Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Bucs still pondering safety options

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- Their game with the Atlanta Falcons and their explosive offense is four days away and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still aren't sure what they're going to do at safety Sunday.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"It's just common place here and One Buc Place and what we've been doing all season,'' coach Raheem Morris said Wednesday afternoon.

Morris is right about that. In Tampa Bay's surprising 7-4 start, the Bucs have stayed true to their youth movement. When injuries or disciplinary issues have hit at other positions, they've turned to their own practice squad, the practice squads of other teams and the waiver wire. It's led to some positive results, particularly with LeGarrette Blount at running back.

The Bucs are hoping a young player can make a similar rise at safety, a position that has been depleted. It started early in the year when Tanard Jackson was suspended for a year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. It continued Sunday when rookie Cody Grimm, who had done a decent job as a starter, suffered a season-ending injury. Then, the Bucs went even younger Tuesday when they released underachieving former starter Sabby Piscitelli.

That leaves them with one certainty at safety. Sean Jones will start at one spot, but the other is wide open. The leading candidate could be Corey Lynch, who has been mostly a special-teams player. The Bucs also have Vince Anderson, who they promoted from the practice squad Tuesday and they also signed Larry Asante off Cleveland's practice squad.

Morris said he still is evaluating the young players and wasn't about to declare a starter. But Morris also has been giving veteran cornerback Ronde Barber some work at safety for several weeks. We don't know if Barber's reps have increased this week, but that would make some sense. Atlanta has tight end Tony Gonzalez and putting Barber on him, as a safety, might give the Bucs their best possible matchup there.

All Morris would say was that Barber could move to safety "a little bit."