Which five Bucs have the most to gain — and the most to lose — at training camp? Bucsblitz.com has the scoop for you in this exclusive analysis Just click here to find out who made the list.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LE Kevin Carter, DT Jovan Haye, NT Chris Hovan, RE Gaines Adams. Backups -- E Greg White, T Dre Moore, E Jimmy Wilkerson, E Marques Douglas, NT Ryan Sims, DT Greg Peterson.
Adams is now entrenched as the starter on the right side and spent most of the offseason shedding weight and gaining muscle for his second NFL season. He proved last year that he can handle being a starter, finishing with a strong second half once cracked the lineup and had six sacks. The Bucs expect more in 2008.
Carter may not be the starter for long, partly because the Bucs like White, who was a third-down pass rusher last year. White and Carter should compete for the position and will likely share time. White must prove he can play the run and isn’t limited to third down. He’s not happy about his contract status but there’s little he can do about it. If White proves he can play three downs, Carter moves inside.
Haye and Hovan are firmly entrenched. The Bucs want to see Haye do a better job of stopping the run, but his six sacks last year at under tackle were the most by any Bucs under tackle since Warren Sapp left. The Bucs love the pressure Haye brought from inside. Hovan is reliable and strong enough to take on two linemen at a time. Give him partial credit for LB Barrett Ruud’s great season a year ago. Hovan helped pave the way.
Wilkerson and Douglas are veterans that were signed for depth. Wilkerson is more of a pass rushing end, though he wasn’t asked to do much of it in Kansas City. Douglas has proved he can play any position in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. The Bucs see him as an end, but he’s broad enough and strong enough to rush from inside as well.
Moore is a rookie the Bucs love. They see him as a potential tackle of the future, and his 300-plus pound size is more reminiscent of Sapp and former tackle Anthony McFarland. Moore has a ways to go, though, before he becomes a serious contributor.
An offseason of personnel changes puts Sims and Peterson squarely on the firing line. Neither did much a year ago and must prove to coaches that they deserve a spot on the team.
Check out the previous articles in this series:
They were the nine biggest stories of the offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How did the Bucs do in the magnifying glass of hindsight? Did they do the right things to attack their team needs and keep the team on the winning track? Matthew Postins of bucsblitz.com examines those storylines and their impact on the upcoming season in his exclusive group of articles:
Vol. 1 — the coaching staff.
Vol. 2 — the secondary’s future.
Vol. 3 — is Jovan Haye a future star?
Vol. 4 — the precarious state at running back.
Vol. 5 — who will eventually replace Joey Galloway?
Vol. 6 — Jon Gruden’s contract extension.
Vol. 7 — What should the Bucs do at center?
Vol. 8 — re-signing a key tight end.
Vol. 9 — assessing the return game.
We’re gearing up for training camp at Bucsblitz.com. Today we’ve posted our first Mailbag feature, with answers to questions on Greg White, Jeff Garcia and a potential breakout player. Just click here to check it out. Part 2 will include an answer on Brett Favre and be published later this week.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla.