This has been an obvious area of target for the Bucs the last few years. We spent a first round pick on Davin Joseph in 2006, a second round pick on Jeremy Trueblood in 2006, a 2nd round pick on Aaron Sears in 2007, a 3rd round pick on Jeremy Zuttah in 2008 and made a huge free agent acquisition this offseason with C Jeff Faine. What used to be the worst unit on the Buccaneers is now one of the youngest and brightest spots on the team.
Currently on the Roster – Dan Buenning, Chris Clark, Anthony Davis, Chris Denman, Andrew Economos, Jeff Faine, Brian Johnson, Davin Joseph, Donald Penn, Luke Petigout, Dennis Roland, Aaron Sears, Jeremy Trueblood, Jeremy Zuttah
Gauranteed Roster Spots – Andrew Economos, Jeff Faine, Davin Joseph, Donald Penn, Aaron Sears, Jeremy Trueblood, Jeremy Zuttah, Donald Penn
Economos is entrenched as the long snapper. He will not ever see the field on non punting downs, but he is good at what he does, and Gruden likes him. Aaron Sears (LG), Jeff Faine (C), Davin Joseph (RG) and Jeremy Trueblood (RT) are locked in as starters. Sears and Joseph are devastating young run blockers with huge ceilings. Trueblood is also a mammoth and has shown steady improvement in his 1.5 years starting at RT. He is a fearsome defender of his teamates, and looks to have a bright future for the Bucs. The Buccaneers made Faine the highest paid center in the league this offseason. He doesn’t not bring the same mauling behometh style that Joseph, Sears and Trueblood embody, but he is a great C who is an adequate run blocker and solid pass protector. The only knock on him is his size, but engulfed by Joseph and Sears on both sides, he should fit into this line perfectly. Rookie, Jeremy Zuttah, will most likely be the primary backup at all the interior line positions. I still think he has an outside chance to start at LT, but, appears to not have the quickness neccesary to do that in today’s NFL. He does have experience there at Rutgers, so don’t automatically rule this scenario out. Donald Penn finished the 2007 season as the starter for the Buccaneers. He was a relative unknown to most Bucs fans to start the season, but the starting LT Luke Petigout was injured (fathom that) and Penn stepped in and played admirably. I think that this should be an interesting camp battle, as Gruden seems to like Petigout, but his injury history is well known at this point. Is it worth having the upgrade for 4 or 5 games until Petigout gets hurt, or continue to build some continuity with Penn as the starter. Should be a good camp battle regardless.
Battling for Spots – Dan Buenning, Anthony Davis, Chris Denman, Luke Petigout
I would personally like to carry 8 lineman going into the season, so there is a good chance the majority of these 4 will make the roster. I once had high hopes for Buenning (so did Gruden) but his constant injury history has not let him get continued time on the field. He can still provide a great backup at the interior positions, but might be behind Zuttah in that regard. He may have a hard time making the roster for the Bucs in his 4th NFL season. Denman was a 7th round pick of the Bucs in 2007, but was released right before the start of the season. The Bucs resigned him in January of this season. He could provide some depth at the tackle spots. He is raw, and more likely to be moved to the practice squad. Anthony Davis should have the easiest opportunity to make the roster. In my opinion, not a real starting caliber player, but he has started for the Bucs in the past. His real asset is the fact that he could truly play any position on our line and as a backup, that is invaluable. Petigout was mentioned earlier in regards to Donald Penn. If he is healthy through camp, he will certainly make the team. An injury in camp, or a flare up of something that was already existing, he could end up on the chopping block.