Four Questions Heading into Bucs’ Training Camp
By Justin Beetz
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp dates were released a couple days ago and I immediately started to think about what I want to see while I am there and what questions I would like answered. Here is what I came up with:
Josh McCown 2013 mode?
One of the biggest questions this training camp will have to be how well McCown looks when the pads come on and it is more game ready. I have read nothing but good things about him this offseason and I am curious to see it as it gets closer to the season. Also, will Glennon push McCown for the starting spot or will it be a McCown landslide? I would like to see McCown succeed because he is a good guy and a great leader that Mike Glennon can learn a lot from. I believe this can be a solid year for the veteran and could really help this offense be productive this season. Add that up with the fact that much of this season’s success will depend on Josh McCown’s performance and you have one hell of a topic to look forward to during training camp.
Carl Nicks participation?
The last thing Nicks said was that he thinks he will be ready for training camp and the last thing Lovie said was that he passed his physical and that he is not worried. So the optimism for me is still there but I have to be honest, I just can’t buy it. For all the good reports I have read, I have read double the bad ones and Nicks is not doing too good at convincing me he will be ready to go. Nicks is one of the most important players for this season for the Bucs. He is one of the best players at his position when healthy and offensive guard, in my opinion, is without a doubt our biggest need by a longshot. If Nicks returns at 80%, that will be much better than any other offensive guard we have on this team, assuming Evan-Dietrich Smith holds down the Center spot. With this being said, I am starting to question why we traded Jeremy Zuttah when we knew offensive guard was going to be an issue.
Free Agents performing?
The Bucs made a lot of moves in free agency with all of the money that was tied up into the Darelle Revis deal and some believe the team had the best offseason out of any team in the NFL. I tend to agree with the rest and say we killed it in free agency, adding big names such as Micheal Johnson, Alterraun Verner, and Josh McCown. The Buccaneers also added a couple of other good players like Anthony Collins and Clinton McDonald. Now the question is this: Will they show up and prove they are all ready to come in and play at a high level? The potential is there for every player I named thus far, but with these players also comes a couple of other question marks.
Micheal Johnson went from 11 sacks to just 3.5 in only one year. Some say it was the scheme he was playing in, but I am looking for a big training camp from him to prove to me and the world that he can be a top defensive end in this league.
Verner comes into camp with not many question marks, did great for the Tennessee Titans in zone defense, and will most likely be running zone a good amount this season.
McCown got to show off during his five games last season, but not so much any year before that. That begs the following question: Which version of Josh McCown will we get?
McDonald is one of my favorite signings because he was a fantastic rotational player for the Seahawks and I believe he can be a very good starter for this team. Paired up with McCoy, I think he can wreak some havoc and be a quarterback’s worst nightmare.
Collins was rated as the top offensive tackle in the NFL last year after allowing an astounding 0 sacks and playing so well while he was in. My question with him now is this: How is his durability? Can he last a whole season? Let’s wait and see.
What is Demps’ role?
A lot of fans may be over Jeff Demps after he decided to choose track over football last year, but I still have a little bit of faith left in me for the fastest player in the NFL to do some damage this year. Demps had shown a few little sparks of what he can do last season before his hamstring injury. He presented his unbelievable quickness and acceleration, and with the right offensive coordinator, I think he can be a dangerous weapon. Lovie has been caught praising Demps, saying he loves having the fastest player in the NFL on his team. Tampa Bay’s head coach has also stated that the former Florida standout was getting some reps at slot receiver on top of his running back reps.
I am confused, however, about reports I have read that he has not been practicing the team’s return duties. Lovie has harped on how important his return man is and you would think that with the speed Demps brings to the table, he would at least be given some reps at kick and punt return. Don’t overthink what I am saying, but I look for Demps to be used much like Darren Sproles was utilized for the Saints. I can also see him being shifted out to the slot receiver position in shotgun formations, and maybe even used to create some wildcat plays. All of this could just be dreaming and he could have no impact at all this year, but that is why it is one of my questions going into training camp and not an answer.
Overall, I cannot remember a time where I have been more excited for training camp than this season. With all of the key changes on this team, and a coach that I believe can put the pieces together and bring the best out of every player, there is plenty of hype. My guess is that Buccaneer fans who attended last year’s training camp will be much happier to see a team that looks twice as prepared as Schiano’s men.