Weekend Reading

The Buccaneers’ signing of an undrafted free agent earlier this week got unexpectedly wide attention on the web, mainly because folks were intrigued by RB Matt Brown’s story.  Brown was only available to sign with the Bucs on Wednesday because, the day before, he had failed in his attempt to fly to Saskatchewan and sign with the CFL’s Roughriders because of an expired passport.

But you know that story already.  As we head into the weekend separating the second week of OTAs at One Buccaneer Place from their third, here’s some Buc-related reading material that we’ve gathered together for your enjoyment: Continue reading

Temple’s Matt Brown Gets Shot at NFL with Bucs

Matt Brown may be able to thank a passport snafu for his first crack at the National Football League.

As told by Philly.com, the former Temple running back was scheduled to fly to Saskatchewan on Tuesday to sign with the Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, but a problem with his passport kept him off the plane.  That in turn delayed his official signing and meant he was still available to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they called Wednesday morning.  He was on a plane to Tampa hours later, returning to the spot where he had participated in a rookie mini-camp on a tryout contract a few weeks earlier. Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Which Buc makes “The Leap” this year?

Last season, Gerald McCoy played in 16 games for the first time in his three-year NFL career, racked up five sacks, 16 quarterback pressures and nine tackles for loss and became the first Buccaneer defensive tackle to make the Pro Bowl since Warren Sapp.

Gerald McCoy made “The Leap” in 2012.  Now, it’s true that it was mostly freak injuries that had held McCoy back from his potential during the first two NFL seasons, following the Bucs’ selection of him third overall in 2010.  Still, whatever the circumstances, the 2012 season will be remembered as the one in which McCoy transformed his career and became a much more important player for the Buccaneers.

McCoy was probably the only player that fell into that category for Tampa Bay last year, at least among those who were already on the Bucs’ roster the year before.  Doug Martin and Lavonte David put up huge numbers but were rookies; they simply established their NFL bona fides right away.  Vincent Jackson had put up big numbers for years in San Diego.  Josh Freeman set the Bucs’ single-season records for passing yards and touchdown tosses, but you could argue that 2010 was still a better season for him.  Players such as Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah, Michael Bennett, Roy Miller, Mason Foster and Ronde Barber obviously had strong seasons, but were essentially playing up to their already established standards.  Adrian Clayborn didn’t get the chance after a promising 7.5-sack season; he got hurt instead.

Hopefully, there will be more than one Buccaneer who will make “The Leap” in 2013…but for today’s exercise I’m only going to ask you to name one, Andrew.  That’s this week’s debate: Which player who was on the Bucs’ 2012 roster and is still with the team in 2013 is poised to take his career to another level?  Continue reading

Early Fantasy Rankings for Bucs’ Stars

The lead in to fantasy football drafts, most of which are held in mid to late-August, is nearly as extensive as that for the real NFL Draft.  In both cases, countless mock drafts are performed and perceived player rankings are constantly tweaked.  Fantasy draft boards, however, are a bit more stable over the last few months leading up to selection time, because there is less going on that changes a player’s value.  Barring injury, fantasy football analysts are going to perceive the likes of Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Doug Martin about the same in late May as they do in early August.

Thus, it’s instructive to see where some of the Buccaneers’ potential offensive stars are landing in the player rankings that are starting to populate the web.  In general, you’ll find three Tampa Bay players among the top 100 rankings: RB Doug Martin and WRs Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.  The chart below shows where each of those three is ranked across 11 different expert lists: Continue reading

Powerful Jackson-Martin Duo Places in NFL Top 100

Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin made a powerful one-two punch in 2012, each of them in their first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Jackson, the prized free agent signee from San Diego, led the NFL with 19.2 yards per catch and nearly set a franchise single-season record with 1,384 receiving yards.  Martin, the rookie first-round running back out of Boise State, ran for 1,454 yards, second-best in team annals, and nearly became the third rookie ever to get 2,000 combined yards.

It’s fitting, then, that both Jackson and Martin were revealed to be among the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2013 on Thursday night, separated in the rankings by only five spots.  The Network unveiled the #51-60 segment this week, and Jackson came in at 52, just ahead of Martin at 57.

Jackson and Martin are the fourth and fifth Buccaneers to place among the first 50 players revealed.  Safety Dashon Goldson came in at #96, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy at #92 and cornerback Darrelle Revis at #67.  That’s an indication of how aggressively the Buccaneers have pursued the league’s top talents in the last 14 months – Jackson, Martin, Goldson and Revis have all joined Tampa Bay’s roster since March of 2012.

