ted Larsen. Larsen was thrust into the lineup after injuries to Davin Joseph and Jeff Faine last season decimated the offensive line. The 2010 play of the former North Carolina State star had the Buccaneers coaching staff feeling pretty solid about the guard position after Joseph was re-signed. But through three preseason games, Larsen has struggled with penalties and missed assignments.

Former starter Jeremy Zuttah has played well when spelling Larsen, and has some fans clamoring for the former third-round pick to get back in the starting lineup. And while it may very well happen, the Buccaneers are silently hoping Larsen can get back to the level of play he showed in 2010.

Zuttah, a versatile athlete, can play both guard positions, and as proven last year when taking over for Faine, he can also be a quality NFL center. With the injury history of Faine and Joseph, Buccaneers coaches and management would prefer to have Zuttah available to fill in at one of the three positions if called upon.

However if Zuttah clearly outplays Larsen, who is struggling with an ankle injury, on Thursday night, it will be hard to keep the fourth-year player off the field come opening day.

Who will be the odd "men" out on the D-line?
After releasing Brandon Gilbeaux on Monday, the Buccaneers brought their roster of defensive tackles and ends down to 13. When coaches begin the process of deciding who stays and who goes on the plane ride home on Thursday night, it should be a hotly debated topic. Deciding on whether the Bucs should keep eight or nine linemen will also be part of the equation. Another factor will be which of the players are eligible for the practice squad.

PewterReport.com will be looking to see which of the fringe players step up on Thursday night. Will George Johnson add to his preseason-leading sack total of three? Can Kyle Moore play his way back on the roster or will the Buccaneers waive him and add him to practice squad, which he is still eligible for? Has John McCargo done enough in two weeks to stick in Tampa Bay?

PewterReport.com sees the following linemen making the team when the dust settles on Saturday afternoon: DT Gerald McCoy, DT Brian Price, DT Frank Okam, DT Roy Miller, DE Da’Quan Bowers, DE Michael Bennett, DE Tim Crowder, and DE Adrian Clayborn. If the team decides to go with nine defensive linemen, we think Johnson rounds out that group.

Last modified on Saturday, 10 September 2011 08:06
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    macabee, I didn't know those rules about he practices squad. Thanks for the insight.
  • avatar


    Keep in mind the rules for PUP and the practice squad (PS) when you are trying to hide or save players from the guillotine. If you went to camp and practiced on the active roster, you are not eligible for PUP. Brian Price has to play, go back on IR or be cut. You have 2 years eligibility for the PS. If you have been on the active roster for more than 6 games (or 9 if it's your first accrued season), you are not eligible for the PS. If you clear waivers and make it to the PS, you will be paid $5700 a week and can only practice. In other words no Crowder to the PS, he either plays or he's cut. New rule this year - they should have named it the Dominik Rule because of his infamous theft of Briscoe from the Bengals. Any player taken from another PS must count against the 53 man roster for three weeks before he can be placed on the PS. In other words, you have to cut somebody to get another teams PS member and it must be 6 days before your next game to prevent gameplanning.
  • avatar


    I am surprised no one is talking about the safety postion. This clearly is the weak link on the defense. While the line and the secondary have some potential, where is the next Lynch at the safety position. What we have seen in preseason is that if an opposing player can get pass the first level, they are gone for a touchdown. Safety needs to addressed next year in the draft.
  • avatar


    I am also curious about safety in that to me it seems like Grimm would be a more natural SS and Lynch would be good at FS. What about those two as the starters? Do you think Sean Jones could be a surprise cut?
  • avatar


    Keeping Crowder who really hasn't done anything in the league for years over the top sacking DL in the preseason is a horrible idea. Just horrible. There are 31 other teams in the NFL and the first time one of them has an injury to a starting DE they're going to backfill the position with the best player they can. Are they more likely to take Crowder from our practice squad, or take a flyer on the defensive lineman who got the most sacks in the preseason?
  • avatar


    I agree, both Crowder and Moore have had their opportunities. Could they still pan out under the new coaching....sure, but I'd lean toward seeing what the new faces can do. It is a "pig in the poke" type of season anyway, with all of us hoping that players emerge that can make "splash" plays on both offense and defense. There are no certified "game breaking" type players that other coaches have to game plan for as of yet. We will see if someone makes the leap this year.
  • avatar

