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May 28, 2012 @ 10:25 pm
Current rating: 4.67 Stars/3 Votes

A More Prepared Stocker Ready To Step Up And Block

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Injuries and inconsistency derailed Luke Stocker last year as a rookie, but the second-year Buccaneers tight end is ready to step up and be the primary perimeter blocker as he develops behind veteran Dallas Clark this year.
When Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik traded away a fourth-round pick to Philadelphia in the 2012 NFL Draft to move up in the fourth round last year to select Luke Stocker, the Bucs envisioned him becoming the team’s long-term starter at the tight end position. The fact that Dominik traded away 28-year old Kellen Winslow, a three-year starter and the team’s leading receiver in 2011, only accelerated that notion.

Although 32-year old veteran Dallas Clark was signed to replace Winslow and give the team a veteran presence, the former Indianapolis Pro Bowler was only inked to a one-year deal means that 2012 is a big year for Stocker’s development.

“I understand I was drafted by this team and they want me to become the tight end of the future here,” Stocker said. “I hold myself to a high standard in that regard and I want to get to where they want me at. That’s what I’m working for every day.”

Stocker suffered a fractured hip in training camp that caused him to miss three weeks of valuable practice time and most of the preseason. In fact, he was only able to play in one preseason game, catching one pass for eight yards.

“Suffering the hip injury in camp, I missed pretty much the whole camp, and that’s a very important part of the body in football. Your hip is pretty much involved in every aspect. I never was at full strength last year. You get into the middle of the season and you can’t strength train to the level you need to get to the level you need to be. I think I’m finally getting back to that point where I’m equally strong on both sides and I'm feeling better out here on the field.”

Behind Winslow, who caught a team-high 75 passes for 763 yards (10.2 avg.) and two touchdowns, Stocker was the second-leading tight end on the roster in terms of receptions, catching 12 passes for 92 yards (7.7 avg.) with a long of 24 yards.

Although those numbers were disappointing to both Stocker and the Bucs, the team has faith that he will bounce back and become the player that Dominik envisioned he would be after investing two fourth-round picks in the Tennessee product.

Despite leading the team in catches, Winslow led the team in catches last year and was considered a primary weapon on offense, he was traded to Seattle two weeks ago as the team signed Clark, which was a signal to Stocker about how quickly opinions about players can change in the NFL.

“We understand this is part of this league. Guys move around with teams,” Stocker said. “I appreciate the time I had with Kellen and I learned everything I could from him. I wish him the best but we’ve got another veteran guy coming in with Dallas and I look forward to learning everything I can from him as well.

“I saw that I had a friend in Kellen Winslow that’s moving away. I realize it’s part of this business and I didn’t look at it as anything personal for myself. I was just seeing what was up next for the team. We’ve got another great veteran in Dallas Clark and I'm looking forward to working with him. I had a great time with Kellen.”

Stocker is aware of the public perception of Winslow’s surly attitude, but said that he was a great teammate that he was able to learn from during his rookie season.

“As a competitor, he’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around,” Stocker said. “He’s a guy who would come in every Sunday and go to work. The time that I had to be around him was a great experience for myself. He tried teaching me everything he could with what experience he’s had in the game. I had a good time with Kellen.”

Due to the NFL lockout last year, rookies like Stocker didn’t have the benefit of an offseason of OTAs and mini-camps to learn the playbook. The second-year tight end is loving the fact that he can learn Mike Sullivan’s new offense at a slower pace.

“I remember last year coming in and the hardest thing was getting in and hearing in the huddle,” Stocker said. “I could be on the board because I had all the classroom time through camp. I even had extra film time when they guys would come out and do the individual stuff in practice I would be watching film and come out for the team periods. So I had all the board work but when you get out in the huddle and live bullets are coming, it’s completely different.”

Sullivan has installed about 85 percent of the Bucs offense during the offseason, but depending on which players comprise the best 11, there is no telling if Tampa Bay will feature one tight end and three wide receivers or two tight ends and two wide receivers. How the offensive personnel fares in the preseason will likely indicate how much playing time Stocker will receiver.

