NFC South: Tim Wright

TAMPA, Fla. -- Last week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith stepped out of character and criticized tight end Tim Wright for not performing as well as expected.

Wright
This week, it appears as if Smith had a plan to light a fire under Wright. On Thursday, Smith said he’s happy with what he’s seen out of Wright recently.

“He’s responded well,’’ Smith said. “Let me go back and talk on Tim. I love Tim Wright as a football player. You go through spells where you don’t play your best ball for a short period of time. When I talked [previously], there was a little period of time where Tim hadn’t played his best ball.

“But, you look at the big picture, Tim Wright has been a good football player for us. We like what he’ll be able to do. There have been other days we’ve talked about, going forward, what we’re going to do with him. You can split him out, the matchups we have with safeties and linebackers. You can catch me at any time and I might be disappointed in a player. But, big picture, no, there’s no disappointment with Tim Wright. We like him being on our football team.’’

Wright said he was surprised by Smith’s comments, but was motivated by them.

“It does, for sure, especially when you’re in camp and it’s Week 3 and you’re grinding and grinding,’’ Wright said. “You go in robot mode a little bit. Once you hear those comments, it just drives you more to go out there and try to be even better.’’

Wright appears to be back in good graces and I think his roster spot is safe. The Bucs have been using Wright at times as an H-back and he’s expected to be an important part of the offense.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 2

July, 26, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The Bucs, who had their practice abbreviated by lightning Friday, got their first full workout of camp in Saturday evening and the results were predictable. There was good and bad. No series summarized that more than a couple of plays near the middle of practice. On one play, quarterback Josh McCown threw an interception to strong safety Mark Barron. On the next play, McCown bounced back and hit Vincent Jackson with a perfectly thrown ball. Coach Lovie Smith said he expects the team to be more precise when it puts on pads for the first time on Sunday.
  • Speaking of first practices, Saturday marked the true debut of rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He missed the offseason program due to NCAA regulations and was very limited in the rookie minicamp by a foot injury. But Seferian-Jenkins said his foot is fine now and he practiced with no limitations. After missing so much time, though, Seferian-Jenkins might be a little behind the other tight ends – Brandon Myers, Tim Wright and Luke Stocker. “He’s playing catch-up,’’ Smith said. “But he’s catching up.’’
  • It’s usually tough to get players to talk about specific goals, but defensive end Michael Johnson broke that rule of thumb. Johnson set one goal for himself and one for the entire defense. He wants to get back to double-digit sacks like he had in 2012 with Cincinnati. He also said the Bucs want to have the best defense in the league. Those two goals kind of go hand in hand. There’s been a lot of talk about how defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David compare to Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, who were the cornerstones during Tampa Bay’s glory years. But a lot of people forget the Bucs didn’t fully get over the top until they got Simeon Rice as an outside rusher. If Johnson can make an impact anywhere close to what Rice did, the Bucs could end up being a very good defense.
  • I came into camp very skeptical about Tampa Bay’s depth at wide receiver after Jackson and rookie Mike Evans. But I’m starting to warm up to this position group. No one stood out, but guys like Tommy Streeter, Solomon Patton, Russell Shepard, Louis Murphy, Robert Herron, Lavelle Hawkins, Eric Page, Skye Dawson and David Gettis each had some bright moments. I think one of those guys will step up and claim the No. 3 job. That may be all the Bucs need because I’m not anticipating a lot of four-receiver sets from this offense.
  • Read into this whatever you want, but Jamon Meredith worked as the first-team left guard and Oniel Cousins worked at right guard. After the departure of Carl Nicks, I think the Bucs still are trying to figure out what they’re going to do at guard. I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards get some looks with the first team.

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.
Ever since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Austin Seferian-Jenkins, it seems as if the other tight ends on the roster have been forgotten by the general public.

But one other tight end has caught the eye of coach Lovie Smith. That's second-year pro Tim Wright.

"Tim is a guy I should have talked about more because he's another guy that does something well it seems like every day," Smith said. "Nowadays, with the emergence of the passing game and you've got to be able to pass to win and this good stuff, the matchup, though, tight end versus safety, tight end versus linebacker -- Tim, we have a good matchup with Tim Wright. He of course can do things in line, but he can split out, he can run all of the passing tree, he's natural moving out and running routes too. I'm very pleased with him and all he's done since Day 1. He's a guy that's been here every day and we've seen him doing that."

Although Seferian-Jenkins' draft position (second round) probably makes him the favorite to win the starting job at tight end, there's room for Wright to get playing time. A wide receiver in college at Rutgers, Wright made the switch to tight end last year and caught 54 passes as a rookie.

