It’s time for another question from the Pewter Plank mailbag, and this time I took to Twitter to ask if any followers had questions about the Buccaneers, and got some great questions. This one comes from Robert:
@ThePewterPlank What are the most important things the bucs need to accomplish with the last few weeks of preseason?
— Robert (@icunvme66) August 14, 2013
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Another great question. So what do the Buccaneers need to do over the next three weeks before they start focusing on the New York Jets? I have three things I believe need to be resolved before the season kicks off in September:
Figure Out Who is Going to Be the Starting Tight End
So far in camp and the preseason, there has been absolutely no indication as to who will be the week one starter at tight end for the Buccaneers, and that’s something that has to be resolved. But just naming a starter doesn’t solve any problems; the Jets, for example, could name Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best option they have.
All of the Buccaneers’ current tight ends have some sort of shortcoming, so if a starter is named, it will be interesting to see which angle they choose. Do they go with the inexperience and inconsistent blocking of Tom Crabtree? Or do they choose the frustrating lack of performance from Luke Stocker, hoping he finally delivers on a bit more of the promise he has shown at times through his career. Or is there a chance that blocking expert Nate Byham gets the nod for his ability to pave the way for Doug Martin?
No matter what happens, the Buccaneers will need one of these players to perform above expectations to get anything out of the position this year.
Continue to Test Josh Freeman to Make Sure He’s Prepared
Reports out of New England today weren’t as positive on Josh Freeman, who had previously been earning rave reviews from training camp drills and scrimmages. So what was the cause of the setback?
— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) August 14, 2013
This is something the Buccaneers must continue to do to test Freeman. I think it should be a completely accepted fact that Freeman can perform without pressure. But there must be camp repetitions where Freeman is truly confused and out of rhythm to ensure he’s ready for the reality of the NFL, and not just the comfort of training camp.
I believe Freeman has what it takes to take the next step in his career in 2013, but he has to find a way to better process pressure from the defense, and better recognize and diagnose opposing defenses. It’s good that he was confused by the Patriot’s defense today, as it will hopefully prepare him for similar situations in the future, where he can react from experience.
There is no room for a major injury in Tampa Bay this year. Injuries are almost a certainty in the NFL, but hopefully the Buccaneers can make it to week one unscathed. There have been some minor tweaks to key players thus far, and of course the constant speculation and monitoring of those returning from injury.
But there has yet to be a devastating loss, like many other teams have felt this offseason. And while I don’t think the Buccaneers are as thin as many believe they are, a major injury would still put a wrench in the plans. The Buccaneers suffered a major injury during the preseason last year, when they lost Davin Joseph for the season. A similar injury this year would be devastating.
So after the Tom Brady injury scare today, hopefully there is a renewed effort to remain in one piece as the preseason rolls on, and we can all watch the Buccaneers 53-man roster unfold without injuries taking their toll.