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Although punter Josh Bidwell and kicker Matt Bryant have solidified their respective positions and are under contract for the 2007 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have some question marks in regards to special teams.
For starters, tight end/long snapper Dave Moore is an unrestricted free agent, and at 37, there’s a good chance he could retire this offseason. There’s also no guarantee the Bucs will bring him back due to his age and declining skills.
The Bucs have two long snappers – Andrew Economos and Adam Johnson – on their roster, but the team would prefer to have another player handle those duties in an effort to save a 53-man roster spot.
Tampa Bay likely will attempt to address its need for a return specialist in this weekend’s draft.
The Bucs currently have several players that are qualified to return punts and kickoffs.
Wide receivers Mark Jones and Chad Owens, and cornerback Phillip Buchanon are all candidates to return punts. However, neither Jones nor Buchanon had great success in this area last year. The Bucs ranked 30 in the NFL in punt returns (6.5 avg.) in 2006.
Running backs Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham, cornerback Torrie Cox and Buchanon, Jones and Owens will all compete for the right to return kickoffs for the Bucs.
Last year, Tampa Bay ranked 25th in kickoff return average (21.5 avg.). In 31 seasons, the Bucs still have never returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a regular season game.
The Bucs have their eye on several return specialists in this year’s draft, including Florida State RB Lorenzo Booker, Kansas State WR Yamon Figurs, Miami of Ohio WR Ryne Robinson and Michigan WR Steve Breaston, among others.
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