The Bucs also have Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker at tight end. We don't know a lot about coordinator Jeff Tedford's offense just yet, but the Bucs have the potential to use a lot of two tight end sets.

Myers was signed as a free agent because he can do a little bit of everything. Stocker also has skills as a receiver and a blocker, but he's had trouble staying healthy.

Previous coach Greg Schiano didn't do a lot of good things with the Bucs. But moving Wright to tight end was a move that could pay off for the new coaching staff because Wright has the potential to cause matchup problems for linebackers and safeties.
On Wednesday, we talked about running back being one of the most crowded positions on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster.

Now, it's time for a look at another position that suddenly is overflowing with depth. That's tight end.

After using a second-round pick on Austin Seferian-Jenkins, tight end suddenly is one of the deepest positions on the roster. That's a good thing because it was one of the thinnest spots on the roster last year.

Seferian-Jenkins is an all-around tight end with the ability to help as a runner or a blocker. His draft status probably means he'll be the starter. The Bucs also have Tim Wright, Brandon Myers, Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree.

How does the depth chart line up after Seferian-Jenkins? Teams usually carry three tight ends and that means there will be two odd men out. Things will sort themselves out in training camp and the preseason.

But, right now, I'd say Myers and Wright are likely to stay on the roster while Crabtree and Stocker could be expendable. The Bucs paid decent money to sign Myers as a free agent and Wright caught 54 passes last year as a rookie.

The previous regime had high hopes for Stocker and Crabtree, but those two were dealing with injuries last year and barely made an impact. If Stocker and Crabtree are going to have any chance of making the roster, they'll need to make strong impressions in training camp and the preseason.
There’s an old saying that you can’t judge a draft for at least two years. I think that’s fair.

But we live in a time when immediacy is expected. With that in mind, how do we put an early gauge on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ draft class?

I say the best way to do it is to look to see how many draft picks – at the moment – will be starters on opening day. I’m speculating here, but I’ll say the Bucs got two opening-day starters out of this draft.

I think the first two draft picks, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, will be in the starting lineup in September. Evans is a very safe bet to be there because the Bucs have no other real threats to win the starting position opposite Vincent Jackson. Evans is a plug-and-play starter and I think he’s got a very good chance to be productive with opposing defenses also having to deal with Jackson.

I also think Seferian-Jenkins will be an instant starter, even though he’s going to have a little more competition than Evans. The Bucs already had Tim Wright, Tom Crabtree, Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker. All four of those tight ends have some positive qualities, but Seferian-Jenkins has the potential to be the most complete player of the bunch.

I don’t want to sell the rest of Tampa Bay’s draft class short. The other four rookies all could end up as starters eventually. But I think running back Charles Sims, guard Kadeem Edwards, tackle Kevin Pamphile and receiver Robert Herron will be backups as rookies.
With the first minicamp over, let’s take a look at whose stock is on the way up and whose is on the way down.

FALLING

Carl Nicks. Although the team had said before the minicamp that there was optimism Nicks would be ready to go, he wasn’t. He still is recovering from a toe injury that sidelined him almost all of last season. Nicks said he’s making progress in his recovery and he expects to be ready for training camp. But Nicks also admitted he has nerve damage in his foot and may have to play through pain the rest of his career. It’s time to start wondering if Nicks will be the same player he was before the injury.

Luke Stocker. There’s no clear-cut starter at tight end and Stocker should be in the mix. But he was sidelined with an unspecified injury. Stocker missed most of last year with an injury. He may already have fallen behind Brandon Myers and Tim Wright on the depth chart.

Da'Quan Bowers. He didn’t take part in drills as he recovers from an unspecified injury. Some players can afford to miss minicamp. Bowers isn’t one of them. The defensive end might have trouble even making the regular-season roster.

RISING

Chris Owusu. The Bucs have a glaring need at wide receiver and Owusu used the minicamp to show he can contribute. He’s not in line for a starting job, but could end up as the third, fourth or fifth receiver.

Josh McCown. Tampa Bay’s new quarterback looked exceptionally sharp. His passes were very accurate and he seemed to have a good grasp of the new offense. McCown already is well on the way to establishing himself as a team leader.

Bobby Rainey. The backup running back isn’t a threat to beat out Doug Martin. But Rainey might be on his way to earning some playing time. Rainey looked very good in the minicamp and showed some signs he can contribute as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Minicamp questions for the Bucs

April, 22, 2014
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As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin a three-day minicamp Tuesday, let's explore some of the biggest questions facing the team.

