Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Peyton Hillis

Surveying the Buccaneers' roster

September, 1, 2013
9/01/13
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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
8/30/13
1:23
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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.

Why the Bucs played CB, WR at RB

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
9:32
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TAMPA, Fla. -- If you’re wondering why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were using a defensive back and a wide receiver at running back in Thursday night’s preseason finale, let’s allow coach Greg Schiano to explain.

"Mike James got an eye injury; he left the game," Schiano said. "Then Peyton Hillis twisted an ankle. So now we have no running backs."

Starter Doug Martin and top backup Brian Leonard were given the night off, so the Bucs were in a jam. The Bucs turned to cornerback Mason Robinson and receiver Jordan Norwood, who was acquired this week, as running backs late in the game.

“Norwood was actually a little bit of an ad-lib," Schiano said. "I’d like to tell you we had two emergency running backs; we didn’t. But Norwood, we know, is a good athlete, and he did a good job. They both hopped in there and contributed. Mason was going both ways because (cornerback Rashaan) Melvin tweaked a hamstring a little bit."

Norwood carried seven times for 26 yards. Robinson had nine carries for 12 yards.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Most of the starters aren’t expected to play in Thursday night’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins. But there still are plenty of important decisions that could be impacted by what happens in this game.

Let’s take a look at three things to keep an eye on for the Bucs:

1. The backup running backs. Brian Leonard, Mike James and Peyton Hillis all have looked good in the preseason. They’re all competing to be the top backup to Doug Martin, but I don’t think anyone has pulled away from the pack just yet. This game could be a final opportunity to do that. The Bucs also face a tough decision on if they want to keep three or four running backs. If they go with three, Hillis could be the odd man out.

2. The offensive line. The starters won’t play, but the Bucs still need to set the tone for better pass protection. In the first three preseason games, the Bucs have allowed 12 sacks. Guard Carl Nicks hasn’t played at all in the preseason, and guard Davin Joseph appeared in only one game. You can put some of the blame for the offensive line’s play on the absence of Nicks and Joseph. But, still, the linemen have to do a better job in pass protection.

3. Mike Glennon. The rookie will get the start at quarterback as starter Josh Freeman gets ready for the regular season. Glennon has played extensively this preseason and has shown some good things at times. But he also has completed only 48 percent of his passes. He needs to show he can be more accurate. The Bucs also need to decide if they want to go with just Freeman and Glennon on the roster or if they want to keep veteran Dan Orlovsky around as insurance.

All throughout the preseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been waiting for quarterback Josh Freeman and the first-team offense to get into a rhythm.

They’re still waiting.

Freeman, who played deep into the third quarter, was far from effective Saturday night in his longest stint of the preseason. He completed 6 of 16 passes for 59 yards in the Bucs' 17-16 victory against the Miami Dolphins.

Sacks, penalties, dropped passes, a lost fumble and inaccurate throws were the story for Freeman and the first unit. The only touchdown by the first team came on a Brian Leonard run after the special teams gave the Bucs good field position when a punt bounced off a Miami blocker.

I never like to read too much into what happens. But I think the Bucs should be concerned about Freeman and the offense.

Some other quick observations on the Bucs:
  • Despite Freeman's struggles, I don't think it's time to declare a quarterback controversy in Tampa Bay just yet. Rookie backup Mike Glennon did lead the Bucs to the game-winning touchdown after safety Sean Baker handed them good field position with a long return of a fumble recovery. But Glennon didn't have a good night overall.
  • The punt team came up with two turnovers that were converted into 10 points. Adam Hayward recovered two Miami fumbles.
  • The unsung story of the night was defensive end Trevor Scott, who recently was signed by the Bucs. Scott was in on three sacks. The Bucs haven’t been thrilled with the development of Da’Quan Bowers, and Scott could end up moving ahead of him.
  • Guard Davin Joseph, who is coming off a major knee injury, made his first appearance of the preseason. Gabe Carimi started at the other guard position in place of Carl Nicks, who is out with a staph infection.
  • Running back Doug Martin sat out, and that gave Leonard more playing time. Leonard continued to look good. He could end up as the top backup to Martin. The Bucs brought in veteran Peyton Hillis, but Leonard and rookie Mike James appear to be ahead of Hillis on the depth chart.
  • Kicker Rian Lindell, who was signed this week, made a 38-yard field goal.
  • Rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence appears to have locked up a starting spot. He had several tackles for loss against the run.
  • Tampa Bay’s first-team defense gave up some yardage but tightened up twice and made the Dolphins settle for two field goals.

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