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July 29, 2011; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Ahmad Black (43) during training camp at One Buc Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Safety First


The safety position is turning out to be one of the more interesting positions on the defense this year. And Mark Barron, first round draft pick and firmly entrenched in the SS spot is actually the least of the points of interest.

The next one up for intrigue would logically seem to be Ronde Barber, but that’s kind of old news at this point too. However in the wake of the first full OTA’s of this season it’s the former incumbent and a guy who was riding the pine for much of last year who promise to bring the most intrigue.

At the recent OTA’s one safety made a trio of interceptions and arguably showed the most dynamic play. Was it 1st round draft pick Mark Barron? Wily veteran and apparently new safety Ronde Barber? Nope. It was Ahmad Black, last year’s 5th round draft pick.

Black, who had a great career as a dynamic playmaker for the Florida Gators (in 2008 he had 7 interceptions and 2 TD’s) never made it onto the field last year until late in the season. He’d had some nagging injuries but contributed at the end of the Bucs disappointing 2011 season. If he’s fully healthy and can continue to make plays, especially for the new coaching staff, expect to see Black make significant contributions this year and depending on how things play out, in the future as well.

The other player in the secondary we haven’t heard much about this year is Cody Grimm. Grimm, the incumbent free safety last year, had another injury to end his 2011 season. However when Grimm has been on the field he’s done well and occasionally been a playmaker. Much like Gerald McCoy, these past two seasons have showed much promise, some production and lots of question marks, particularly when it comes to being called “injury prone”, that dreaded tag that’s occasionally placed on players like Grimm and McCoy. But even though all the talk has been about Ronde Barber moving to free safety, again I’m confident the coaching staff will start the best practice and game player. Which means that in either case, be it Barber or Grimm starting, the backup will be an experienced backup capable of starting at any time, which gives the Bucs much needed depth at one of their secondary spots.

With training camp much closer than you and I think, this will all play out very soon.


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