The first wave of cuts was relatively easy for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as all of the players were expected to eventually be waived. But getting the roster from 75 down to 53 will be much, much tougher, writes Stephen F. Holder of the Tampa Bay Times.
Projecting the cuts at wide receiver, linebacker, defensive back and running back may prove a bit difficult, according to Holder. Several younger players further down the depth chart are battling for roster spots at crowded positions. Will the Bucs keep, say, an extra safety on board at the expense of a receiver spot?
All of the questions will be answered by Friday, when the team must cut its roster to 53. That should give most of the players on the bubble a chance to impress coach Greg Schiano and his coaching staff throughout this week, including Wednesday's preseason finale at Washington.
- Legacies of Freeman, Schiano tied together: If Josh Freeman is to overcome the scrutiny he faces with seemingly every pass, he will need to rely on coach Greg Schiano's schemes to make it happen. If Schiano is to follow the path of Jim Harbaugh in making the transition from college coach to successful NFL coach (and avoid the pitfalls of coaches like Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino and Steve Spurrier) he will need to nurture Freeman along. Coach and quarterback are intrinsically tied together in attempting to revive the Bucs' franchise, writes Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times.
- Talented rookie, veteran presence combine to make safety a strength: If the Bucs make a significant improvement defensively this season, a significant reason may be a pair of potential stars on the back end of the secondary. Rookie Mark Barron of Alabama has combined with 16-year veteran Ronde Barber (who converted from cornerback to safety this offseason) to beef up the team's pass defense, writes Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. It was Barber who tipped a Tom Brady pass that was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Barron in Friday's win over the Patriots. "It's good. This is our first real, full experience with it," Barber said of the position switch. "And Mark is going to be good, man. He's big and he's fast. He's got some great football instincts. It will be a good combination. He has still got some things to learn, he's willing to learn them."
- DT Okoye's health a concern: The season-ending knee injury sustained by guard Davin Joseph against the Patriots was a reminder of why teams hunt for quality depth. Tampa Bay thought it had addressed that need at the defensive tackle spot by signing Amobi Okoye and Gary Gibson this offseason, according to Stephen F. Holder of the Tampa Bay Times. But Gibson is just getting into the swing of things after an injury in training camp, and Okoye's knee is presenting problems. “He has a history with that knee,” Schiano said. “We knew when we decided to (sign him) that there was a chance that it was going to have to be handled. ... The way he practices, how much he practices -- we are kind of just trying to feel our way through it, see what he can and can't do.”
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