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News » Tampa Bay Buccaneers Strategy and Personnel 2008-08-28

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Strategy and Personnel 2008-08-28

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Strategy and Personnel 2008-08-28
The road to recovery just got longer for Bucs RB Cadillac Williams.

Williams was placed on the reserve Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday as the team reduced its roster from 80 to 75 players.

Williams, who suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee last October, won't be eligible to be activated to the roster for at least six weeks into the season.

The Bucs released four players, three of them injured: LB Antoine Cash (neck), CB Sammy Davis (hip) and S Donte Nicholson (knee). WR Paris Warren, who suffered a dislocated foot in the preseason a year ago, also was released.

Cash suffered a neck injury in Saturday's 23-17 loss to Jacksonville when he collided with CB Marcus Hamilton, who suffered a hip pointer on the play. Both Cash and Nicholson would be placed on injured reserve if they clear waivers. Davis is not subject to waivers and was placed on I.R.

Williams will not be able to practice with the team while on the PUP list. The move is not a surprise given the seriousness of his injury and the Bucs' crowded backfield that already includes Earnest Graham, Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett.

Warren, a seventh-round pick by the Bucs in 2005, never recaptured the form he had prior to his season-ending injury.

PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Michael Bennett - After his trade from the Chiefs last October, Bennett was lost in the Bucs' offense. He had trouble in pass protection and was rarely used. But this preseason, he has been the team's leading rusher. Bennett has tremendous and could be an explosive complement to Earnest Graham.


Rd. 1/20, CB Aqib Talib, Kansas -- Immense talent who may struggle with the demands of being a pro. Nonetheless, Talib will enable the Bucs to do more blitzing on third down because of his lockdown coverage ability.

Rd. 2/58, WR Dexter Jackson, Appalachian State -- Jackson is primarily a punt returner who could add kickoff returns to his list of duties. He's not a natural pass catcher and never had more than 33 receptions in any one season at ASU.

Rd. 3/83, OG Jeremy Zuttah, Rutgers -- Did not allow a sack in two seasons at tackle for Rutgers. Will come in handy with the injury to RG Davin Joseph, who will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken foot.

Rd. 4/115, DT Dre Moore, Maryland -- Raw talent who does not have much experience. Will provide depth and a good burst inside.

Rd. 5/160 QB Josh Johnson, San Diego - A real project, but could stick as the fourth QB.


QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Jeff Garcia. Backups - Brian Griese, Luke McCown, Josh Johnson.

Garcia is one of few quarterbacks in NFL history who has taken three different teams to division titles. But he always feels like he is being overlooked. That's why he has played for five teams in six seasons. Alas, he doesn't have to change his address this year. The challenge will be keeping Garcia healthy. If he goes down this season, the Bucs are more equipped to handle it with veteran Brian Griese.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters - RB Earnest Graham, FB B.J. Armstrong. Backups - RB Warrick Dunn, RB Michael Bennett, FB Byron Storer.

Graham had a breakout year and was rewarded. But the Bucs don't want to put the whole rushing load on him, so they re-signed Bennett and welcomed back Dunn, a perfect fit for the offense. The three players all have unique styles and complement each other.

TIGHT ENDS/H-BACKS: Starter - Alex Smith. Backups - Doug Gilmore, Ben Troupe, Jerramy Stevens.

It's a big year for Smith, who becomes a free agent after the season. Injuries have been a problem for him. Gilmore will add immediate help in the run game and is a better receiver than thought. Troupe hasn't stood out. Stevens will be a favorite target in the red zone when he returns from suspension.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard. Backups - Michael Clayton, Maurice Stovall, Antonio Bryant, Dexter Jackson.

There is quantity, but is there quality? Hard to say. Galloway was banged up all last season. Hilliard is 32 and was the team's leading receiver a year ago with 62 catches. The Bucs need someone to catch fire. Maybe Bryant, who has the talent but did not play last season.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LT Donald Penn, LG Arron Sears, C Jeff Faine, RG Davin Joseph, RT Jeremy Trueblood. Backups - T Anthony Davis, C Dan Buenning, G Jeremy Zuttah.

The Bucs have a young, aggressive offensive line that could be dominant. Faine brings experience and attitude. He has already challenged the unit to have the fewest sacks in the NFL, something he and his fellow linemen in New Orleans accomplished. Joseph's injury will hurt, but they have a capable rookie in Zuttah.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LDE Kevin Carter, NT Chris Hovan, UT Jovan Haye, RDE Gaines Adams. Backups - DE Jimmy Wilkerson, DT Dre Moore, DE Greg White, DT Ryan Sims, DT Greg Peterson.

The problem for the Bucs will be getting pressure with their front four. It all rides on the improvement of Adams, who needs to make a Mario Williams-like leap. Hovan has never been a big sack guy. Haye led all defensive linemen in tackles but was hurt in training camp. Carter is steady but better vs. the run.

LINEBACKERS: Starters - SLB Cato June, MLB Barrett Ruud, WLB Derrick Brooks. Backups - Quincy Black, Adam Hayward, Matt McCoy.

Ruud led the Bucs in tackles last season, taking away the title from Derr=

ick Brooks. He solidified the run defense. Brooks has shown some signs of slowing down but had one of his best years in 2007 after the addition of Cato June.

During the season, June took over some of Brooks' coverage responsibilities. But June's foot fracture prevented him from participating in the playoff loss to the Giants.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Phillip Buchanon, RCB Ronde Barber, SS Jermaine Phillips, FS Tanard Jackson. Backups - S Sabby Piscitelli, CB Aqib Talib, S Will Allen, CB Elbert Mack.

Barber called this the most athletic secondary he had ever been part of, including the 2002 Super Bowl team with Jon Lynch and Dwight Smith. No one is arguing with him. Talib is a beast, a rangy talent who catches the ball well and has natural coverage instincts. Jackson and Phillips are punishing hitters. Piscitelli can't get on the field but he is a great talent as well.

SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Matt Bryant, P Josh Bidwell, LS Andrew Economos.

Bryant has been a little erratic in the preseason, but the Bucs were confident enough in him and Bidwell not to add competition at those positions during the off-season.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 28, 2008

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