“It can be anywhere from a whole, whole lot to a very little,” Stocker said. “It’s football, you know what I mean? It’s up to the players and the guys to show they’re the ones that need to be on the field and the ones that can make the plays. Those are the guys that are going to get the looks.”

As for the look the 6-foot-6, 253-pounder Stocker expects to get in 2012?

“They expect a lot from me,” Stocker said. “They want me to be the guy that comes in to be the blocker. They’re kind of on me to be that guy this year, so that’s what I'm working for right now.”

Last modified on Monday, 28 May 2012 22:33

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  • avatar

    Football is a business. We became fans of Winslow because he was a Buc. He was productive for the Bucs, but now he is gone. I'm a Buc's Fan first! I appreciate his efforts while he was a Buc. With a team in transition, I can understand new Head Coach Schiano decision to release him. He rarely practiced, you could say he was a bit of a "white tiger" or whatever Gruden called WR Galloway. This was not the philosophy that Coach wanted to portray. Old school philosophy was that," you can't make the club in the tub." No practice = no game! I agree. I, also think it's a telling sign when we hear potential comments from some teammates that he won't be missed! Personally, HE won't be missed, but his PRODUCTIVITY will. I like the signing of TE Clark as a replacement even if it is only for 2 or so years until we draft a potential replacement. Lastly, if McCoy fails to impress, and this is precisely what I expect to happen, he will be released. For McCoy, I think it's either a starter or a release. I think Price is better than McCoy and he is more physical. Like Coach said, "Everyone starts with a clean slate." I don't see Q. Black as our starter in the regular season. I believe he will be replaced at LB. I'm looking for a better offense that is faster, tougher, and one that scores more points! The defense will be challenged, but improved. Better awareness, better athletes, and more disciplined. At least, these are some of the things that I think will come to fruition in the upcoming camp and preseason. Go BUCS!!!!
  • avatar

    If the Bucs lay an egg because of losing Kellen Winslow, somebody should pay. I think it was a terrible knee jerk reaction on the part of Schiano to get rid of Winslow. How do you get rid of one of your best performers on offense? Trading Winslow was a bad way to send a message to your team.
  • avatar

    I'm sooooooo tired of everyone arguing about Kellen Winslow. He's gone. It happens in the NFL. Accept it and move on. Who REALLY cares if he had a toxic personality??? I highly doubt our season was gonna be made or broken through the efforts of our TE folks.......
  • avatar

    were about to find out if trading winslow was the last thing to do. ppl like the production he brought. others believe it can be duplicated with vincent jackson. some say who cares if he cant block. others say that he doesnt fit the scheme. im honestly ok with trading winslow. clark will be a better veteran for this team and we need that. we need someone that will be there every day and show stocker the little things. imo, clark has way more knowledge of the game than winslow. clark played with arguably the best qb to every live and i know he brought a thing or two from peyton that will help freeman grow into the qb we all know he can be. we dont need a genius like tom moore, to help freeman get back on track, we need a top tier veteran that has been their and done that and clark provides that. hell even jackson who caught all his passes from phillip rivers can even pass on some things. i like our wr/te/qb class room a ton more now that we have the presence of clark and jackson. i do like winslow and wish him the best, but winslow never did show that he could be clutch and was non existent in many games. shiano has his way of doing things and winslow doing things his way does not fit into the shiano way of doing things.
  • avatar

    Winslow was a good tight end when it came to catching the ball. Was a very poor blocker so when he was in, most teams knew we were passing the ball. With Stocker, hopefully we will be able to do both when he is in there and create a little more indecision for the defense. Plus it surely seemed as Winslow put a lot of pressure on the young Freeman to throw the ball his way even when he wasn't open or other guys were more open. If Shiano wants to run the ball as much as everyone is hearing, Stocker will provide more needed blocking to open up more holes and hopefully his catching abilities come back to what he was like in college.
  • avatar

    Who wants to bet the Bucs will spend a high draft pick on a TE in the next year or two?
  • avatar