Is there really a competition at quarterback? Not in minicamp, where most of the time is spent installing the offense. Josh McCown will get the first-team work and Mike Glennon will work with the second team. If Glennon is going to have any chance at surpassing McCown, he’ll have to thoroughly outplay him in training camp and the preseason. Unless the Bucs draft a quarterback in the first round, this is McCown’s job to lose.

Will the offensive line be better? It probably can’t be worse than last year when the line’s play was a major disappointment. The Bucs blew up that line and they’ve overhauled it with additions like left tackle Andre Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Still, the biggest question is whether guard Carl Nicks, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, can get back to full strength. If Nicks is totally healthy, he might be the best guard in the game and he makes everyone around him better.

Who starts at wide receiver opposite Vincent Jackson? Let’s be brutally honest. That player isn’t on the roster yet. The Bucs may open minicamp with someone like veteran Louis Murphy running with the first team. But Murphy will be competing for the fourth or fifth receiver spot before all is said and done. This team still needs to add a second and third wide receiver.

Who’s the tight end? The answer to that one may come in plural form. Tim Wright did some nice things as a rookie last season. But Wright is limited as a blocker. That’s why the Bucs brought in Brandon Myers. He can contribute as a blocker and a receiver. The Bucs aren’t likely to use a fullback very often, which means there could be a lot of two-tight-end sets.

Aside from Lavonte David, what’s the situation at linebacker? David is set as the weakside starter, which is the most important linebacker spot in coach Lovie Smith’s defense. Mason Foster is the favorite to remain the starter in the middle, but he needs to show he can drop into coverage much more frequently than he’s done in the past. Jonathan Casillas appears to be the favorite to start on the strong side.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Cornerback Leonard Johnson, tight end Tim Wright, quarterback Mike Glennon, defensive tackle Akeem Spence and linebacker Lavonte David were the big winners for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL’s performance-based pool for 2013.

The pool is designed to compensate players who had relatively low salaries compared to their 2013 playing time. Dozens of Bucs received bonuses, but we’ll stick with the top ones here. The bonuses do not count toward the salary cap.

Johnson led the way with a $208,864 bonus. Wright ($200,592), Glennon ($183,209), Spence $181,593) and David ($180,190) rounded out the top five. The rest of the top 10 was made up of safety Keith Tandy ($152,646), cornerback Johnthan Banks ($145,655), linebacker Mason Foster ($133,268), receiver Tiquan Underwood ($127,927) and linebacker Dekoda Watson ($105,647).

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.

Best bargains on the Buccaneers

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
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TAMPA, Fla. -- We all know about the high-salary players for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, like Darrelle Revis and Gerald McCoy. But let’s have a little fun and take a look at five Buccaneers who are relative bargains

Cornerback Johnthan Banks ($1.07 million cap figure for 2014): Banks had ups and downs as a rookie, but there is plenty of upside. Any time you have a starting cornerback counting only $1 million toward the cap, you’re doing pretty well.

Linebacker Lavonte David ($946,836 cap figure): This guy is one of the biggest bargains in the league. He’s an All-Pro who is counting less than $1 million toward the cap. To clarify an earlier post about David’s contract situation, the collective bargaining agreement prohibits the Bucs and David from doing an extension until after his third season, so he’s locked in at a bargain rate for this season.

Defensive tackle Akeem Spence ($616,000 cap figure): Spence was a starter at nose tackle through almost all of his rookie season. It remains to be seen if he’s a good fit in the new regime’s defense. But, at worst, Spence should be able to help as a rotational player.

Safety Keith Tandy ($600,000 cap figure): Because of injuries and suspensions for Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron, Tandy wound up starting five games last season and produced five interceptions. This guy is a quality backup.

Tight end Tim Wright ($498,000 cap figure): A converted wide receiver, Wright got a lot of playing time because of injuries, and he made the most of it. Wright produced 54 catches. He needs to improve his blocking if he wants to be an every-down tight end, but he’s shown he can be a receiving threat.
TAMPA, Fla. -- New Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith comes from a defensive background. But Smith and the new general manager are going to have to spend the majority of their offseason building the offense.

With the exception of adding a pass-rusher, I don’t see a lot of big needs on defense. I look at the offense, however, and see needs just about everywhere.

Glennon
There are only three or four sure things on offense. Doug Martin is set at running back, and Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are set as the wide receivers, although the Bucs would be wise to add some depth at receiver. You might be able to include guard Carl Nicks on this list, but only if he’s fully recovered from a bout with MRSA and a toe injury that kept him out most of last season.

Aside from those three or four spots, nothing is a given. Smith had some praise for quarterback Mike Glennon at his introductory news conference. But Smith stopped well short of saying Glennon will be his starting quarterback.