    I really want to see one of these RBs do something, I am not happy at all with our stable of RBs . I really hope they run the crap out of these guys tonight (Allen Bradford, Mossis Madu and Armando Allen Jr. )because we need a sure #2 RB. I definitely see us going after a center or LG in the first round next year. I was very surprised to see them let Jock Sanders go (especially in first cuts)? As far as the D-line goes, I like your picks for the final 8 or 9 plus you have Dekota Watson filling in at right DE on certain plays. I also like K2, Stocker, and Hardey at TE with Lorig as your dual role TE/FB. Mack is a good CB but hes been around long enough to prove that he is "just" a back up and with that said I would like to see Anthony Gaitor take that spot (this kid is special). Last but not least, with JJ wanting to leave, I think we should look into trading him and keep Carpenter as our #2 (he has looked really good this preseason )because he seems to be willing to accept his role as a back up. Miami and SanFran neither have a legitimate QB.
  • avatar


    Horse: I thought you had a good sense of humor and would like the little jingle done in your honor. Sorry you were offended. Feel free to kid me any time about being a smart *censored*. You don't like being "called out" yet I'm sure you were referring to me as one of the posters who you "irritate" with your continual chastising of McCoy. No, you didn't mention Scubog. You're entitled to your opinion, but come on guy, you've seen enough over the years to know that rookies rarely do anything special regardless of their draft position. I have never said McCoy was good yet, nor have I predicted he would become a star; but for a fan to declare him a "bust" after he already is good enough to be a starter doesn't know the meaning of the term. A bust is DT John McCargo we just picked up off of the trash heap. I just think players are entitled to sufficient time to develop. Why are you so impatient with the young man to the point that every time you get a chance he is the target of your cyber venom? You say Price is "solid" yet he did little in the measly five games he played last season. You mention Bowers who has done little in two preseason games and is unlikely to start this season. Clayborn shows positive signs but hasn't yet played in a real game but you call him "awesome". How about the same learning curve for McCoy? Last year you focused on Donald Penn. Guess his trip to Hawaii silenced you for a while. "Let's get it on?". Who are you trying to emulate, Miles Lane or are you displaying a little Talib-like thugery of your own? Since we obviously have different expectations about the time it takes for a player drafted in the first round to show his worth; I will no longer comment on what I presume will be your continued degrading of our latest "bust." Step aside Booker Reece and make way for Gerald McCoy.
  • avatar


    No, what I do not care for is that you or any other "Soundoff" call out any " Name". To me that is uncalled for. I do not call out any "Soundoffs", that's why there is a "Reply" button to keep it all civil. Of course many of us disagree; we're not coaches and most of us don't know much of anything about Coaching. That was the fun of it, but to keep calling out the "Soundoffs" Names is uncalled for. There's humor and this was not humor because it was directed to one person only. Next time when we disagree, lets not use our "Soundoff" Name or I'll just change mine and keep changing it. The Bucs are not perfect. They have good players; players that are improving; players that are still a question mark. McCoy should have never been a question mark because of where he was picked. If he was selected below the 15-20th spot that would have been different. He still has an opportunity to get better, but it needs to be now and that is just my opinion. Go Bucs! Get better!
  • avatar


    I think we keep 9 DLmen and cut our 3rd QB Carpenter
  • avatar


    I agree with Buctebow. Stocker is our blocking TE and his backup is Lorig, who can block or he would not be playing FB. If K2 goes out with knee problems, the only TE with the real speed to get as deep and the hands to catch as well as K2 is only Hardy. Overbay and Purvis just don't have the speed. And age will catch up with K2 eventually and we have to have Hardy to be ready to step in then. I am happy Allen will finally be able to show his outstanding skills as a change of pace back. He has 9.31 speed and can take it to the house. We need him on our roster for fourth quarter and change of pace duty during the regular season. I agree Preston just does not have it. However Saunders does and should be on the practice squad in case we need him to return kicks. He has the quickness to do it! We definitely need to carry 9 DL and Johnson has earned that last spot. I didn't know about Larsen's bad ankle. No wonder he has been subpar. Start Zutah, but give Larsen another chance at starting when his ankle heals up. If McCargo doesn't show a lot more Thursday, he should be cut but told to stay in shape because if a DL goes down we can bring him back and he has picked up our system at least. What has happened with Woods? He has looked good too.
  • avatar


    And as usual as Mr. Ed would say, "A horse is a horse of course of course and according to a source named Horse, McCoy is getting worse and worse and never will be good! Each year there seems to be a surprise cut but this year I'm having difficulty coming up with the candidates; but T James Lee who was thought to be a potential starter, T Demar Dotson who was thought to be a promising player and LB Tyrone McKenzie who showed leadership during the off-season are on my short list of possible surprises to be visited by the Turk.
  • avatar


