Monday, June 11, 2012
Minicamp hot spots for Buccaneers
By Pat Yasinskas
The New Orleans Saints had their minicamp last week. This week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers will take their turn, starting Tuesday.
We’ll have a preview on the Panthers a bit later and I’ll be arriving in Charlotte later Monday to get in place to cover the minicamp. But first, let’s preview the Buccaneers by taking a look at some of their minicamp hot spots.
Who’s No. 2? The only thing we know for sure is that Vincent Jackson will be the No. 1 wide receiver. You could say that Mike Williams has the inside track to be the No. 2 receiver because he’s been a starter the last two seasons. But I don’t think anything beyond Jackson as No. 1 is a given with the new coaching staff, especially after the coaches watched tape of Williams’ disappointing 2011 season. Maybe Williams will bounce back. But he needs to use the minicamp, training camp and the preseason to stay ahead of Arrelious Benn, Preston Parker and Sammie Stroughter.
The linebacker lineup: There’s been a little conspiracy theory flying among some fans because rookie Lavonte David hasn’t been working with the first team through the early stages of minicamp. Adam Hayward had been getting some first-team work, but David was with the starters (Mason Foster in the middle and Quincy Black on the strong side) when practice was open to the media last week. Unless David performs horribly from now right through the preseason, I don’t see how he’s not in the starting lineup on opening day. The Bucs didn’t trade back into the second round to get a guy that they plan to sit on the bench. I think the real competition for a starting job could come down to Black and Hayward.
The Ronde Barber experiment: At this point, it’s tempting to say that the move of the veteran cornerback to safety is permanent. That’s because Barber has been working at safety throughout the offseason and it looks like he and rookie Mark Barron will be the starters. But I don’t think anything is locked in just yet. That’s because cornerback Aqib Talib will face trial on an assault charge in Texas later in June. He could face prison time or punishment by the NFL. Other than Eric Wright, it’s not like the Bucs have a bunch of other quality cornerbacks. The Bucs know what Barber can do at cornerback and he easily can move back there if needed. If Talib stays with the Bucs and isn’t going to miss any time, then Barber might be more useful to the team as a safety. He also could play safety on early downs and line up against the slot receiver in passing situations, with Cody Grimm coming in at safety.