The Buccaneers weren't as active in free agency as some might have hoped, but did sign a handful of players who they feel can contribute. One of those under-the-radar players was Packers' TE Tom Crabtree who said on Monday he thinks the Bucs have as much talent as the Packers.
The Buccaneers made a big splash early in free agency, signing former 49ers Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson within the first week of the annual “Christmas in March” part of the offseason. Many fans waited for the next big signing – similar to the free agency period of 2013 – where Tampa Bay signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright.
Another huge name addition never happened – other than the trade for Darrelle Revis – and the handful of players the Bucs did add weren’t splashes in most fans eyes, more like tiny ripples. But one of those ripples could at the very least develop into a decent wave.
The potential rideable wave, seldom used but Green Bay fan-favorite tight end Tom Crabtree, could potentially push incumbent tight end Luke Stocker for the starting role.
One Monday, following the Buccaneers first set of OTA practices, head coach Greg Schiano spoke about the former Packer and what Tampa Bay saw in Crabtree.
“Well they just had so many tight ends there,” Schiano said. “He just didn’t get the opportunity. But you saw when you studied him on tape – you had to dig a little bit – but when he got the opportunity he made plays. There are physical traits and then there is production. Sometimes you don’t get a full page of production because there are other people there. But the physical traits lends you to believe that production could be consistent it given the opportunity. We feel that way. I like that we are building quality depth at that position.”
Crabtree spoke to the media on Monday following practice and said he thinks the perception of him being strictly a blocking tight end isn’t accurate.
I look at myself as a pretty balanced guy,” Crabtree. “If people want to label me, that’s fine – as a blocking tight end. But I think more of that is just lack of opportunities in the pass game more than anything. I have all the confidence in myself as a receiver, as a receiving tight end. That just takes opportunities. Like I said, I feel like I’m a pretty balanced guy whether it’s in the run game or going out catching balls. I think I can do both.”
The Miami of Ohio product doesn’t have a lot to stand on stat wise, putting up average at best numbers with just 18 receptions for 302 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons in Green Bay. But, like Schiano, Crabtree explained it was more of a lack of opportunities.
"You know, the way I kind of look it is maybe you do get stuck in a role a little bit,” Crabtree said. “And as a competitor you want to kind of try and challenge yourself and see what you’re made of. Being here, like I said, being a part of this, it’s a new opportunity for me and as well for the team. There are a lot of new faces here on this team. We all kind of all have the same goal in mind. So if we can all put it together it will be that much more special.”
So far Crabtree likes what he sees in Tampa Bay as far as in terms of talent.
"Man, I’ll tell you what – being here for a month, some of the best, just gifted athletes I’ve been around,” Crabtree said. “Some really talented guys. That’s not taking anything away from Green Bay. They’ve obviously had talented guys, as well. But coming here there’s been no dropoff as far as the athleticism and the talent of guys.”
While Crabtree is confident in his ability to contribute, the Ohio native has just one goal in mind right now.
"(To) make the team,” Crabtree said. “That’s my goal. I’m not one to sit here and say, ‘Oh, I’m coming in, I want to be the starter’, or ‘I want to come in and be the No. 2.’ Nothing like that. You know, if my role on this team is being on kick return, if my role on the team is catching a bunch of balls, whatever it is I just want to do that and find a way to help the team win. Make the roster.”
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