5 Questions Heading into Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp
Tampa Bay has been quiet during the free agency period, with GM Mark Dominik electing to build his team though the draft and by signing free agents of their own.
Though this may have not been the most exciting tactic to Tampa Bay fans, the Buccaneers are looking pretty darn good heading into camp.
Tampa Bay has great talent on the offensive side of the ball, and some good talent scattered with great talent on the defensive side. Despite being the youngest team in the NFL, this could be a special year for the Bay.
5. Can the Defensive Line Gel Quickly?
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The Buccaneers went out and used their first two picks of the 2011 NFL draft on two defensive ends in Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers.
The question is, can Clayborn and Bowers gel with second-year players Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and third-year man Roy Miller?
I think they can.
There is no question that Tampa Bay has one of the more intriguing, young defensive line in the NFL—but they will need to learn how to play as a unit in a hurry.
If all of that talent does gel on the defensive line, Tampa Bay could become a team which opposing quarterback don't want to see.
4. Who Will Start at Right Tackle?
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By the end of training camp, Buccaneer fans should know who their starting right tackle will be.
Either Jerermy Trueblood or James Lee will be the man for the job come Sept. 8.
Tampa Bay just signed Trueblood to a two-year contract, though financial details were not released. With it being a shot contract, it could be backup money, meaning James Lee could be the Week 1 starter.
3. Aqib Talib
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Yes, Mr. Aqib Talib gets a slide all to himself here.
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers electing not to look for any help for the secondary through free agency, they are counting on Aqib Talib.
No one is questioning Talib's talent on the field, but one has to wonder if he can be trusted to stay out of trouble for an entire season.
We will learn in the next week or two whether or not Roger Goodell will hand down a suspension to Talib for his most resent run-in with the law that involved him reportedly shooting at his sister's boyfriend.
For Tampa Bay, if Talib was to miss anytime at all it would kill them in the secondary.
2. Is Arrelious Benn Ready to Roll?
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Arrelious Benn ended his rookie season in the absolute worst way possible—blowing out his knee in the final game of the year.
What should be learned though training camp is whether or not Benn is for sure going to be 100 percent heading into Week 1 for Tampa Bay.
The fact that Benn is even on the field at camp right now running routes for Tampa Bay, and apparently looking great in doing so, is a true testament to his toughness.
The Buccaneers will need Benn to step up in his second season and be more of an impact player for Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay offense, hopefully, at the very, least doubling his roughly 400 receiving yards from last season.
1. Who Will Fill the Void Left by Barrett Rudd?
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With Mark Dominik electing not to re-sign middle linebacker Barrett Rudd, that means that Tampa Bay will start either Mason Foster or Tyrone McKenzie at the middle linebacker spot.
Rookie Mason Foster was Tampa Bay's third-round pick out of Washington. Foster accumulated over 160 tackles as a senior at the University of Washington on his way to being named a First Team All-American. Mason is a quick, athletic tight end at 6'1'' and 245 pounds who boasts a 4.6 40.
Tyrone McKenzie, also a former third rounder, will be entering his second year in the league. McKenzie recorded five tackles in three games played last season for the Buccaneers. Tyrone McKenzie is similar in size to Mason Foster at 6'2'' and 245 pounds, and both bring the same kind of elite athleticism to the middle linebacker position.
This is a tough position battle to wage on, but I am leaning towards Mason Foster as their pick as the Bucs have more money invested in him.