    Meh. We'll see. Based on watching his games in college I had Stocker down as an average all around TE and so far he hasn't shown me anything that would make me change my opinion of him. I never degrade my opinion of any football player based on injuries because they're too unpredictable. However, Benn, Price, McCoy and Bowers all showed the ability to be great in college and with Stocker I never saw that. Another example is Grimm who didn't play safety in college but has played well at times in the NFL. Again, not true with Stocker. I'm not optimistic or pessamistic with Stocker...to me he's just a guy. One thing that does seem to be working in his favor is that apparently he's grown an inch since we drafted him if the numbers in this report are correct.
  • avatar

    Ran into Doug Martin today at Mickey D's, looks as advertised, small but well built. Hope Stocker can block for him to help him and Blount get a thousand yards this year.
  • avatar

    I was a k2 fan, but I also believe his production will be replaced and not missed, yes he would've been another weapon, but if Stocker can be productive, we get something from Dallas Clark, the rest will come from Blount, Martin and Smith catching balls, with a true number one in V-Jax, the other receivers will benefit as well. I hope K2 goes to Seattle and be successful, but I hope the Bucs receivers show up and show out.
  • avatar

    I will go on record to say that I was not a kellen Winslow fan. With that being said, I do beleive that too many bucs fans are qucik to jump on the media biased opinions regarding atheletes. Let's keep in mind, we don't have personal relationships or contacts with players. If two coaches, (Gruden and Morris) allowed Winslow to go through the non-practice rituals. Why are we acting as if we were unaware of these acts? Most players have stated that Kellen was a professional on the field. Last I checked, he has never shot at anyone, confronted his coach during a nationally televised game (Meshawn) or had a million false starts in one season. Which one of you guys really witnessed Coach Morris, getting drunk and partying with players after losses? Don't believe the hype!
  • avatar

    stibucsfan, I hear you and understand what you are saying. With the acquisition Vincent Jackson and the coaching change Winslow just didn't play into the new scheme. I believe the new scheme is a blocking TE that can catch 1 or 2 passes a game; big wide receivers that can catch the ball short and long; a power running game with the running back being able to become the safety net for the quarterback. Winslow's talent were more of a wide receiver role because we were short a big wide receiver and now we have him in Jackson. Jackson basically replaces Winslow and he is a better blocker, runner, and team player than Winslow. Just my opinion. I'm also think that Winslow will be lucky to make the Seahawks team. Coaches do expect their players to practice in order to get the timing down correctly between the OL,QB, WR,RB,TE; Winslow was missing in action many times. Wednesday is usually a big practice day in the NFL once the regular season is on and Winslow missed them all. Coach Schiano gets a pass this year so it's up to him to replace Winslow with the style of player that he wants. That has always been Winslow problem? He does it his way regardless and now that he's 28 and his legs are getting worse and he has lost a step and is now just a very average player that can't practice effectively will come back to haunt him. I do hope he can play another year. I am disappointed that the son of a great Hall of Famer miss behaves the way he does.
  • avatar

    Horse, I disagree with a few of your viewpoints. The Giants offense, which im sure is what our principles will be based in, used TE's extensively in most of their packages. Kellen Winslow had been paid all the guaranteed money in his contract meaning he only had incentive money left in his deal so he definitely would have performed. So financially this move makes no sense. You have a young player saying that he learned a lot from Kellen and that we was the ultimate professional and competitor on gameday which last time I checked this team severly lacked last season. You can say personally you dont like Kellen which since you've never met him would even be a strecth. But to say cutting a player who NEVER missed a game during his 2 seasons in Tampa, was the leading receiver while he was here, never threw any players or coaches under the bus during a season that a trash bag worthy, was a good decision then you're in the wrong place. In the midst of players missing seasons for drugs, arrests for gun charges, players getting in trouble before games (Mike Williams San Fran) Kellen was hardly our biggest issue. Ill leave u with this.....take personal feelings out of this and base it on purely production....who was Tampa's best/ most consistent player the past 2 seasons....anyone other than Kellen is a flatout lie! Ronde MIGHT be close but thats it.
  • avatar

