NFC South: Jamon Meredith

Best Bucs camp competitions

June, 20, 2014
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With the start of training camp a little more than a month away, it’s time to look ahead to the best battles.

Tight end. Rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins might be the long-term answer. But he might not get a lot of playing time in the short term. Seferian-Jenkins wasn’t allowed to take part in the offseason program and that could put him behind the competition. Brandon Myers, Tim Wright and Luke Stocker all have more experience.

Right guard. Patrick Omameh worked with the first team through most of the offseason program. But he still needs a good camp to win the starting job. Oniel Cousins and Jamon Meredith also could be candidates to start.

Third wide receiver. This one is far from settled. Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans will be the starters, but the Bucs need production out of some more receivers. Veterans Chris Owusu and Louis Murphy looked good in the offseason program and the team has high hopes for rookie Robert Herron.

Cornerback. Alterraun Verner is set as one starter. But the other spot figures to be a strong competition between Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins.

Backup running back. Doug Martin is the starter, but the Bucs want to use a rotation. Bobby Rainey, Mike James, Charles Sims and Jeff Demps will all be vying for carries.
One of the biggest question of the offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remains unanswered.

Will Carl Nicks be ready for the start of training camp in late July?

That appears to be anyone’s guess right now. Nicks, who missed almost all of last season with a toe injury and a MRSA infection, previously has said he expects to be ready for training camp. But it remains to be seen if he still is on target. The team has been quiet about Nicks’ status.

He was seen working with trainers on the side during the early part of the offseason program. But, at least on the days the media is allowed to watch workouts, Nicks has not been seen in several weeks.

Oniel Cousins and Jamon Meredith have been working as the first-team guards in recent weeks. The Bucs close out their offseason program with a minicamp that runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are optimistic that guard Carl Nicks will be ready to take part in the team’s offseason program, which begins in April.

“We certainly hope so,’’ general manager Jason Licht said Monday.

Nicks missed all but two games last season while dealing with a toe injury and a bout with MRSA.

“He’s moving along pretty good,’’ Licht said. “So far, we’ve been pleased with his progression. He’s continuing the rehab and we’ll see where that goes.’’

Nicks’ progress might be part of the reason the Bucs traded away center/guard Jeremy Zuttah to Baltimore on Sunday. A healthy Nicks would fill one guard position.

At the moment, Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins would be the top candidates to start at the other guard position. But Licht said it remains possible the Bucs could draft a guard.

“I think that’s going to be an open competition,’’ Licht said. “I think we’re going to go with who the best player is.’’
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent out a strong signal that they expect guard Carl Nicks to be healthy for the upcoming season.

The team traded away center/guard Jeremy Zuttah to Baltimore for a 2015 mid-round draft pick on Sunday, a day before the NFL owners meetings begin.

Nicks missed all but two games of last season after dealing with a toe injury and a MRSA infection. Zuttah spent last year playing center, but also has experience at guard. The Bucs previously addressed their center position by signing free agent Evan Dietrich-Smith. The fact the Bucs were willing to trade Zuttah shows they’re confident Nicks will be back for the 2014 season.

The Bucs are looking at Nicks as one of their starting guards. Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins are the candidates for the other starting guard spot. But the Bucs still could make a move for a guard in free agency or the draft.

Projecting a lineup: Offense

March, 21, 2014
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the league's busiest teams in free agency. That means the roster will have a new look.

Factoring in the new additions, let's take a look at what the starting lineup currently looks like starting with the offense:

McCown
Quarterback: Coach Lovie Smith has made it pretty clear that veteran Josh McCown is his starter. McCown would have to have a horrible preseason and Mike Glennon would have to light it up to have a shot at starting.

Running back: Doug Martin is the main guy here, but Smith has said he wants to spread carries around. That means Mike James and Bobby Rainey will be getting playing time.

Wide receiver: Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are the incumbent starters, but there's not much behind them. That's why this is a position where the Bucs are still going to make moves.

Tight end: The Bucs signed Brandon Myers as a free agent and he's the early favorite to win the starting job. Tim Wright did some nice things as a rookie last year, but he's not much of a blocker.

Collins
Offensive tackles: The Bucs have made it clear that free-agent pickup Anthony Collins is their starting left tackle. That means Demar Dotson will stay at right tackle.

Offensive guards: Assuming Carl Nicks is healthy, he's the starter at one guard position. But the other spot is wide open. Jeremy Zuttah, Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins could be candidates for the starting job, but the Bucs might not be done at this position.

Center: The Bucs signed free-agent Evan Dietrich Smith from Green Bay and his arrival pushes Zuttah to guard.

Buccaneers add more depth

March, 16, 2014
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued their free-agent frenzy Sunday by signing two players that are likely to fill roles as backups.