    You know Scubog, that was not called for. Really, did you read what i said? I am not insulting McCoy. It would be so easy to do that to you because anyone who calls out someone else has lots of problems. Look I know you have a say so like me. I don't mention your name, but if you want to start this kind of nonesense lets get it on. You may think you're smart, but you're not. I thought we had this understood that we would not call each other out? Let me try this again? There are questions on McCoy. I am not the only one. PR has questioned it too. I am trying to be neutral even though I believe he is a bust. You think it is way to soon to say that; i disagree because of where he was picked. Just like Gaine Adams at the NO. 7 spot; just like many other Buc players. But many more have not busted. Price is solid, Bowers is solid, Clayborn is awesome. Okam is a beast! Why can't you and a couple other "Soundoffs" just accept the fact that every pick is not going to be a winner? Don't shoot the messenger, but oh yeah you really don't know what that means do you? You can be cute all you want but please stop it with me because I have had enough of your attacks. PR has discussed the Center problem; PR has discussed the LG problem: PR has discussed the performance of McCoy. You just are now in the frame of I am a Bucfan47 type and you can ditch on me. Show me where McCoy has done much of anything so far. He was a No. 3 spot pick. He should be at this point very good like almost all picks at this spot.
  • avatar


    Calm down Horse. This is how he gets off. Attacking anyone who disagrees with his know all knowledge.( look at the image and figure it out) If you disagree you are NOT a FAN. I agree with you. McCoy may not bust but so far all he has done is get hurt, over run plays, miss tackles and run his mouth. I would almost bet he gets hurt again. What he does remains to be seen. But YOU ARE ENTITLED TO YOU OPINION !! JMHO!!!!
  • avatar


    I think the coaches must look at McCargo to give him a chance put the other UDRAFT FA on pracice squad,period. He was use wrongely in Buffalo. Come On Tampa Keep Him-
  • avatar


    You know, the NFL is always talking about protecting players. Wouldn't an expanded roster protect players? What would be wrong with say a 60 man roster and 50 can be active on game day?
  • avatar


    I've heard a number of times now that Zuttah should be the left guard. I can understand the concern for the play of Larsen, but wasn't it just two years ago that everyone wanted Zuttah's head as a guard giving the rationale that he was better suited for playing center? I don't get it. Why don't we just look for a better guard and let Larsen and Zuttah fight for the backup center position?
  • avatar


    All I know is that Morris keeps saying its all about #5, yet didn't upgrade the line that protects him and keeps pressure off of him through a successful run game. Although I still hope they do something to bolster the OLine this year, I would at least expect that they would draft a couple next year?
  • avatar


    I remember being disappointed in Zuttah's guard play at that time (weak run blocking). I don't really know, but it seems by the comments I've read that he may have improved to an extent since then? Is it a choice between piss and poor with these guys, or just injured ankle (Larsen) and average (Zuttah)?
  • avatar


    Johnson has proven hisi worth. By all means they should add Johnson. He might not make waivers thus not ending up on PS.
  • avatar


    My major concern in pre season has been the Center position. I just don't understand why we did not and do not go after a real back up Center with experience because Zuttah should be starting at LG. We all know that Fain is injury prone and not big enough anymore to be a starting Center in the NFL. That was one of the reasons why the Saints didn't resign him. We have to get another back up Center. My other concern which irritates a few of the "Soundoffs" is the play of McCoy. The concern I have here is that we do not kno, are hoping that he will be effective as a starter. He started to show signs of it before his injury last season, but losing weight this year I don't believe has helped him at all. Price is not quite ready yet to be in a full rotation for a couple more games and I hope that one of the DE's can fill in at times. Hey, regardless, I am excited about this team! I know we can make this happen! Go Bucs!
  • avatar


    Two other battles to watch: 1) DJ Johnson and Gaitor at CB. Can either one crack into the top 53? Who will they replace? Personally, I like Gaitor over Mack, but Mack has had a great pre-season. 2) Who will be the third TE? Here I like Hardy over Purvis and Overbay, but I hear that the team feels more comfortable with Purvis. What do you think?
  • avatar


    Maybe they keep Hardy over Purvis and Overbay, as if they need a blocking end, Lorig could fill that role if Stocker goes down? With K2's knee problems, at least Hardy would be a stronger backup for his position...
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