The NFL Network’s Top 100 list, which is now in its third edition after debuting during the 2011 offseason, is compiled using the votes of NFL players themselves.  The first 10-man segment was broadcast on the evening of the final day of the 2013 draft, followed by a new group of 10 unveiled each Thursday evening.  Fans can check out the list and watch highlight videos for each player here on NFL.com.  Fans can also vote on whether each player is underrated or overrated, and create their own NFL Top 10 list as the whole 100 is unveiled.

Receiver Swap Gives Crump an Opportunity

Terriun Crump came to the Buccaneers’ rookie mini-camp three weeks ago on a tryout contract, and left without anything more permanent.  Whether he knew it or not, however, he had done enough to keep himself on the Bucs’ radar.

That paid off on Wednesday when the team decided to tweak the receiver position on its 90-man offseason roster, and Crump got a phone call.  With the Bucs choosing to waive Mount Union rookie Chris Denton, who had found a contract waiting for him after the rookie camp, it was the former Western Illinois player who got another shot at the NFL. Continue reading

Immediate Impact: Which Buccaneer Draft Classes Have Had the Most Combined Rookie Success?

All six players the Buccaneers drafted last month hope to step right into significant roles as rookies, and there’s plenty of reason to believe they can do so.  Second-round cornerback Johnthan Banks and fourth-round defensive tackle Akeem Spence, in fact, might have the inside track at a pair of open starting spots on Tampa Bay’s defense.

However, that group – which also includes third-round quarterback Mike Glennon, fourth-round defensive end William Gholston, fifth-round defensive end Steven Means and sixth-round running back Mike James – will have a tough time matching the rookie-season impact that the Buccaneers’ 2012 draft class made.  Led by safety Mark Barron, running back Doug Martin and linebacker Lavonte David, who combined to make the maximum 48 starts, the 2012 class produced 1,454 rushing yards, 49 receptions, three kickoff returns for 55 yards, 12 touchdowns, 228 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, 15 passes defensed, one forced fumble and three stops on special teams.

Was it the most immediately impactful draft class in the Buccaneers’ nearly four decades of drafting?  It would certainly be in the discussion.  Let’s take a look at some of the other candidate classes. Continue reading

Bucs Being Cautious, But Clayborn is Right on Track

A knee injury last September took away 81% of Adrian Clayborn’s second NFL season, but it gave something in return: Time.

Clayborn, who suffered his season-ending ACL tear in the third game of the 2012 season, at Dallas, would have rather used the next three months to chase quarterbacks and build on his very promising 7.5-sack rookie season.  When that wasn’t an option, he did the next best thing with his sudden wealth of free time – he built himself into a more formidable player. Continue reading

Revis’ Progress Chronicled on NFL Network

The Buccaneers currently have 89 players on their offseason roster, including RB/KR Jeff Demps, whose status hasn’t been fully clarified since the team acquired his rights from New England in a draft-weekend trade.  Of the other 88 players, not one was missing when the Buccaneers gathered for the first of their 10 allotted OTA practices on Monday.

That’s impressive, of course, but not entirely unexpected.  The OTAs are voluntary but usually draw most of the roster, at least in Tampa.  The most recent collective bargaining agreement reduced the amount of time a team can practice during the offseason, so most players want to make use of all the field work they can get.

Of those 88 players on hand at One Buccaneer Place on Monday, 85 were in practice gear and on the field for the full 100-minute session.  Starting offensive guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks spent that time with the team’s trainers as they near the final stages of their recoveries from knee and toe injuries, respectively.  And Darrelle Revis, the prized cornerback for which the Buccaneers traded their first-round pick a month ago, split his practice time between mental reps on the sideline and rehab work on his knee with the medical staff.

The Bucs have expressed confidence that Revis will be on the field for opening day this September – coincidentally in New York against his former team, the Jets.  To get there, they have to help him finish his recovery from last September’s injury and they have to get him comfortable in Tampa Bay’s defense.  Thus, the splitting of time between observing and rehabbing during OTA practices. Continue reading

Spence Gets Quick Lesson in Tempo

The very first full-speed, full-team practice snap that Akeem Spence took as an NFL player ended in a little “extracurricular activity,” as they say, a brief after-the-whistle skirmish with veteran teammate Jeremy Zuttah.

That might seem like either bad luck or bad anger management on the rookie’s part, but in reality the first snap was where this breakout was most likely to occur.  The disagreement was over proper tempo in the trenches, where “practice etiquette” is most important, and Spence learned an immediate but important lesson on behalf of all the team’s rookies. Continue reading