Well, look at that. It’s almost time for football again. After what was an action-packed off-season, filled with many major headlines, training camps around the league are starting up. I’ll be looking at a couple of things to watch out for, starting with the first three.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the 2011 season with an abysmal 4-12 record that was made possible by ten straight losses to end the season. However, ownership decided it was finally time to open up the wallets and they managed to land two of the top five free agents available. Here are a couple of things to watch at Buccaneers training camp in 2012.
1. Tight end battle
The Buccaneers traded away Kellen Winslow earlier this off-season, and opted to go with tight end Dallas Clark instead. The roster features Clark, Luke Stocker, Collin Franklin, Zach Pianalto, and rookie Drake Dunsmore.
Clark is the best tight end on the roster, but hasn’t been productive over the last two years because of injuries. Stocker was a fourth-round pick, and the team is very high on him. However, like Clark, Stocker has suffered multiple injuries. Look for these two to be the starters, followed by Pianalto and Dunsmore.
2. Running back blizzard
As expected with a Greg Schiano offense, the Buccaneers now have many options at running back, including LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin, Michael Smith, and Mossis Madu. Not one of these players is a lock to start, and the starting spot is up for grabs and will go to the best back out of camp.
However, the Buccaneers will likely carry Blount, Martin, and Smith on the 53-man roster, unless Madu or one of the other invites surprises. But it will be interesting to see who ultimately starts — Blount or Martin.
3. Defense, defense, defense
One of the worst units overall last season, the Buccaneers will look to improve the defense as a whole. This year, it will feature rookies Mark Barron, Lavonte David, Najee Goode, and Keith Tandy.
Barron will most likely start right away, so it will be interesting to see how he plays alongside Ronde Barber. David is also expected to start, but that is far from certain. He is a physical player and should be exciting.
Other than that, the other rookies will likely make the final roster, and have fairly important roles. Tandy could start in case of injury to a cornerback, and Goode should be solid as a role player.
Those are all important things to watch in training camp, and of course, I’ll have you covered on these and much more.
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