Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Harry Douglas

Bucs put emphasis on nickelback

August, 6, 2014
Aug 6
TAMPA, Fla. – Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins are competing for a starting cornerback job. Ordinarily, logic would say the loser of that battle automatically becomes the nickelback.

But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are following some different logic in this situation. Coach Lovie Smith treats the nickelback position differently than most coaches. He views nickelback as a starting position and is so serious about it that he listed it that way on the team’s first depth chart.

Leonard Johnson was listed as the starting nickelback, and he already might have the job locked up. Johnson has been working as the first-team nickelback throughout camp and has done a good job against slot receivers.

Smith is right to put such an emphasis on nickelback. Most teams use five defensive backs about half of the time. The nickelback covers whoever lines up in the slot, and that could be anyone from Harry Douglas to Calvin Johnson.

Smith has taken the emphasis on nickelback one step further than most. He has an assistant coach (Larry Marmie) who is assigned to work exclusively with the nickelbacks.

There has been some movement at the other two cornerback positions in camp as Alterraun Verner and Jenkins have dealt with injuries. But there hasn’t been any change at nickelback. Johnson has been getting all the first-team reps.

Verner will be the starter at one cornerback spot. Johnson will be the starter at nickelback. Either Banks or Jenkins will start at the other cornerback spot. The loser of that competition will end up as the fourth cornerback.

W2W4: Buccaneers-Falcons

November, 16, 2013
Three things to watch in Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons:

Tampa Bay's running game. The Bucs are a run-first team. That's not going to change with running backs Doug Martin and Mike James lost for the season. The Bucs simply will plug in Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey. There might be some drop-off in talent. But the offensive line, which has played very well lately, should be able to compensate for that.

Vincent Jackson. The veteran wide receiver has been held to 10 catches over the past three games and the Bucs want the ball in his hands more often. The good news is that Jackson had his biggest game of the season in the last meeting with Atlanta, catching 10 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Steven Jackson and Roddy White. The Atlanta running back and wide receiver sat out the previous meeting with injuries. They're back now and that should open new dimensions for the Atlanta offense. The Tampa Bay defense has been very good against the run. But the pass defense could be an issue. White and Harry Douglas, who had 149 receiving yards in the previous meeting, have the ability to make plays down the field.