Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Oneil Cousins

W2W4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

August, 23, 2014
8/23/14
8:00
AM ET
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) and the Buffalo Bills (1-2) play a preseason game Saturday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Three things to watch:

1. This will be the game that will determine if the Bucs are content with the guards on their roster or if they get desperate and move someone in from the outside. Oniel Cousins and Patrick Omameh played adequately as the starters last week. The Bucs are hoping for another solid performance from that duo against the Bills. If that doesn’t happen, the Bucs really don’t have any other attractive internal options and they might have to look to make a trade or claim someone off the waiver wire.

2. The Bucs unveiled a no-huddle offense last week and the first-team offense produced a quick touchdown off a turnover. But the starting offense has yet to put together a lengthy scoring drive. With the starters expected to play into the third quarter, it’s time for the offense to show it can put together a long drive.

3. The pass rush hasn’t done a lot in the preseason. The Bucs have produced only two sacks so far. That’s not the kind of production that’s expected from the pass rush in a Lovie Smith defense. Gerald McCoy has been sensational in the middle of the defensive line, but Adrian Clayborn and Michael Johnson have been quiet on the outside. It’s time for them to make an impact.

Buccaneers shake up depth chart

August, 19, 2014
8/19/14
8:53
AM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put out a new depth chart Monday night and it's the most realistic one yet.

Evans
First-round draft pick Mike Evans is now listed as a starter at wide receiver. Evans had been listed behind Chris Owusu on the first two depth charts. But that was just a case of being courteous to a veteran. Evans was getting much of the first-team work by late in training camp and there was little doubt he'd be a starter by opening day.

Another highlight of the depth chart is at guard, where the Bucs have Oneil Cousins with the first team at left guard and Patrick Omameh at right guard. That's the same combination the Bucs used in last week's preseason game with Miami. If Cousins and Omameh have decent outings in Saturday's preseason game at Buffalo, they should lock up the starting jobs.

On the defensive side, one thing looks off. The Bucs are listing Mike Jenkins as a starting cornerback. Jenkins has been out most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. Second-year pro Johnthan Banks has played well in Jenkins' absence.

The Bucs aren't saying it on their depth chart yet, but I think Banks has moved ahead of Jenkins.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith was trying hard not to say too much Sunday about his plans for the offensive line. But the look on his face provided some clues.

“Last week, I think I had a frown on my face as I was talking,’’ Smith said. “I’m not frowning right now.’’

That’s because Smith was much happier with what he saw out of his offensive line in Saturday’s preseason game with Miami than he was the previous week against Jacksonville. The play of the offensive line, particularly the guards, was horrible against the Jaguars.

Guard has been a position of concern all along. Former All-Pro Carl Nicks left the team at the start of training camp after he was unable to recover from a toe injury. The Bucs have experimented with a combination of guards throughout training camp and the preseason.

Oniel Cousins and Patrick Omameh started on Saturday night.

Cousins
“I thought the group held their own,’’ Smith said. “We saw improvement. But, as I’ve said all along, our plan was to let everybody have an opportunity one way or another. When you get to the third preseason game, you’re getting ready for the season and the group we put out there right now, they’ve earned that right to get the majority of the plays this week. It will all be fairly clear on what we’re thinking.’’

Although Kadeem Edwards , Jace Daniels and Jamon Meredith also have been in the mix at guard, it appears as if Cousins is on his way to winning one starting job.

“For Oneil to be in there two weeks, that’s kind of telling you we think we know what he is for the most part,’’ Smith said. “He played solid ball.’’

Smith said Omameh also graded out well but wouldn’t say if he would get the start in the third preseason game at Buffalo. But teams generally like to have their starters set by the third preseason game.

“I think [Omameh] held up,’’ Smith said. “When I say he played well, I’m talking about all the things we ask him to do. Inside, you’ve got to be able to one-on-one block versus run, versus the pass. Our quarterbacks for the most part the protection gave them time to hit the receivers. Patrick was a part of that. Last week, the guards were at the top of our minds because of that constant quick pressure inside. He didn’t really allow that and that’s his first time out. If he’s in there this week, we’ll see how he does.’’

In other news, Smith said defensive end William Gholston and running back Mike James , who were injured Saturday night, likely will sit out the Buffalo game.

W2W4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

August, 16, 2014
8/16/14
12:00
PM ET
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) host the Miami Dolphins (0-1) on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.

Three things to watch:

The revolving guards. The Bucs still don't know who their starting guards will be. Time is running short to select the starters and allow them to build some chemistry with the rest of the line. Oniel Cousins, Patrick Omameh, Kadeem Edwards, Jace Daniels and Jamon Meredith each have had some work with the first team and no one has stood out in a good way. That needs to change or else the Bucs might get desperate and make a trade.

