Luke Stocker will be given every opportunity to prove himself.
Kellen Winslow's gone and that's fine.
He's on his way to Seattle, lots of rain, good coffee and he can tell his quarterback there that he's open on every play.
Winslow's gone and that comes as great news to some, for most, it's something that was predictable. It was predictable because he's not Greg Schiano's kinda guy. He was Mark Dominik's kinda guy back in 2009 when he gave up a second and fifth round draft pick and promptly made Winslow the highest paid tight end in the National Football League. Those picks are a far cry from the seventh rounder that ESPN said the Bucs gave up, a seventh rounder that could become a sixth if Winslow is all that and a bag of chips.
At the time Dominik went after Winslow, the best questions in everyone's mind was:
What was wrong with Tony Gonazalez?
That's water under the bridge and Winslow's water down the drain.
What we want to do is take a look at the bigger picture as to why Winslow can now take his summer vacations, that would be training camp, out in Seattle.
What you will see this season is a new offense and if you want a hint, we'll simply remind you that Mike Sullivan comes here from the New York Giants. In the New York Giants offense, the tight end is almost an after-thought.
Consider these stats from the 2011 Giants offense:
Victor Cruz caught 82 balls, Hakeem Nicks 76 and Mario Manningham 39. They were the wide receivers. Running backs Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and D.J. Ware combined for another 76 receptions.
Are you sad to see Winslow go?
The tight end? Jake Ballard caught 38, almost half of Winslow's team-leading 75 last season for the Bucs.
Therein was one of the problems for the Buccaneers in 2011. Mike Williams, the No. 1 wide receiver, caught 65 balls, Preston Parker 40. Running back LeGarrette Blount caught 15.
The Giants used a two-back attack for the most part. Bradshaw had 171 carries, Jacobs 152.
Blount can gripe all he wants, he's going to get carries, receptions? That's something he'll have to prove he can do. Otherwise, it's Doug Martin and Michael Smith in the flat.
That 38 number is glaring. It's a pretty safe bet that Winslow simply wasn't going to be a big part of the 2012 offensive game plans. Add in his blocking skills, or lack thereof, and you can begin to understand why he'll be in Seattle this season.
Dallas Clark was signed to take Winslow roster spot. Solid guy, questionable health, will turn 33 soon but he is apparently the type of guy Schiano wants around camp come July.
Right now, the roster is crowded with tight ends and who knows, maybe there really is life in Luke Stocker. He'll be given every opportunity to prove it, it's his time, his opportunity.
In the new offense, it isn't asking much of Luke Stocker to simply become Jake Ballard, is it?
Jake Ballard is 6-6, 275. Luke Stocker is 6-6, 260. Coincidence anyone?
If, in fact, it is Schiano's plan to run the football more, then maybe they'll try and identify a pair of tight ends who can actually block. If the Bucs do become "run-gry" they better have someone who can block.