It is Monday and that means it is time for another edition of the Bucs Monday Mailbag, answering your questions submitted via Twitter.

Question: When does the Bucs first round pick Vita Vea get back on the field?

Answer: Most likely he will miss at least another week. Expect to see him start running on his own this week, but the team isn’t going to push him back too fast and risk having him miss the season.

Few details have come out on the specifics, but I would imagine at his size, any type of lower leg injury is something you can’t rush. Those legs have to support 350 pounds in the trenches. It is really unfortunate for Vea, as he has missed hundreds of snaps and reps in practice, that he can’t get back. When he does finally get back to 100 percent, he will be way behind.

The good news is the Bucs didn’t draft him to come in and be a Day 1, three-down starter, and there are guys in the rotation there that are benefiting from the extra work. The team was hoping he would have an impact this season — he still may — but it appears it will be delayed quite a bit with the injury recovery and time missed.

Question: What are the chances of the Bucs getting a solid free agent safety such as Eric Reid or George Iloka?

Answer: I wouldn’t count on either player. Reid’s price tag has been extremely affordable for a while now without much interest although the Titans took a peak earlier this month. And Iloka’s cap hit for any team that clams him is $6.4 million. The Bucs aren’t really in a position to drop that kind of money on a player this late in the preseason when they have a roster full of veterans and young players they are excited about.

The Bucs like Justin Evans as he enters his second season and are high on rookie Jordan Whitehead, although he is banged up. Chris Conte remains at the top of the depth chart, and the reliable Keith Tandy is also there, joined by Godwin Igwebuike, Isaiah Johnson and Josh Lidell.

Question: Thoughts on Ronald Jones being the 3rd team RB right now?

Answer: It is disappointing to say the least. I think everyone in the organization had much higher hopes for the rookie from USC, but he has really struggled through the first two preseason games. However, the team isn’t giving up on him and as a second round draft pick they really couldn’t anyway, but they hoping it will click soon. At times, it appears he wants to hit a home run every time he touches the ball, instead of just taking the yards that are there. Like an old coaching friend used to say, “get two yards, don’t lose me four.” Meaning get me something. And while the blocking wasn’t great by any means, there were opportunities to gain more positive yards. Like many young college backs I believe he wants to bounce things outside on every run. He will learn at some point, the question is how long will it take?

Question: Are the Bucs going to have 5 or 6 WRs ? Names of the possible WR ?

Answers: Dirk Koetter actually talked about that yesterday at his press conference.

“There’s only 53 of them and you’ve got to have enough at every position. You can’t keep 10 receivers and six offensive linemen. It’s got to balance out and at the skill positions – your receivers, your tight ends, your running backs and then are you going to keep three quarterbacks [or] two quarterbacks? That all plays into it as we get down to the end. I know [the media] has to work at projecting who that is, but I try not to do that too much because it’s all going to change. It’s going to change based on injury, it’s going to change based on two more preseason games, it’s going to change based on practice. It could change based on a trade. You just don’t know. I’ve got a lot of other things to worry about. Of course we have a pecking order – everybody does. You have your own. We’ll just see how it works out.”

Right now it I am guessing five make the opening day roster – Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin and Justin Watson. Behind them it would be Bobo Wilson, Bernard Reedy, Sergio Bailey, Erv Phillips and Freddie Martino.

Bottom line is, a lot of talented football players will be cut.

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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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 [email protected]

11 COMMENTS

  1. Mark,
    With Jamies not counting towards the opening day roster my guess is the Bucs will have 6 WR’s on the opening day roster and still stash a receiver on the practice squad.
    If there are no injuries that knock anyone out long term before Jamies comes back I would think the 6th receiver would be the roster cut the Bucs make when Jameis must count towards the 53 man roster.

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    • Good point, and they very well could go with 6 all year.

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  2. I agree on the WRs likely to make the cut. There may be a way to hide a few players this year because of an NFL rule change. There will be only one cut down date this year – Sept 1st. The NFL will be flooded with some talented players on one day. The glut of players may allow a couple of talented WRs to get thru waivers for the PS. #fingerscrossed.

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  3. George Iloka is better than any of the safeties on the roster, especially Conte and Tandy.

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  4. With the depressed market for safeties, no on may claim Iloka at his current salary. If he clears waivers, the Bucs should make him a “creative” offer they can afford by offering a higher salary for next year with about half of it guaranteed as an under the radar signing bonus.

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  5. Id rather keep 6 WRs and 5 LBs. Cut Bond

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  6. IMO Trade Djax!

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  7. Can’t wait til Jones finally gets some room to run and we stop overreacting to <15 NFL game carries. I have faith we will find more creative ways to use him as the season progresses. Running him up the middle out of single back formations isn't his game and it never was. The stretch play he ran for 7+ yards that was called back for holding was the type of play we should use him more on. Same with the draw play out of shotgun that would have been a long TD in practice today. Stop trying to make him something he isn't and get creative. You don't see Kamara getting jammed into the center of the Saints' line constantly. Let him thrive in formations he's thrived in his entire career up until this point. It's like we find these players and try to force them to be something they're not rather than using them the way they've proven successful in the past. Hargreaves is another example of it. Get Jones in space and he's deadly. Run him into the asses of the OL and he's going to disappoint. So scheme some run plays to spread the defense out.

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    • +1 on the Jones comment. It seems like the Bucs always draft people to play a position of weakness. I.E. Hargreaves (off coverage), Ali Marpet (center) , Donovan Smith (left tackle).

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    • He can’t catch and you can’t run end arounds every time you hand him the ball. This is the NFL he’s not quick enough to reliably get to the edge or open space.

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    • DT, you know I agree with you on the general point of our misusing players based on their skillsets. And I get some of what you’re saying here. That said, I’m not onboard with all of it. Kamara WAS used in traditional running sets from under center last year. And although Jones did work out of shotgun a lot at USC, he ran plenty out of similar sets, too. I don’t think there’s reason to think that the formations out of which he runs will determine whether or not he’s successful here or anywhere else in the league.

      As for the emphasis on stretch plays, I really don’t think our line is built for that. Donovan Smith has slow and sloppy feet on the play side, and he’s a terrible cut blocker to take that role on the back side of stretch runs. I don’t think Caleb could do well in a zone scheme, either. Jensen excelled on zone runs in Baltimore, and I think Marpet could excel in any blocking scheme, just because he’s that diverse and that good. But with two obvious ZBS weak spots and Demar never really having done it much before, and not seeming like a guy that would fit well in it, I don’t see us going that way. Most of the runs from this preseason in which Jones has been destroyed in the backfield have been zone runs.

      I’m not saying don’t scheme to play to his strengths. I DO want us to run out of shotgun a lot more, and he fits that desire nicely. He can excel in zone if he has a line that excels at it themselves, but I don’t think we have that. But I also think he can be really good in man blocking schemes, which plays better to the specific talent on our particular line. What he needs to focus most on is his work in the passing game. If he can’t block and he can’t catch, then we can’t really have him on the field in those shotgun sets.

      I’m not hugely worried about him long term. But I am just a bit, especially for his prospects of contributing much this year. Those who are worrying a lot are basing it on more than just a limited number of preseason carries. It’s also about the consistent reports out of camp about his struggles with pass protection, catching the ball, ball security while carrying, and just generally mentally grasping the game.

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