Josh McCown. The veteran quarterback didn't have a good outing in the preseason opener against Jacksonville. But most of that can be blamed on the offensive line woes. Still, McCown needs a better performance for this offense to build some confidence as it heads for the regular season.

The pass rush. The key to a Lovie Smith defense is the pass rush. There were some signs against Jacksonville that this can be a good pass rush with Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn on the outside and Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald on the inside.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Some unanswered questions as training camp ends:

Who are the starting guards? That’s the biggest question of all. The Bucs have been rotating Oniel Cousins, Patrick Omameh, Kadeem Edwards, Jace Daniels and Jamon Meredith. None of them have much experience. The Bucs are hoping two of them can step up enough to claim starting jobs. But they may have to look to the outside for help.

Who’s the slot receiver? There are several options here and the Bucs could use them all. Tight end Tim Wright has been lining up in the slot a lot. Receiver Chris Owusu could end up there. The Bucs drafted Patrick Herron mainly to play the slot. He got off to a slow start in camp, but has come on strong lately. Herron could get more playing time as the season goes on.

Who’s the nickelback? The answer to this one is pretty clear. Leonard Johnson has been getting all the first-team work. He’s set as the nickelback.

Who are the starting cornerbacks? Alterraun Verner’s a lock at one spot. But the other one remains a bit of a question mark. Mike Jenkins has been dealing with a hamstring injury. That’s created more reps for Johnthan Banks and he’s made the most of them. Banks appears to have the edge.

Who’s the starting tight end? This is not a one-person answer. The Bucs are going to play three tight ends extensively. Wright will line up in the slot and at H-Back as well as tight end. Brandon Myers and rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins also are going to get plenty of work with the first team and there will be a good amount of two tight end sets. All three tight ends are going to get a lot of playing time.

Bucs should trade for Alex Boone

August, 10, 2014
8/10/14
10:34
AM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- Since taking over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht have made a lot of noise about wanting to win now.

 They backed that up with the most aggressive free-agent period in team history. No expense was spared as the Bucs brought in what could be as many as eight starters.

But it’s time to get a ninth starter. It’s time for the Bucs to trade with the San Francisco 49ers for guard Alex Boone. He’s in a contract holdout, and it doesn’t look like the cap-strapped 49ers are willing to give Boone a raise.

The Bucs easily could afford Boone. They have $13.71 million in salary-cap room and could sign Boone to a bigger contract than he already has. The price tag for such a trade likely would be a mid-round draft pick.

That’s not too steep a price to pay for a guy who could straighten out the offensive line. And the offensive line certainly needs some help. That became very apparent during Friday night’s preseason opener with Jacksonville.

The Bucs are looking at four guards (Oniel Cousins, Jamon Meredith, Patrick Omameh and Kadeem Edwards) to fill two starting spots. Smith has said it’s not time to panic about the guard situation, but it might be time to do something.

Boone would be an upgrade over any of the guards currently on the roster. He could handle one starting spot. Then, the other four guards could compete for one starting job instead of two.
TAMPA, Fla. – A day after his offensive line, particularly the guards, struggled in the preseason opener, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith had some words for fans ready to hit the panic button.

“'Don’t overreact,' is what I would say," Smith said. “[The media] don’t lead the charge to start overreacting. Let it play out a little bit in the preseason. Just like when you come out of the first preseason game, don’t start printing up the Super Bowl tickets or cutting everybody on the team. Just let things play out a little bit. That’s what preseason games are for. The first live action this football team has had was last night. From there, give us a little bit of time and then we’ll see what we need, if we need something else."

But Smith wasn’t defending what he saw out of the guards in Friday night’s 16-10 loss to Jacksonville.

“It comes down to a one-on-one game," Smith said. “We didn’t handle some of those situations. What you want to see in the preseason is to put guys on an island to see how we could perform one on one. We got beat a few times, especially inside at the guard position."

Guard has been an area of concern for a long time. Carl Nicks walked away from the game at the start of training camp after he was unable to recover from a toe injury. But Nicks’ status was iffy for months before his ultimate decision and the Bucs did very little to provide strong alternatives.

Right now, both starting guard spots are wide open. The Bucs have been rotating Oniel Cousins, Jamon Meredith, Patrick Omameh and Kadeem Edwards at guard. Smith repeatedly said it’s not time for the Bucs to panic.

“As I talk about [not getting] too alarmed by some of our play inside at the guard position, you can’t get too high on what happens with some of the better plays, too," Smith said. “Everybody had flashes."

