As PewterReport.com has reported all offseason, the Bucs will give starting guard Ali Marpet some looks at center during the offseason program and mini-camp.
On Wednesday, at the NFL owners meeting, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter confirmed to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that Marpet could take over that role in 2017. Koetter talked about the attributes that make the staff think Marpet could strengthen the offensive line with a potential move to the middle.
“Tremendous run blocker. Communicator. Good in the screen game,” Koetter said. “But again, I’m not saying he’s going to end up being our center. I’m saying, I mean, Ali played every snap at right guard last season, one of only two offensive linemen to play every snap, and Ali has had two solid, solid seasons for his first two years as a guard. But the flexibility of getting your best five out there. If our best five includes Ali at center and let’s just say “let’s get a little bit bigger with Sweezy and Pamphile at guard’…but you never know.
“If something happens, Pamphile might have to move, Sweezy might have to flip over to left guard. We feel good with either Joe or Evan playing center. We’ve won games with both those guys playing center for us. But when we were watching our cutups, we went through games last year where all of a sudden we were beat up and we had some strange combinations at guard and center.”
The Bucs will take a look at a number of combinations in order to find the best five to put on the field.
“Anything we experiment with now, through the off-season and through the preseason, that’s just that,” Koetter said. “That’s experimentation to find the best five and give guys experience at spots because in the real 16 game season, you’ve only got seven of them (active).”
Bucs G J.R. Sweezy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The “X” factor in Marpet’s possible move to center essentially hinges on a healthy J.R. Sweezy, a free agent acquisition in 2016 who missed the entire season with a back injury.
“So we have some flexibility with what we’ve done in our moves and the wildcard is J.R. Sweezy,” Koetter said. “Now, you know, we signed J.R. a year ago. It’s not his fault at all because he had no control over what happened to him. He had to have back surgery. We’re excited about him coming back. He was back a couple weeks ago. He went through a thorough physical. He looks great. But we’re going to get the best five on the field, so J.R., when he first comes back, he’s gong to work at right guard and he’ll also be playing some left guard. Right guard was his position in Seattle.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.