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Anthony McFarland vs. Ellis Wyms
Tampa Bay’s starting defensive line from 2005 likely will remain intact when the Bucs report to training camp on July 27.
Several players will be competing for roster spots while others will be attempting to break their way into the starting lineup. The latter scenario applies to Wyms, who is entering his sixth season in the NFL.
The 6-foot-3, 292-pound Wyms, who received a significant amount of playing time and notched 17 tackles and two sacks last season. Wyms also added another in the Bucs’ Wild Card loss against Washington.
Most of Wyms’ playing time came at the three-technique position, where he substituted for starter Anthony “Booger” McFarland.
The Bucs often times substitute their defensive linemen in an effort to keep those players fresh. However, Wyms earned the playing time by getting after the quarterback on passing downs, which was something McFarland (6-0, 300) had trouble doing on a consistent basis in 2005.
McFarland recorded 41 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries in 15 regular season games last year. In fact, McFarland, a 1999 first-round draft pick, has notched just 20 sacks during his seven-year career. In comparison, Wyms, a part-time player during his five seasons in the league, has recorded 9.5 quarterback takedowns.
However, McFarland, who started his career at nose tackle before moving over to the under tackle position in 2004, proved to play an integral role in helping Tampa Bay’s defense finish the season ranked sixth against the run and No. 1 overall.
The Bucs have made getting after the quarterback on a more consistent basis a top priority this offseason. The Bucs, who were cap-strapped before free agency began, still managed to keep Wyms, who carries a $3 million base salary in 2006. That just goes to show Bucs fans how much the team values Wyms and his versatility and pass-rush abilty.
Although he might not beat out McFarland, who himself carries a $4.5 million base salary in 2006, Wyms could earn even more playing time if he proves he can pressure the quarterback and defend the run.
Advantage: Anthony McFarland
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