But Smith wouldn’t rule out the possibility of changes at guard. There has been speculation that the Bucs could be interested in San Francisco guard Alex Boone, who currently is in a contract holdout. It also is possible the Bucs could bring in another guard or two once teams start trimming rosters.

“We’re always looking to improve the ballclub," Smith said. “If there’s someone out there that can, we’re looking at him. But, yes, we feel comfortable with the guys [in camp]."

W2W4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

August, 8, 2014
8/08/14
12:00
PM ET
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) and Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) open the preseason Friday night at Everbank Stadium.

Three things to watch:

1. Tampa Bay’s offensive line: This is the biggest area of question for the Bucs. They overhauled the offensive line in the offseason, but some uncertainty remains. The Bucs will use the preseason games to determine who ends up starting at the two guard spots. Jamon Meredith, Patrick Omameh, Oneil Cousins and rookie Kadeem Edwards are candidates to start. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, left tackle Anthony Collins and right tackle Demar Dotson are set as starters, but the Bucs need two guards to step up and claim jobs.

2. Josh McCown: The veteran quarterback probably will only play about a quarter, but this is his first action as a member of the Buccaneers. McCown was handed the starting job when he signed as a free agent and he has looked solid throughout training camp. McCown looked sharp for Chicago last season when he was filling in for an injured Jay Cutler. If McCown can be as efficient as he was last season, the Bucs will be in good shape.

3. The return of the Tampa 2 defense: That is the defense that was made famous in Tampa Bay by Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin back in the 1990s. The Bucs got away from the Tampa 2 when Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano were the head coaches. But Lovie Smith, an assistant on Dungy’s original staff, is a big believer in the Tampa 2 and has brought it back to the Bucs.

Bucs' guards might not be so bad

August, 6, 2014
8/06/14
7:17
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- A lot of fans are nervous about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line. There's been skepticism in the media because the Bucs don't have any clear-cut starters at guard and the candidates don't have a lot of experience.

After Carl Nicks left the team because of a toe injury, the Bucs have been rotating Jamon Meredith, Oneil Cousins, Patrick Omameh and Kadeem Edwards at guard. But coach Lovie Smith said he's not particularly worried about the offensive line.

"To me right now, I have concerns about every position on the team," Smith said. "I haven't seen any live action with our football team. I'm anxious to see what we have. I know we've looked good in drills. [All-Pro defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy is a dominant defensive lineman inside. We've been judging our guards based on going against him and [defensive tackle] Clinton McDonald and players like that and they've held their own."

Smith has a point. The guards aren't going to have to face a player like McCoy every week. The practice sessions against him should be making the guards better.

Here's another thought I have about the guard situation. Yes, it's less than ideal. But the Bucs are better off at guard than they were last season when veteran Davin Joseph was struggling and Nicks was missing all but two games. Joseph had a dismal year as he tried to recover from knee surgery. The Bucs used several players at Nicks' spot and didn't get great results.

This year's guards might not be experienced, but at least they're healthy and they should only continue to get better.

Bucs not stressing about O-line

August, 5, 2014
8/05/14
3:00
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t have a clear-cut starter at either guard position. But coach Lovie Smith doesn’t sound worried about that as his team gets ready for its first preseason game Friday at Jacksonville.

Throughout training camp, the Bucs have been rotating Jamon Meredith, Oneil Cousins, Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards at the guard spots.

“Players have told us who gets the first opportunity,’’ Smith said. “Who deserves reps? That’s what you try to get leading up to the preseason games.’’

The Bucs lost former All-Pro Carl Nicks when he decided to leave the team just before camp due to a toe injury that hadn’t healed. The Bucs still could bring in a guard or two from outside. But Smith sounds like he’s prepared to go with what he has.

“We like the prospects,’’ Smith said. “We don’t have a lot of players around the position that have started a lot of games. We have young talent on the line. You go against [All-Pro defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy every day, you get better. We’re getting better.’’

Collins
Besides the guard positions, there have been other major changes on the offensive line. Guard Davin Joseph and left tackle Donald Penn are gone. The Bucs signed free-agent center Evan Dietrich-Smith and left tackle Anthony Collins.

That’s a lot of change for an offensive line, but Smith isn’t worried about a lack of chemistry.

“I don’t think you have to play together five years to get that chemistry,’’ Smith said. “We’ve had a lot of practices together, a lot of time together in the meeting rooms. Green Bay is a distant memory for Evan. Cincinnati is a distant memory for Anthony. They’re coming along.’’

Smith isn’t the only one with confidence in the offensive line. Collins said Tampa Bay could turn out to have one of the league’s best offensive lines.

