Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What to Watch for at OTAs

Caleb AbnerContributor IIIMay 21, 2013

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What to Watch for at OTAs

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin their OTAs with a crop of new talent that many believe can bring the team to the playoffs after a long drought.

    Among the new additions are All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, second-round draft pick Johnthan Banks, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and safety Dashon Goldson.

    Fans will watch these OTAs for a sneak peek of how the team will shape up come September.

    This slideshow highlights eight things people should pay special attention to at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers OTAs.

Mike Glennon Versus Josh Freeman

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    These upcoming OTAs will mark the first time that fans can see third-round draft pick Mike Glennon and incumbent starter Josh Freeman take snaps on the same field.

    Though it seems unlikely that the rookie has a real chance at winning any "QB competition," coach Greg Schiano believes that Glennon "can play quickly" if needed, which basically translates to, "If Freeman doesn't perform, his butt will be kissing bench before his last throw kisses turf."

    Both quarterbacks are notable for their big arms, size and accuracy that leaves much to be desired.

    Freeman will most likely start in September, but it'll be interesting to see if Glennon at least pushes him for his job.

Who Starts at DT (Opposite Gerald McCoy)

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    Barring injury, there's no way Gerald McCoy will not start at DT. In the first 16-game season of his young career, McCoy emerged as one of the league's premier defensive tackles, able to rush the passer and stuff the run with ease. He's the kind of blue-chip player who makes the guys around him significantly better.

    With that said, we don't know who will play opposite McCoy at the 1-technique.

    It could be free-agent addition Derek Landri, who started 16 game with the Eagles last season.

    It could be Rutgers alum Gary Gibson, who recorded 14 tackles in 2012 playing in the D-line rotation.

    Or it could be fourth-rounder Akeem Spence, the rookie from Illinois. He's got a solid chance, due to his versatility and strength.

    At this point, we just don't know who the other starting DT will be.

    But it'll be plenty of fun finding out.

How the Late-Round Rookies Perform

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    The Bucs made four Day 3 selections in the 2013 draft. The team picked up Akeem Spence, defensive end William Gholston, defensive end Steven Means and running back Mike James.

    It's not hard to figure out that the front office was trying to add some depth on the defensive line.

    Though the apparent starters at defensive end are third-year men Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, neither has their position firmly cemented. Who their backups will be gets a question mark as well. It wouldn't be that much of a shock for Gholston or Means to get significant playing time as part of the rotation.

    Mike James, the sixth-round pick out of Miami, could get plenty of snaps as well on third down. His receiving skills are strong enough that he could spell Doug Martin on third-and-longs.

    Of course, there are no guarantees that any of these guys will be on the field at all during the regular season.

    With good showings at the OTAs, though, the rookies can make names for themselves and get on the coaches' radars.

Eric Wright Versus Johnthan Banks

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    Tampa didn't trade the 13th pick in the 2013 draft and a mid-round selection in 2014 so that Darrelle Revis could ride the bench. No, Revis is starting at cornerback this season for the Bucs, whether he's an All-Pro or just decent.

    We don't know who will sit at No. 2 cornerback.

    Eric Wright held it last year as Aqib Talib was the No. 1 corner, but Wright's on-field play did not come close to reaching the high expectations the club had for him when they signed him as a free agent in March 2012.

    Johnthan Banks was the Bucs' first pick in the 2013 draft, a second-rounder out of Mississippi State. His physical style of play lines up well with how Greg Schiano likes his cornerbacks.

    One idea is that Wright could start as No. 2, then move to the slot in nickel packages, while Banks would replace him on the outside.

    Another is that Wright will play slot corner only, and Banks will start as the No. 2 corner.

    Whatever the case, it'll be interesting to see how things shake up at OTAs.

Will Anyone 'Run' Away with the Third-Down Running Back Job?

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    We've mentioned before how rookie Mike James has a chance to be the Bucs' third-down running back, the guy who comes in on passing downs to give Doug Martin a rest and bring some receiving skills to the table. 

    We did not mention who James will compete against.

    In addition to Martin and James, the Bucs also have running backs Brian Leonard, Michael Smith and Jeff Demps under contract.

    Demps, a track star acquired in April from a trade with the Patriots (if you were wondering, that's why LeGarrette Blount isn't on the team anymore), and Smith, entering his second season, are both burners with some serious legs. Demps can run a 40-yard dash in a blazing-fast 4.26 seconds, while Smith's 40-time of 4.36 isn't too shabby either.

    Leonard, added as a free agent, is less of a speedster and more of a power back, a guy who can also fill in at fullback, if necessary. You have to wonder if he was signed to possibly replace Erik Lorig, last year's starting fullback.

    Mike James seems to have the best shot at securing the third-down running back job, but someone else could always rise to the occasion.  

Who in the World Will Be Starting at Tight End?

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    The current list of tight ends on the Bucccaneers roster (in alphabetical order):

    Byham, Nate

    Crabtree, Tom

    Landi, Evan

    Miller, Zach

    Noble, Danny

    Stocker, Luke

    Between the six, we have a total of 46 NFL game started, less than three seasons worth. Considering that these 46 starts are spread among six players, Tampa's tight end situation looks increasingly dire.

    Luke Stocker has the most starting experience, having 20 starts in his two years in the league. Conventional wisdom might say that he'll start in 2013, but then you look at his 28 career receptions and, all of a sudden, he doesn't seem like a guy you want starting for your team.

    Free agent additions Tom Crabtree, a former Packer, and Zach Miller, a former Jaguar, are Stocker's two most direct challenges. Crabtree, however, has averaged six receptions a year over three years, and Miller played only four games in 2011 before spending all of 2012 on injured reserve.

    Deeper into the depth chart, we find sophomore Danny Noble, UDFA Evan Landi and third-year man Nate Byham. Of the three, Byham has the most experience, with 25 games under his belt. It should be noted that Noble flashed talent during last year's offseason before winding up on injured reserve, and Landi did well during the rookie minicamps.

    So, to sum it all all up, we have no actual idea who will start at tight end for the Bucs.

    These OTAs will be all about narrowing down the possible contenders.

Who Takes Snaps at Strongside Linebacker

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    Another roster mystery the Bucs have is at strongside linebacker, as in the one who lines up on the strong side of the formation, as in the outside linebacker who isn't Lavonte David.

    Tampa used to have Quincy Black filling that role, but after a season-ending injury, the team released him during the offseason. 

    Common sense directs us to believe it'll be Adam Hayward, Black's 2012 replacement, who will start on the strong side in 2013. 

    Don't count out free-agent pickup Jonathan Casillas, though. He showed potential when he was on the Saints.

If Darrelle Revis Shows Up

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    Darrelle Revis will not participate in the team's OTAs. He'll still be rehabbing from last year's season-ending injury.

    Maybe he'll show up, though, to be with his teammates and continue to discuss the playbook with the coaching staff.

    While nobody's opinion of him would be lowered by his absence, seeing Revis at OTAs would be a pleasant surprise that would mean a lot to spectators and fans.