The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag.
Question: Is linebacker Kendell Beckwith’s playing career really over?
Answer: I won’t speak in certainty, as I am not sure anyone can say definitely at this point, but it doesn’t appear good. We do know it appears as if he will miss a second straight season after the Bucs placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list this past May.
It’s really a sad situation for Kendell Beckwith who overcame a devastating ACL injury in college to only come back in eight months and be a solid contributor as a rookie for the Buccaneers. We, like most when we heard it was a broken ankle, expected him to miss some time, but that he would be back sooner rather than later. And there was a point last season when we thought he would be back on the field by mid-season. In fact, early in the year we saw him in the locker room often with his teammates and even playing ping pong at times. It appeared it was just a matter of time before he was cleared to play. But something must have happened during his rehab to set him back and force him to miss another year, and possibly more.
Unless Beckwith himself decides to divulge the full story, we may never know everything that happened as the team can’t reveal specifics of a medical injury due to HIPAA laws.
Question: If we get at least average production out of Noah Spence, Ronald Jones II, and Vernon Hargreaves III – what is the Bucs record?
Answer: It is kind of early to put me on the spot with a record prediction, but I’ll do my best to answer the question. The problem is, while all of the players you listed could have bounce back years, if Jameis Winston struggles, or Mike Evans misses part of the season with an injury, or say for instance O.J. Howard all of a sudden forgets how to catch a football, then it’s probably 5-11 – or worse.
Now, I don’t expect any of those things to happen, so I will base my prediction on the scenarios you laid out, and the issues I mentioned not taking place. If all goes as you suggested, I could see the Bucs being at least 8-8 and pushing closer to 10 wins. This football team was 5-11 with a historically bad defense last season. Just an upgrade of the coaching staff on defense would lead me to believe three more wins are possible. And if they kicking woes are corrected, Winston has a career year under Bruce Arians and this team stays relatively healthy, fighting for a wild card isn’t too far fetched in my mind.
Question: Do you see Jamel Dean challenging Vernon Hargreaves III for the outside corner spot opposite Carlton Davis by mid-season? His size and speed are ideal in this attack style defense and at playing press man.
Answer: I don’t know if it will be Jamel Dean beating out Vernon Hargreaves III or replacing an injured Hargreaves, but yes, I can see Dean getting some significant playing time this year. Unless he just melts down in training camp and the preseason, the Bucs will find a way to get him on the field. And years in the NFL means nothing to Todd Bowles and his staff. They won’t play favorites with veterans. The best players will play and Dean showed in the OTAs and mini-camp he isn’t afraid and isn’t overwhelmed by being in the NFL.
Of course we felt the same way about Davis last season when he looked like a seasoned veteran in the preseason only to get a rude awakening in New Orleans on opening day. Davis didn’t record an interception and had a good, but not great rookie season.
And no matter how well Dean, or Sean Murphy-Bunting plays in the preseason, there will be some, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming” moments once the live bullets start flying in the regular season. The major question will be how will they respond to the adversity. Talent doesn’t appear to be the issue. Instead, confidence and the ability to move on after a bad play will be the determining factor for the rookies in 2019.
Question: How many wide receivers do the Bucs keep? Who do you think ends up making the final roster?
Answer: Much will be determined by how the preseason goes, what units have the most depth and who stand out on special teams. If a receiver is deemed to be the best kick/punt returner, you could see the Bucs opt to keep six receivers. But if the return job goes to a running back like Dare Ogunbowale, maybe they keep an extra back and only go with five receivers.
And at this point even Bruce Arians can’t say how many at each position he will keep. That 53rd player might be someone the team doesn’t think it can sneak onto the practice squad, so it keeps him on the active roster and at that point someone has to go from another position.
As of now, it is clearly Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman as the top three guys at wide receiver. Those players are locks. After that, it appears Justin Watson is No. 4 and I think rookie Scotty Miller is fighting hard for the fifth spot. But don’t sleep on Bobo Wilson, who has kick return ability, and Arians and his staff have complemented undrafted rookies Anthony Johnson and DaMarkus Lodge, too. Tampa Bay has a ton of receivers in camp and that battle in training camp is one I really look forward to watching develop.