The Bucs signed former New England linebacker Dane Fletcher and former Cleveland guard Oniel Cousins.

Fletcher has been a backup middle linebacker and special-teams player for New England and is likely to play behind Mason Foster. Cousins was a part-time starter in Cleveland and he could factor into Tampa Bay’s overhaul of the offensive line. The Bucs previously released veterans Davin Joseph and Donald Penn and signed tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Cousins could get a chance to compete with Jamon Meredith and Jeremy Zuttah at guard.

Bucs practice report: Change at guard?

December, 26, 2013
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TAMPA, Fla. – The Buccaneers could have a lineup change at left guard in Sunday’s season finale.

Jamon Meredith had been starting at the position, but he was replaced by Ted Larsen during last week’s loss to St. Louis. That arrangement may continue against New Orleans.

“I wouldn’t say that for sure yet, but [there is a] good chance Ted will be the starter,’’ coach Greg Schiano said.

In injury news, linebacker Dekoda Watson (groin) did not practice Thursday. Safety Mark Barron (hamstring) was limited. Schiano also said that defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday morning, had surgery to clean out his knee.

In other news, Schiano said rookie defensive end William Gholston, whose playing time has been increasing steadily, will get his second career start Sunday.

Looking at Buccaneers' playing time

December, 10, 2013
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It's time for our weekly look at how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers distributed playing time.

In a 27-6 victory against the Buffalo Bills, the Bucs ran 66 offensive plays and were on the field for 67 defensive snaps. Here's a look at the individual playing time from Sunday.

OFFENSE

Donald Penn 66
Jamon Meredith 66
Demar Dotson 66
Mike Glennon 66
Tim Wright 59
Vincent Jackson 57
Jeremy Zuttah 51
Tiquan Underwood 45
Davin Joseph 43
Erik Lorig 42
Bobby Rainey 37
Ted Larsen 36
Brian Leonard 25
Chris Owusu 21
Gabe Carimi 16
Russell Shepard 14
Kyle Adams 11
Skye Dawson 7
Mike Hill 5
Spencer Larsen 2
Eric Page 1

DEFENSE

Dashon Goldson 66
Johnthan Banks 66
Mark Barron 66
Gerald McCoy 66
Darrelle Revis 66
Lavonte David 59
Leonard Johnson 58
Adrian Clayborn 56
Mason Foster 53
Akeem Spence 43
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 39
William Gholston 23
Keith Tandy 15
Da'Quan Bowers 14
Adam Hayward 12
Steven Means 11
Derek Landri 11
Dekoda Watson 10
Danny Gorrer 1
Ka'Lial Glaud 1
Kelcie McCray 1

Surveying the Buccaneers' roster

September, 1, 2013
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After making their cuts Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a roster that looks a lot like what I projected Friday.

I hit on 51 of 53 roster spots. Defensive tackle Gary Gibson and offensive lineman Cody Wallace were the two guys I had making the team who didn’t make the final cut. I didn’t have tight end Tim Wright and safety Keith Tandy making the roster, but they did.

Let’s take a brief overview of the composition of Tampa Bay’s roster:

QB (3): Josh Freeman, Mike Glennon and Dan Orlovsky

Comment: The question is whether Glennon or Orlovsky will be the No. 2 quarterback. My thinking is the Bucs wouldn’t have held onto Orlovsky if he’s going to be No. 3.

RB (5): Doug Martin, Erik Lorig, Brian Leonard, Mike James and Peyton Hillis

Comment: Leonard, James and Hillis all looked good in the preseason. They all can be used to help keep Martin fresh.

WR (5): Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Kevin Ogletree, Tiquan Underwood and Eric Page

Comment: The first four were pretty much set in stone. Page made the roster mostly because he’s going to be the return man.

TE (4): Luke Stocker, Tom Crabtree, Nate Byham and Tim Wright

Comment: Presumably, the Bucs kept Wright around because they expect Crabtree to miss some time with an ankle injury.

OL (8): Donald Penn, Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, Davin Joseph, Demar Dotson, Gabe Carimi, Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith

Comment: By carrying only three backups, the Bucs appear to be optimistic that Nicks won’t miss too much time due to a staph infection.

DL (9): Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Trevor Scott, William Gholston, Steven Means, Gerald McCoy, Akeem Spence and Derek Landri

Comment: McCoy, Spence and Landri are the only true defensive tackles. The Bucs must be planning to use at least one of their ends on the inside at times.

LB (6): Lavonte David, Mason Foster, Jonathan Casillas, Dekoda Watson, Najee Goode and Adam Hayward

Comment: The starters have a chance to be one of the league’s best units, and the backups aren’t bad either.

DB (10): Darrelle Revis, Johnthan Banks, Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer, Rashaan Melvin, Michael Adams, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron, Ahmad Black and Keith Tandy

Comment: This should be the most improved area on the team.