I liked some of what I saw out of Glennon in his rookie season, and think he could be good with a strong supporting cast. But, at this point, I think the Bucs should at least bring in someone to compete with Glennon.

Speaking of competition, the Bucs need to add some at tight end. They might have stumbled onto something with Tim Wright, but they still need a blocking tight end.

Speaking of blocking, I don’t know that any spot is safe on the offensive line. That unit did not play well last season, and several offensive linemen are carrying large salary-cap figures.

The bottom line is that Tampa Bay’s offense is going to look a lot different than last season, when Williams and Martin missed most of the season with injuries. That won’t be a bad thing.
 
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final power ranking: 27
Preseason power ranking: 22

Biggest surprise: Tim Wright came to training camp as an undrafted wide receiver from Rutgers. He ended up as the starting tight end. That happened because a series of injuries left the Bucs in desperation mode at this position. But let’s give Wright some credit for quickly emerging as a legitimate threat in the passing game. He still has room for improvement as a blocker, but the Bucs might have found something special in Wright.

 Biggest disappointment: Entering the season, the Bucs thought this would be the year that Josh Freeman firmly established himself as a franchise quarterback. That didn’t come close to happening. Freeman was late for several team functions and that put him on coach Greg Schiano’s bad side. It didn’t help as Freeman struggled in the first three games. The Bucs turned to rookie Mike Glennon and eventually released Freeman.

Biggest need: The front office and coaching staff made a conscious decision to let defensive end Michael Bennett, who led the team in sacks in 2012, walk as a free agent. The thinking was that Da'Quan Bowers was ready to emerge as a pass-rushing force. But Bowers never emerged and Tampa Bay’s pass rush wasn’t very good. Rookie William Gholston showed some promise as the season went on, but the Bucs still need to upgrade the pass rush in the offseason.

Team MVP: There really are only two candidates -- defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. McCoy was outstanding, but I’m giving the nod to David. In his second season, David developed a knack for making big plays. People compared him to Derrick Brooks as soon as he was drafted by Tampa Bay. I thought that was a little premature, but I’m starting to think David can be the second coming of Brooks.

 

Mike Glennon has hit a slump

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
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TAMPA, Fla. – One time might have been an exception. Two times might have been a fluke.

But string three shaky performances by a rookie quarterback together and it sure looks like a trend.

[+] EnlargeMike Glennon
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesMike Glennon completed 18 of 34 passes and threw an interception in his third straight shaky game.
No matter how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spin it – and they certainly tried – Mike Glennon took several steps backward in Sunday’s 33-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Following back-to-back rough outings against Carolina and Buffalo, Glennon on Sunday completed 18 of 34 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.

The numbers don’t do justice to how pedestrian Glennon and the offense looked while falling behind 17-0 before finally stringing together a scoring drive at the end of the first half. That’s where the postgame spin came in.

"I don’t think he took steps back today," coach Greg Schiano said of Glennon. "The only way we moved the ball was when we went to two-minute and no-huddle, and Mike’s the one who controlled the whole operation, moving it down the field against arguably one of the top three defenses in the league. We didn’t perform in some areas. But I think Mike gave us the spark."

Yeah, the drive at the end of the first half was nice. So was a lengthy drive at the end of the third quarter that wound up with Glennon throwing a touchdown pass to Tim Wright on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut San Francisco’s lead to 20-14.

But the NFL plays a 60-minute game, and the most telling statistic of the day might have been that the 49ers held the ball for 39:50, while the Bucs had it for 20:10. Glennon wasn’t getting any help from the running game.

While the Bucs were going three-and-out on most of their early possessions, Glennon, whose strength is supposed to be the deep ball, was throwing mostly dump-offs.

"I just go through my progression," Glennon said. "If my progression takes me there, that’s where I’m going to go. With the style of defense they play, we just had to get completions and kind of play that kind of game. We knew it was going to be tough to throw the ball down the field."

Virtually all of Glennon’s success came when the Bucs went with a hurry-up offense. That makes it fair to question whether the Bucs should be putting more on Glennon’s plate.

"I don’t think we’re playing around him," Schiano said. "I think he’s got the full playbook. Can we do more? We have done some. What we went to today was true no-huddle because we felt that was one thing we had some success with at the end of the half and we said, 'Let’s be ready to jump into it.' We did it all but one series in the third and fourth quarters. The problem is they had a 10-minute drive in the fourth quarter. They played keep-away, which is what you worry about with that offensive football team because they’re capable."

But, for most of the day, Tampa Bay’s offense wasn’t capable of doing its job.

Looking at Buccaneers' playing time

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
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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

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