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Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Weakest link: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

By Pat Yasinskas

We conclude our series on the NFC South’s weakest links with a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their situation at tight end.

At the moment, the tight ends on Tampa Bay’s roster are Nate Byham, Tom Crabtree, Evan Landi, Zach Miller, Danny Noble and Luke Stocker. If that list doesn’t impress you, you’re not alone.

Last year’s top pass-catching tight end, Dallas Clark, remains a free agent and it’s unclear if the Bucs have any interest in bringing him back. Aside from Clark, there isn’t much in the way of tight ends in free agency.

Although it might not excite anyone, I think there’s a chance the Bucs might stick with what they have at tight end. The team still has hope that Stocker can develop into a solid all-around tight end.

There’s also a belief in the front office and on the coaching staff that Crabtree can be a more productive pass-catcher if he is given more opportunities than he had in his Green Bay days.

The Bucs have no flash at tight end. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is a clear pecking order in Tampa Bay’s passing game. Starting receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, whoever ends up as the third receiver and running back Doug Martin are going to catch the bulk of the passes.

The tight ends are going to be used as blockers and, occasionally, as safety valves in the passing game.