Specialists (3): Rian Lindell, Andrew Economos and Michael Koenen.

Comment: Lindell is the third projected kicker the Bucs have had. Connor Barth and Lawrence Tynes both are out with injuries.

Projecting the Buccaneers roster

August, 30, 2013
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Roster cuts don’t have to be made until 6 p.m. Saturday. But let’s have a little fun in the meantime.

Let’s take a look at my best guess as to how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 53-man roster will shape up:

Quarterbacks (3): Josh Freeman, Mike Glennon and Dan Orlovsky

Analysis: A rough outing by Glennon in the preseason finale might have convinced the Bucs it’s best to keep Orlovsky around.

Running backs and fullbacks (5): Doug Martin, Brian Leonard, Mike James, Peyton Hillis and Erik Lorig

Analysis: Hillis is very much on the bubble. The fact he doesn't play special teams could hurt him. But he also could stick around because he has the size to be a backup for Lorig at fullback and could be a valuable short-yardage rusher.

Tight ends (3): Luke Stocker, Tom Crabtree and Nate Byham

Analysis: The Bucs may have to keep Danny Noble if Crabtree’s ankle injury is going to keep him out for an extended period.

Wide receivers (5): Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Kevin Ogletree, Tiquan Underwood and Eric Page

Analysis: Page has emerged as the return man and that should earn him the final roster spot.

Offensive line (9): Davin Joseph, Carl Nicks, Donald Penn, Demar Dotson, Jeremy Zuttah, Gabe Carimi, Ted Larsen, Jamon Meredith and Cody Wallace

Analysis: The Bucs could carry an extra lineman if it looks like Nicks will be out for an extended period.

Defensive line (10): Gerald McCoy, Akeem Spence, Adrian Clayborn, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Da’Quan Bowers, Gary Gibson, Trevor Scott, William Gholston, Steven Means and Derek Landri

Analysis: The last few spots are very competitive and the Bucs could look to bring in a defensive tackle from the waiver wire.

Linebackers (6): Lavonte David, Mason Foster, Dekoda Watson, Jonathan Casillas, Adam Hayward and Najee Goode

This position is pretty clear-cut unless the Bucs bring in someone off waivers.

Defensive backs (9): Darrelle Revis, Johnthan Banks, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron, Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer, Michael Adams, Rashaan Melvin and Ahmad Black.

Analysis: Melvin is very much on the bubble.

Specialists (3): Michael Koenen, Andrew Economos and Rian Lindell.

Analysis: Kicker Lawrence Tynes still is recovering from a staph infection and could end up on injured reserve.

Leonard Johnson leads Bucs' pool

March, 13, 2013
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Tampa Bay cornerback Leonard Johnson, who went undrafted but got a lot of playing time as a rookie, earned the most of any of the Buccaneers in the NFL’s 2012 performance-based pool.

Johnson earned an extra $227,000, according to league sources.

Other Tampa Bay players to earn more than $100,000 in the pool, which is designed to reward players with low base salaries who get significant playing time, were linebacker Lavonte David ($215,000), offensive lineman Ted Larsen ($203,000), defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim ($178,000), fullback Erik Lorig ($178,000), linebacker Mason Foster ($167,000), safety Ahmad Black ($164,000) receiver Mike Williams ($160,000), offensive lineman Jamon Meredith ($145,000), tight end Luke Stocker ($126,000) and offensive tackle Demar Dotson ($126,000).

Looking at Bucs' offensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
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When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Vincent Jackson to a five-year, $55 million contract last offseason, it was clear they expected him to earn the money.

Jackson did that by instantly becoming a true No. 1 wide receiver. But he also put in plenty of time. Jackson was on the field for 93.04 percent of Tampa Bay’s 1,049 offensive plays.

The only other wide receivers with higher playing-time percentages in 2012 were Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (97.91 percent), Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (96 percent) and Atlanta’s Roddy White (93.21).

Here’s a look at the breakdown of playing-time percentage for the rest of Tampa Bay’s offense:
There are a lot of injury issues in the NFC South this week. Let's take a look at the latest on the most significant injuries:

ATLANTA FALCONS

The Falcons have a star-studded cast of players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with Arizona. Receiver Julio Jones, who has not practiced all week due to an ankle injury, highlights the list. If Jones can’t play Sunday, the Falcons likely would start Harry Douglas and use Drew Davis or recently signed Tim Toone as their third receiver. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) did not practice all week, has missed two straight games and is listed as questionable. In the cases of both Jones and Weatherspoon, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons take a cautious approach and sit them, especially since the game is on turf and against a struggling opponent. The Falcons also are listing defensive end John Abraham (back) and running back Michael Turner (groin) as questionable. But both participated in Friday’s practice on a limited basis.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Although he practiced this week, there still is uncertainty if running back Darren Sproles will be able to play Sunday. Interim coach Joe Vitt said Sproles experienced some swelling in his hand and is listed as questionable. Running back is one position where the Saints have plenty of depth and they can continue to use a rotation of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory if Sproles isn’t ready to go. Right tackle Zach Strief (groin) has been ruled out for Sunday. That means it’s likely Charles Brown will start in his place.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Despite missing Thursday’s practice receiver/return man Armanti Edwards (groin) is probable for Sunday. Coach Ron Rivera also said Jeff Byers will start at right guard Sunday. There had been speculation that Jeremy Bridges, who was signed earlier this week, might move immediately into the starting lineup. But Rivera said Bridges still needs to work on conditioning.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Guard Jamon Meredith (ankle) participated in Friday’s walk-through, giving the Bucs some hope he might be ready to go. Cornerback Eric Wright also practiced after missing Thursday’s session due to what coach Greg Schiano said was a personal reason.

Checking the injuries that matter most

November, 15, 2012
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We’ve got a bunch of significant injuries around the NFC South, so let’s take a look at the latest news.

Carolina Panthers receiver/kick returner Armanti Edwards (groin) sat out Thursday's practice. That could clear the way for rookie Joe Adams to get back on the field. Adams began the season as Carolina’s main return man, but lost the job after having problems with fumbles. Captian Munnerlyn has been handling punt returns, but hasn’t been very productive. If Adams is healthy, the Panthers could put him back in place as their punt returner and either he or David Gettis could return kicks.

New Orleans right tackle Zach Strief (groin) missed another day of practice and it appears as if Charles Brown will get another start in his place. On the positive side, running back/return man Darren Sproles participated fully in practice.

Tampa Bay’s battered offensive line could be taking another hit. Right guard Jamon Meredith did not practice Thursday due to an ankle injury. The Bucs already have had to shuffle their offensive line several times after losing guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks to season-ending injuries. Roger Allen is the only backup guard listed on the team’s depth chart and he recently was elevated from the practice squad. But reserve tackle Jeremy Trueblood and backup center Cody Wallace also could get consideration at guard if Meredith isn’t able to play Sunday at Carolina. Also, cornerback Eric Wright missed practice, but coach Greg Schiano said it was for personal reasons. There was a FOX Sports report several weeks ago that Wright will face a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. When asked if that situation had something to do with Wright’s absence, Schiano simply said the cornerback will play if he’s healthy Sunday.

Atlanta receiver Julio Jones (ankle) missed a second straight day of practice. Backup receiver Kevin Cone also was out. If Jones can’t play Sunday, the Falcons likely would start Harry Douglas opposite Roddy White and they’d have to use Drew Davis and recently-signed Nick Toone as their backup receivers. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) also was held out of practice. Coach Mike Smith indicated Wednesday there was a chance Weatherspoon might be cleared to practice Thursday, but it’s starting to look like the Falcons might have to get through another game with Akeem Dent and Mike Peterson sharing Weatherspoon’s role.

Around the NFC South

November, 15, 2012
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Let's take a quick look at the headlines from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Jeff Schultz writes that the Falcons have flaws, but points out every NFL team does. That’s very true. It may seem like the world is picking the Falcons apart right now. But the fact is they’re 8-1 and some of their flaws are fixable. This team still is in very good shape.

Retired running back LaDainian Tomlinson came to the defense of Michael Turner, saying he needs more carries to get into a rhythm. I get the point, but the Falcons started making it very clear back in the offseason that Turner’s carries would be limited. Also, keep in mind that Tomlinson and Turner were teammates in San Diego.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Although Cam Newton has struggled at times, members of Tampa Bay’s defense said they’re still taking the challenge of facing the quarterback Sunday very seriously because he has the ability to make big plays at any time.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Although he is currently serving a suspension and isn’t supposed to have contact with anyone from the Saints, Sean Payton is allowed to negotiate a new contract with the team, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. Payton’s contract extension, which was agreed to over a year ago, was voided because it contained language that said he could get out of the deal if general manager Mickey Loomis left the Saints. The NFL didn’t want to set a precedent in which a coach’s job status was tied to that of someone else in the organization.

With a lot of other quarterbacks injured around the league, Drew Brees said he’s been lucky to stay healthy throughout his time with the Saints. There might be some luck involved, but I think Brees also has been helped by a good offensive line and a scheme that doesn’t have him sitting in the pocket for long periods of time.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph already are out with season-ending injuries, but the Bucs may have to re-shuffle their offensive line again. Jamon Meredith, who has been starting at right guard, is dealing with an ankle injury. If he can’t play at Carolina on Sunday, the Bucs would have to consider several alternatives, including starting Roger Allen or moving backup tackle Jeremy Trueblood to guard.

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