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October 6, 2011 @ 3:41 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs Facing the Prospect Of No Stocker Sunday

Written by Eric
Eric Horchy


Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Backup tight ends Collin Franklin and Zack Pianalto may be thrust into action Sunday afternoon in San Francisco due to starter Luke Stocker's knee injury.

With tight end Luke Stocker’s availability this Sunday at San Francisco unlikely, Tampa Bay will look to rookie backups Collin Franklin and Zack Pianalto to help fill the void.

“Like Rah says, next man up,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said during a Thursday afternoon press conference, referring to head coach Raheem Morris. “I’ve talked to [tight ends coach] Alfredo [Roberts], Rah, [general manager] Mark Dominik and everybody, and we said, well, we signed these guys so let’s see if they can play. They have an opportunity this week to show us they can play and they belong on this team. We’ll get a chance this Sunday to see.”

Morris didn’t elaborate on the severity of Stocker’s condition Thursday, but described him as “week-to-week.” Stocker has not participated in practices this week.

“I’m not sure exactly about the extent of the injury, but he got rolled up so he’ll be a week-to-week guy. We still have to practice without him, obviously, but he’s a tough kid. I’m looking forward to him getting back pretty soon.”

Stocker, the Bucs’ fourth-round draft pick out of Tennessee this year, has started all four games for Tampa Bay this season and plays primarily in two-tight sets. The 6-foot-5, 253-pounder has caught five of the eight balls thrown his way for a total of 59 yards [11.8 yards per reception] and no touchdowns.

As for Pianalto and Franklin, both undrafted this year, neither has seen many live game reps nor have they registered any statistics. Franklin the practice squad prior to the Indianapolis Colts game – saw playing time Monday night. Pianalto was inactive against Detroit and Indianapolis and did not see the field during the Minnesota and Atlanta


Both untested rookies are similar sized tight ends. Pianalto [6-foot-4, 250-pounds] played his college ball at North Carolina and set a Tar Heel record for the most career receptions [94] by a tight end in team history. Franklin [6-foot-5, 252-pounds] went to Iowa State and ranked second nationally with 4.5 receptions per game and was an All-Big 12 second team selection.

Olson said both Pianalto and Franklin have displayed the ability to receive passes during practice, but their productivity as run blockers will be put to the test in San Francisco.

“I would classify both of them as having very good hands,” Olson said. “Pianalto made some really nice catches here a couple weeks ago and Franklin made a fantastic catch in today’s practice. So they’ve both shown the ability to catch the football, but we’ll get a chance to see them in the run game this weekend.”

Morris also spoke of the effect Stocker’s absence will have on Sunday’s personnel packages and the running game.

“If Kellen’s got to take a little bit of a heavier load, he’s got to take a little bit of a heavier load,” he said of starting tight end Kellen Winslow. “We’ll just get ready to go out there and run our plays and get the ball to LeGarrette Blount. [We’ll] put a little more weight on what [fullback Erik] Lorig means to us, a little bit of Earnest Graham and lean heavier on our tackles and get those guys going heavier in their double teams.”

The Bucs have averaged 153.5 yards rushing over the past two weeks and will be going up against a 49ers defense ranked No. 4 in the league against the run this season, surrendering only 74.0 yards per game. In the past 26 games, San Francisco hasn’t allowed an opposing running back to reach the 100-yard rushing mark.

“They’re pretty good and they’ve been pretty good for a while,” Morris said when asked about the San Francisco front seven. “They’ve got [defensive end] Justin Smith up there – that’s a machine, that’s a man. This 49er defense has been playing very well. They’ve been playing well against the run, against the pass. I think they ranked pretty high if you’re talking about stats. They’re doing a nice job so we’ve got a nice challenge ahead of us.”


Last modified on Thursday, 06 October 2011 16:56

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  • avatar

    What happened to TE Daniel Hardy? (7th rd draft pk from Idaho) He can block and had best receiving skills of all TE's in camp...last i saw he was on practice squad and we need a TE! My notes from training camp: 6-4, 249, most speed and ability of all TE's. Most natural receiver. Only knock was inexperience. Where is he?? Why has NOBODY mentioned him?
  • avatar

    Horse, thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately once the season begins we are unable to view more than 30 minutes of practice. 15 minutes of warmups and then some special teams. Same thing for the TV guys, they can only tape the first few minutes of practice, depending on what the Bucs are working on. Sometimes our viewing times is even less, depending on the day and what the team is preparing. We hate it, but at the same time you know we would be reporting everything we see, and the team would prefer to keep things under wraps, especially on install package days. Coaches become very vague about who will fill in when a player is injured, even more so as game time approaches. Players are limited in what they say also. I spoke with the backups less than 20 minutes ago and still cant tell you what the plan will be. They may not even know. Coaches may still not have even made their choice yet. My GUESS is Pianalto will get first crack at it and Franklin will also see the field. Larsen could also get some time and Lorig could be a wildcard, with Graham filling the FB role. But that is all speculation. Sorry we cant get any more more specific information. Trust me we dig as much as possible. Thanks man.
  • avatar

    pewter report is going down the tubes right in front of my very eyes
  • avatar

    Iam so prud of Tampa coming thru it wasn't smooth but they finally broke thru on Monday nite and the entire Bay area was able to celebrate. I have faith in these new tight ends. Stocker may not be ready for prime time right now. I know that young players that come out of college, sometimes it takes a year or two to learn the routes, and get their bodies ready for the HFL, but the entire coaching staff from the Head Coach and General Manager down thru the Physicians and the Trainers know what it takes to survide and produce the players to perform week in and week out. I believe that the Bucs at SF will be a strong test from the west coast out at the Bay area. But I hope they prevail.GO Bucs 27 to 17 my score
  • avatar

    We shouldn't be this thin at TE. The rest of the world is utilizing two TE sets and we can't find two to play. I love this team but it's things like letting Gilmore and Purvis go that have me scratching my head. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Ted Larsen played T.E. when we were pounding the ball. Six O lineman with Lorig blocking for Blount. That's alot of big people running at you. Wouldn't be surprised to see Larsen get an easy T.D. sometime near the goal line, no one would be covering him.
  • avatar

    Well, somebody practiced at Stockers spot today so PR did you watch or talk to anyone besides listening to the video at buccaneers.com like I did?
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