Midweek Gameplan

This is a new trial weekly column for The Pewter Plank

The Lack of coaching may effect the results of the players run minicamp.

The Buccaneers’ Recent Week

The Buc’s wrapped up a player’s run minicamp and from all reports it was productive and they had a very good turnout. It is nice to see the young leaders like Josh Freeman get the players together to get them prepared for the upcoming season. I agree with Patrik Nohe’s article that it may not be nearly as productive without coaches around, but it is much better than sitting around playing video games. Team bonding is almost cliché these days, but it is more important than most people realize.

The more a team goes through the reps together, the more trust is developed and this translates to better results on the field. Teams win championships, not individual players and everyone gets better by working together. This is why coaches will do team building activities like bowling in training camp. It may not have anything to do with football, but it has everything to do with building the team’s chemistry and trust.

The downside is that the team is very young and needs coaches to instruct them properly. This creates a wildcard for the team with many of the core players having less than three years of experience, and many of the older players are bound for free agency of some sort. I realize that they have had coaching tutelage from pee-wee football through college, but the NFL coaches will fine tune techniques and keep them more focused during the drill. I had a coach in college who transitioned to the NFL, and he definitely made players that much better every drill of every practice.

The results of the player run minicamp will likely be evident in the first game they play (whenever that is), in that they will be either sharp and consistent, or out of sync. Here’s hoping for the former.

Injury Updates and Commentary

No major injury news in the last couple of months, but it is encouraging to hear about some of the players who were on injured reserve last year making it back out onto the field. As I wrote about at the end of the season, most players should recover from the injuries they suffered and should be ready for training camp. I had some concerns about Arrelious Benn, Brian Price, and Kareem Huggins. It sounds like Benn and Price are recovering very well (yet not quite fully up to speed), but that Huggins is still a question mark. It would be nice to have a medical staff around to monitor them on and off the field, but I am sure they are still getting good advice from their surgeons.

I really like the fact that I have not heard one word about Kellen Winslow’s knee during these workouts. When someone has chronic swelling and pain problems in a knee it is a very hard condition to treat and recover from fully. If he can get back to 100% and practice during the week, he may be in for his most productive season yet. Let’s see what happens when the intensity gets dialed up a bit, though.

NFL Matters

NFL.com reported that Terrell Owens’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, made comments regarding his client’s return to the NFL next season. The article states:

Rosenhaus confirmed in an interview with ESPN that the star wide receiver tore his anterior cruciate ligament and had surgery in early April. However, Rosenhaus said, his client “will be playing at the start of the NFL season.”

The chance of T.O. returning to the field in early September is probably around 5%. I have mentioned in posts before that ACL injuries are not all created equal, and that some are much more severe than others, but I have not addressed recovery. Obviously, I have no idea the extent of the injury, but I can comment on my experience with athlete’s recovery. I know someone will inevitably point out that Jerry Rice made it back onto the field about 14 weeks after his injury, but that is by far the exception in these cases. That is where the 5% comes from; otherwise it would be 0%.

While it is hard to quantify and there is no formal study on the subject to my knowledge, more muscular athletes have longer recovery time from ACL reconstruction, in my experience. The quadriceps muscle group almost always shuts down and atrophies from the surgery, Thus, it often takes the more muscular athletes longer to regain the full strength in the leg than quick, shifty players. In addition, there is a mental aspect for the athlete to trust the knee during cuts and contact.
I will agree that he may be on the field for opening weekend of the NFL, but it will be on the sideline.

Fantasy Focus

The Pewter Plank has never written much about Fantasy Football, but I am going to put tidbits in the column until my editor makes me talk about real football.

The Bucs took him in the first round. Where should he be in your fantasy draft?

Why I am including it is that I have been very successful in my league for the past couple of years and I wanted to use this to provide useless tidbits and hopefully spark interest.

This week I will address where to take Josh Freeman in your draft. As Bucs fans, you will inevitably gravitate towards your favorite team, especially in the mid to late rounds. Freeman won’t be projected to go in the first couple of rounds, and may even go undrafted in smaller leagues. Last year he finished in the middle of the pack of quarterbacks in a standard format. The thing is, that he has incredible potential for improvement this year and beyond.

If his receivers are healthy, and the running game is effective, Freeman will be good for a couple of touchdowns a game and very few interceptions. This makes him a dependable starter if you don’t get an elite quarterback. Thus, if you get a stud running back or two and a decent receiver, tight end or defense in the early rounds, take Freeman with a mid-round pick. Consider him as early as the fourth round if you are in a keeper league, as his upside is tremendous.

At The End of the Day

This section is dedicated to non-football topics where I can use the site to talk about other random things that I think about. I put it at the end so only the most loyal readers have to endure it.

If you are not a hardcore video gamer, but have a gaming system, I suggest you get the Lego Star Wars games. They are family friendly and entertaining for almost all ages. My wife will actually play the game with me so I don’t even have to worry about playing the game rather than any number of projects that she would rather have me doing. Of course, she mostly plays it because she loves the fact that the female characters will actually slap the head off an enemy if they are close enough. In addition, you in essence have unlimited lives and can play while drinking, which is always a plus.

Until next week, stretch your hamstrings; they pull easily.

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