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August 17, 2012 @ 11:40 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/2 Votes

Bucs Rookie Review: The Wait For Barron Was Worth It

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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In this new Pewter Report preseason feature, beat writer Dory LeBlanc closely watched the Buccaneer rookies Friday night against the Titans and gave her impression of how each one performed under the lights at Raymond James Stadium.
Mark Barron 
The seventh overall pick in April’s draft had two big plays back-to-back as the rookie out of Alabama almost intercepted Jake Locker on tipped ball, then on the following play covered tight end Jared Cook like a lockdown corner, preventing Tennessee from a first down. Barron missed Chris Johnson the following possession as the Titans feature back ran past the right pylon into the end zone to cap off a 71 yard drive by Tennessee. For the short time Barron was on the field he was all over it and looks like he has no signs of a toe injury slowing him down.

Doug Martin
The second of the Bucs first round draft picks opened the second series of the game as the starters were still on the field with a run up the middle that cut right past the line of scrimmage for a nine yard gain. Unfortunately, the Bucs couldn’t convert the last yard in two more downs and were forced to punt. Martin’s next attempt on the following drive would have netted five yards, but a holding penalty backed the Bucs up 10 yards to their own 16; had the play counted, Martin broke three tackles to get the yardage, displaying great balance and power. On the Bucs’ first possession of the second quarter, Martin moved the chains picked up the first down running seven yards, two yards, then three more all between the tackles. Martin’s night ended there, but the Boise State product continues to look like he will be a NFL starter. Martin is possibly surpassing expectations – as much as the second running back in a draft can. Martin’s speed, shiftiness, power, receiving ability, and pass protection make him that versatile all around back the Bucs haven't had since Warrick Dunn.

Lavonte David
After an amazing start to his NFL career against the Dolphins, David started the Titans game quietly but with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half, David had a tackle for a five yard loss, by first grabbing Johnson’s ankle, then quickly wrapping Johnson up as he broke free from David’s ankle grasp. David recorded two tackles officially, but shined again on special teams and also appeared to have assisted in several more. At the rate David has practiced throughout training camp and his performances in the first two preseason games, David may turn out to be one of the biggest steals of April’s draft as the 58th overall selection.

Michael Smith
Bad news: the Titans scored 30 points against the Bucs Friday night. Good news: Smith had a lot of opportunity to show Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik that they shouldn’t fret about Jeff Demps signing with New England. Smith returned all the kicks Friday night for a total of 131 yards and two touchbacks, averaging 26.2 yards per return. Smith’s first two returns were both 30 yards, followed by a 25-yarder that was stopped at the 21 yard-line by a leg tackle as Smith attempted to run over Titans wide receiver Devin Aguilar. Had Smith been able to break the tackle, he had a fair shot at taking the ball the length of the field for a touchdown as there was nothing but green ahead of him. On offense, Smith came in as the fourth running back behind Martin, LeGarrette Blount, and Mossis Madu with less than two minutes left in the third quarter and led all running backs with 31 yards on seven attempts for a 4.4 average. His longest run of the game was a result of the left side of the third team offensive line opening up a huge hole for Smith, allowing him a gain of 17 yards for the first down. Smith had a much better outing on offense against the Titans than he did the Dolphins last Friday. His biggest competition for a roster spot is Madu, who had five carries for 11 yards (longest of nine) but does handle any return duties. Smith has to be the favorite at this point, despite playing behind Madu the first two games.

Najee Goode
Goode lived up to his namesake after back-to-back assists on tackles with four minutes left in the first half. On the first, Goode was in on Daniel Te’o-Nesheim tackle for loss and the second, an assist with fellow rookie David on a Javon Ringer run. Goode continued to impress against the ground attack, assisting Dekoda Watson on a stop against Jamie Harper. He stopped Harper two plays later, wrapping up the Tennessee back before he hit the line of scrimmage.  Goode’s reputation as an outstanding run stopper has held up, but the questions of Goode in coverage remain. Goode drops into coverage smoothly, but has yet to learn the art of defending against the pass. Goode is a major contributor on special teams as his speed gets him to the play quickly and is a solid tackler.

Keith Tandy
The sixth round draft pick stopped Jared Cook after a nine yard reception over the middle, but the play was called back on an offensive holding call. With a minute and a half left in the first half, Tandy knocked Matt Hasselbeck out of bounds after the quarterback took off running. Tandy is usually in the right place at the right time, it’s what he does with hen he has the opportunity – which is very little – that is worrisome.

Drake Dunsmore
Dunsmore entered the game in the fourth quarter, with two passes thrown at him. The first the former Northwestern Wildcat caught a pass from Brett Ratliff for a seven yard gain, getting upended on the tackle and losing the ball after he was already on the ground, but quickly retrieved it. Those little details are what coaches look forward – play through until the whistle blows, but it still may not be enough to keep Dunsmore on the active roster.

Danny Noble
An undrafted rookie out of Toledo, Noble had an uneventful camp with six tight ends currently on the 90-man roster, but Friday night Noble was the Bucs’ leading receiver with two receptions for 11 yards.

Leonard Johnson
Johnson is an unpredictable rookie at best. At times he looks focused and covers well in zone, but in man-coverage loses the receiver off the line easier than he should. Johnson has a lot of traits that had many draft analysts putting him in their top ten lists before the draft; however, Johnson went undrafted, leaving one to wonder if the inconsistency what scared teams away. 

Last modified on Friday, 17 August 2012 23:54

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  • avatar

    IN Barron's defense on the C. Johnson TD run, i heard two references to Talib not containing the outside and pushing him back inside to the safety. So Barron was possibly in postion had Talib had containment but it did look as if Talib was being held by the reciever. BUt still alot of sloppy pplay and our reserves scare the heck out of me on defense.
  • avatar

    I listened to the game and then watched it on TV, but still did not catch all the things you picked up on. i find your article very helpful, Dory. Thanks. I think Goode is very coachable and I really like his toughness and speed. We need more run stoppers just like him because the Titans ran us to death. He will be a good backup for us. I was really surprised how well Noble played at TE. I would like to know more about his background and his speed. He has really good size and height and nice hands. He just may have a chance to be the 3rd TE on the roster. I think it should be between him and Drake Dunsmore (who could also play FB in a pinch), who I also like. To my mind our top three draft picks played very well and will all definitely make this Bucs Team.
  • avatar

    Doug Martin looks to have the makings of a great nfl running back. Very impressive balance, change of direction, acceleration. I thought he made Blount look like he plays with blinders on just running up into the line and hoping. Together, the rb position may be one of the team's only strengths.
  • avatar

    DL, I'm glad your writing articles like this because I totally missed the first two positive plays you mentioned. All I saw was Barron taking a bad angle on C. Johnson on that first TD run. It shifts my feeling coming away from that game from negative to positive about Barron. He's a rookie, but at least it seems so far so good.
  • avatar

    I think your analysis is right on Dory - it seems that this year the top of our draft looks very promising while the middle and bottom, where we have historically picked up some bright spots (e.g. Mike Williams, Sammy Stroughter, Ahmad Black, Cody Grimm, etc), may not be so bright this time. Let's see if someone can step-up a bit more through the final 2 games.
  • avatar

    It's hard to make a true assessment but no one really stood out to me.
  • avatar

    yeah just about what you called it tonigiht was right on..
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