Five More: Training Camp Preview

I’m following the format Rick Stroud from the St Pete Times used, but asking five additional questions he did not. Also, check out Roy Cummings’ blog for the latest from Orlando.

6. Will Boston make the roster?

If Boston is going to make the team he will have to beat out Ike Hilliard and Edell Shepherd. Boston’s chances largely hinge on whether Gruden considers him a third or fourth receiver. If it’s the former then Boston is competing against Hilliard’s experience with the Bucs offense. If it’s the latter Boston, who is still recovering from injuries, will be expected to play special teams…and his expose himself to more opportunities to get re-injured.

Prediction: As of right now, I’m leaning towards Boston not making it out of training camp.

7. Who will win the punt return job?

Mark Jones is the favorite but there is a chance rookie cornerback Justin Phinisee could take over punt return duties. Jones stepped into the job last season and performed admirably. Phinisee averaged 11.6 yards last year as the primary punt return man for Oregon, and also racked up a return touchdown.

Prediction: I don’t know but if Phinisee wins out and Jones gets cut then that opens up an additional receiver spot…possibly for Boston or Hilliard.

8. Does Alex Smith move ahead of Anthony Becht on the depth chart?

Smith was on fire right out of the gates with two touchdowns in his first game, but then went without a touchdown for the rest of the season. With the Bucs pass blocking woes last season the tight ends were kept on the line during passing downs to help protect the quarterback. Which meant Becht, the more proven blocker, saw more playing time.

Prediction: Smith, who caught more passes (41 to Becht’s 16), will move ahead of Becht.

9. Who will win the nickel cornerback job?

This is essentially a battle between Juran Bolden and Alan Zemaitis. Bolden held the job last season, while rookie Zemaitis is the future.

Prediction: Bolden holds onto the position for at least another season.

10. Will this training camp see a youth movement in the Bucs defense?

I’ll have more on this subject later in training camp but the Bucs more competitive training camp battles on the defensive side of the ball are between young guys and established veterans. Shelton Quarles vs. Barrett Ruud. Greg Spires vs DeWayne White. Bolden vs. Zemaitis. Kiffin’s defense has lost key players and still played exceptionally well but Kiffin has a new challenge on his hands, breaking in young players and two new defensive coaches.

Prediction: The youth movement won’t come until next season, although we are likely to see some of the younger guys get more playing time as the season progresses.

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