“We’ll become famous to the city,’’ Collins said. “We’ll become famous to our own teammates. We’ll become famous to the staff that works here. It’s on the O-line, period.’’

First glance at Bucs' depth chart

August, 5, 2014
8/05/14
12:47
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have put out an unofficial depth chart in advance of Friday's preseason game. I emphasize that it's unofficial and should be used only as a starting point, but the depth chart does provide some interesting items.

Let's start with the offense. Oniel Cousins and Jamon Meredith are listed as the starting guards. I think those names are written in pencil because Patrick Omameh and Kadeem Edwards remain in the mix.

The other item of note on the starting offense is that Chris Owusu is listed as a starting wide receiver. I think that's simply a courtesy to a veteran. There's almost no doubt rookie Mike Evans will be starting when the regular season gets here.

On defense, there are no surprises among the starters, but it's worth noting that first-team cornerbacks Alterraun Verner and Mike Jenkins both have been out with injuries. Coach Lovie Smith considers nickelback a starting position and the depth chart features Leonard Johnson as the starting nickelback.

Another item of note on the defense is that Da'Quan Bowers, who has spent his career at defensive end, is listed as a second-team defensive tackle.

On special teams, Eric Page is listed as the first-team kickoff and punt returner, but the Bucs are going to use the preseason to take a look at some other candidates.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 2

July, 26, 2014
7/26/14
8:30
PM ET
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.
Let’s continue our position-by-position look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the offensive line. This unit isn't going to look anything like last season and that's a good thing because this was a problem spot.

Right tackle Demar Dotson is the only player certain to return to the same starting position he had last season. Veterans Donald Penn, Davin Joseph and Jeremy Zuttah are gone.

The Bucs were very aggressive in free agency as they sought to rebuild the line. They spent big money on left tackle Anthony Collins and decent money on center Evan Dietrich-Smith. They also brought in guard Oniel Cousins for depth.

But a big question mark remains at guard. That’s the health of Carl Nicks, who has appeared in only nine games the past two seasons due to injury. The Bucs and Nicks have said he’ll be ready for the start of training camp, but he missed the entire offseason program.

If Nicks is healthy, the entire line suddenly gets a lot better because he’s one of the best guards in the league. But, if Nicks has any setback, that’s a huge blow. Cousins, Patrick Omameh and Jamon Meredith will compete for the other starting spot and two of them could start if Nicks isn’t ready.
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation's Pat Yasinskas examines the three biggest issues facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading into training camp.

Josh McCown needs to play like he did last season: McCown’s been a backup most of his career. But he played the best football of his life last season for Chicago after starter Jay Cutler went down with an injury. That was enough to convince the Bucs that McCown can be a productive starter. McCown has history with Lovie Smith, and he already has established himself as one of Tampa Bay’s leaders. The Bucs have made it clear that they view Mike Glennon as their quarterback of the future. But the best-case scenario is that Glennon never even gets on the field this season. If he doesn’t, that means McCown is playing well. At 35, McCown has a chance to firmly establish himself as a starter for the first time in his career. His chances of succeeding are good because he's surrounded by good skill-position players such as Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.

Carl Nicks’ health is a key: The left guard played only two games last season while dealing with a toe injury and a MRSA infection. Nicks repeatedly has said he expects to be ready for training camp. But, as of the team’s June minicamp, Nicks hadn’t even started running or cutting. He’s admitted that there is permanent damage to his foot and said he’ll have to play through pain the rest of his career. It all sounds shaky, and you have to wonder if Nicks really can make it back and if he’ll be the same player. The Bucs need Nicks to be what he was earlier in his career. When he’s healthy, Nicks is one of the best guards in the league. He could be the anchor of what has the potential to be a very good offensive line. If Nicks isn’t fully recovered, there’s a sharp drop-off to rookie Kadeem Edwards and veterans Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins.

The pass rush needs to flourish: Smith prides himself on having teams that play strong defense. The Bucs seem to have some talent on defense. But to hit their full potential, they need the pass rush to be strong. The pass rush was a weakness last season, and that’s why the Bucs signed free agents Michael Johnson and Clinton McDonald. The Bucs believe Johnson and Adrian Clayborn can bring a strong pass rush from the outside, and McDonald and Gerald McCoy can do the same from the inside. One of the requirements for the Tampa 2 defense is for there to be a strong pass rush from the front four. If the Bucs get that, they’ll be in good shape defensively. The Bucs are in good shape at linebacker and in the secondary. If the pass rush shows up, this defense has a chance to be special.

Best Bucs camp competitions

June, 20, 2014
6/20/14
8:11
AM ET
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.

SPONSORED HEADLINES