    stlbucsfan, I hope he does well at Seattle. I was just giving you my opinion and now you have given me yours. In my opinion Winslow was not the type of TE that Schiano is looking for; he is a Gruden type of TE. If his legs can hold out he will do good in Seattle's style of offense; that is a big if. In my opiion I am disappointed in him as to the way he behaved in renting someone elses house. That really sucks if you are the owner of the property. I would be pissed too and i am sure the owner would have never rented to him if he knew he had that kind of a behavior problems. That once again speaks about what some of us do see as a problem; character. Yeah we all are not perfect, but most of us do try to behave. So in your book as long as a person is not packing, shooting, he is okay? You do not rent an expensive house and leave the carpets filthy with dog urine; you do not leave the furniture with cigarette and cigar putouts on the arms of the furiture. As to not paying all the rent and the utility bills, that's another issue that might be defended if he doesn't write the checks pertaining to paying bills. Oh by the way, Winslow was in Vegas as a guest DJ while the OTA's were going on. Yeah he doesn't have to be there, but he should have regardless whether it is volunteer or not.
  • avatar

    LOL you can't be serious. We are talking about whether a football player was good for a football team and your response is that he was a bad tenant. This is exactly what im talking about. I give you facts about production and you go on a rant about a rental property and the condition that he left it??????????? This has NOTHING to do with football. If Coach Schiano cut him bc he left dog urine in his house then he's dumber than this decision makes him appear. SMH
  • avatar

    So now that we know Kellen was not this "Toxic" "poisionous" "cancerous" personality that the media and some of you have made him out to be, i'd really like to know why he was cut. This article only strengthened by belief that the Bucs will regret this more than any other move this offseason. You simply dont cut Freemans most reliable and dependable receiver bc he chose to continue the offseason ritual that he has done since he became a Buc. As we all know tight ends are a quarterbacks best friend and once you get a quality one and one that works well your QB you should retain him. Not bring in a 32 yr old whom he has no chemistry with, hasnt been healthy in 2 full seasons and say "go make magic" This my friends was an awful decision!
  • avatar

    I take Stocker at his word regarding Winslow, as a matter of fact it's consistent with what many of his former teammates say about him. I don't have a problem with trading Winslow, but 75 receptions for 763yds is nothing to ashamed of either. This is a "prove it" year for lots of Buc players and If Schiano can give them a clean slate and a chance to produce, so can I. I like what I see so far and I think everyone is going to benefit from a full offseason with experienced coaching. I'm not going any further than that, I'm willing to wait and see, but sight unseen, I'm optomistic!
  • avatar

    Gee, the young man tells you he had a good experience with Winslow and you think he's lying because you know what type a teammate a person you've never met is. When Stocker was drafted I thought he had a chance to exceed expectations the way Mike Williams did the year before. Then on the first day he gets an injury that limited him the entire season. Already, some are calling him a "bust". Of course, many of us don't think a high draft choice should be limited by hip injuries, hamstring tears, bicep tears, achilles tears or ACL injuries like our recent ones have experienced. We somehow think that when a player is heading to the infirmary he might just as well keep right on going out the exit. I'm looking forward to watching Stocker and the entire group of TE's. As McKay always said, "you can't make the club in the tub."
  • avatar

    If his only NFL mentor was K2, who else would he be able to draw from to compare as a good teacher, the coaches? Hopefully Clark will be able to teach him the preparation part of the game better then his predecessors. Coming from working with Manning, Clark should have much better preparation techniques to teach then the non practicing self proclaimed "Solja" ever could.
  • avatar

    Stocker will be fine. He is what we hoped he would be.
  • avatar

    Once he that injury I can understand how that slowed his progress down. I still believe that we have a good potential TE and I believe he will do just fine for us. Too many jumped on him because of the 4th round pick that we had to give up to move up to pick him. I think some will be saying the same exact thing about Martin or David if they get an early injury and they get behind. We have had patience with Price and Bowers? Why, because we saw potential in both of them. I see the same potential in Stocker so now it's time to see if he can stay healthy and show us how good he can be. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Last year everything that could go wrong, did. Stocker will benefit from a bad experience, and from Dallas Clark. I don't buy his version of K2 as a mentor. I'm not worried about our TEs at all, and I expect Clark to be here beyond 2012. Stocker will be fine.
  • avatar

    Stocker had a lot of things working against him last year but I still expected more than what we got. As a 4th round pick, this is a make or break season for Stocker. He doesn't have the wiggle room that earlier picks get (such as McCoy, Price,Benn, etc)
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