With Buccaneer camp set to begin today (with the first practice scheduled for tomorrow) it is that magical time of year when every team is competitive and the Super Bowl appears to be within arms reach. Today I will identify the training camp position battles to watch, but before we get to the meat I present an appetizer to wet your palate.
The following is an ESPN commercial (probably the only thing the WWL does well anymore) featuring two of the greatest Bucs runningbacks of all time, Warrick Dunn and "Touchdown Vulture" Mike Alstott...
(HT: Awful Announcing)
Personally, I love the part at the end where the A-Train tells Dunn to just "let it go". Here's hoping the commercial doesn't put the jinx on Alstott the same way the Chris Simms fantasy football commercial did last year. Anyway, on to the training camp battles.....
Right Defensive End: Simeon Rice vs. Gaines Adams
The right defensive end is the pass rush specialist on the line as opposed to the left defensive end who's responsibility is more to shore up the d-line against the rush. Which is the only reason it makes sense to have the two most talented defensive ends compete for one starting position. Although it will likely not be a very competitive battle since Adams and the Bucs have not come to agreement on a new contract which means the rookie is likely to report to camp late, giving entrenched starter Rice even more of an advantage.
2nd Receiver: Michael Clayton vs. Maurice Stovall
Joey Galloway has a stranglehold on the top receiver spot but the most interesting position battle of training camp will be between Clayton and Stovall. One time Golden Boy Clayton has seen his level of play slip considerably while Stovall turned in a solid rookie season. But as good as Stovall looks to be I am hesistant to pick against Clayton, who is still one of the better blockers at the receiver position.
Under Tackle: Kevin Carter vs. Julian Jenkins vs. Jovan Haye vs. Greg Peterson
The under tackle is the pass rushing defensive tackle position made famous by Warren Sapp, and then made infamous by Booger McFarland. This is the one position battle I have the worst read on since there are so many relative unknowns and newcomers competing for the position. We're likely to see a rotation of guys but I'll tab Kevin Carter as the favorite even though he has traditionally played defensive end.
Left Guard: Matt Buenning vs. Anthony Davis vs. Arron Sears
Buenning was the starter at this position last year but is injured going into training camp and could be moved to center to compete with John Wade. Sears has still not signed a rookie contract and will likely report a few days late. Which really just leaves Davis, last year's starter at left tackle, as the remaining competitor for the left guard position.
3rd Cornerback: Torrie Cox vs. Phillip Buchanon
Brian Kelly's injury last season gave both these corners extended playing time. While Cox has been solid and reliable Buchannon showed the flashes of brilliance which made him a first round pick of the Raiders. The Bucs starting corners, Kelly and Ronde Barber, have been two of the best in the league and with Phillip Buchanon starting at the nickelback spot the Bucs will have some of the best cornerback depth in the NFL.
For those who have not noticed yet, much like a grizzly bear slowly awakening from hibernation, I have increased the frequency of my posting as training camp nears. What's that mean for you? More updates on training camp, more posting both here and at the Sticks, and more Bucs goodness. There have a been a few contenders and pretenders for the title of Best Bucs Blog which have popped up during my hibernation, and much like Warren Sapp in his prime I plan on picking up and slamming all other Bucs blogs to the ground.