2008 Bucs' Schedule: PNG

Monday, July 31, 2006

First Weekend Of Practice

The Bucs have now finished their first full weekend of practice during camp. So far the results have been pretty good, though, just today, DL Charles Bennett injured his hamstring and will be out for at least a couple of weeks. I've been taking in the plethora of information on what's going on in camp and have a general synopsis on where this team is. One of the best sources for camp insider info is the Pewter Report, and if you wish to get a blow by blow analysis, that's the place to go.

My thoughts, however, are concerned with last year's trouble areas, and this year's question marks. First and foremost is whether or not Simms has what it takes to take this team to the next level? Having watched many QB's go through this organization, the little details have slowly come to the surface in what I look for in a franchise QB: intangibles, accuracy, making the reads, arm strength. I think this is what the good to great QB's all have to some degree. So far Simms has shown the intangibles (such as bringing the team back in the 4th quarter), and the arm strength. Now he seems to be showing the accuracy and the ability to make the right reads. So far Simms' performance through the off-season and early through camp, appear to point to a QB that's developing the entire package. I look for him to have a break-out year, and for the Bucs to lock him up long term.

The next area of concern was the receiving corps. Well, so far it looks like Galloway is ready to do even better than last year; Clayton looks to be back in form, making tremendous catches, not dropping the ball that much, and getting separation; Hilliard appears to be showing up strong; Boston looks like he's returning to Pro-Bowl form; and Stovall is showing some good things, though he's still making some mistakes, which you expect. To be honest, the receiving corps is looking like it could be seriously dangerous this year. If these guys stay healthy, and keep coming on strong, then all Simms will need is some time to kill defenses with this group.

Then there's the offensive line. Needless to say, if this offense is going to take advantage of it's now very, very talented set of skill players, the line must open holes in the running game, and protect Simms when passing. From what I hear, Davis has apparently worked heavily on his quickness and getting off the ball quicker, and it appears to be helping. Fonoti is really pushing Buenning, which means a lot of good things for the Left Guard spot. Mahan is getting a lot of reps at Center and appears to be pushing Wade. Terry is looking really good, like he did last camp before getting injured, while Joseph is coming up to speed. Trueblood is showing flashes, but Walker is still the starter. Of all the positions on the line, the Right Tackle is the only one I am currently concerned with. If one of the two steps up and makes something happen out there, then the Bucs will finally have some balance, running lane wise, and be able to really hold up when passing. Terry was going to win the Right Guard spot last year, and was clearly stronger in their, but his injury forced the Bucs to go to Mahan, who did OK against the pass, but wasn't very effective in the running game. Now with Joseph there as well, one of these guys is going to get it done. I expect a lot of holes for Caddy to run through this year.

The only other areas I had any real concern with were with the defensive pass rush, and with special teams returns. It's a little hard to tell where these guys stand right now. We'll definitely get a better look come August 11. Until then, these areas are still question marks. One thing is for certain, however, this offense will be better than last year, even if the line play is unimproved. If the line play can improve noticeably, this offense has the potential to be explosive, which could lead to some interesting games. For now, I'll just keep paying attention and formulating my opinions on what I see, read, and hear.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Stovall Signs

Last night, not long after Joseph agreed to terms, Stovall got on-board as well. With his signing, the Bucs will have all of their draft picks at camp, save T.J. Williams (injured). That's always a good sign. The Bucs will take to the field this morning for their first training camp practice, which gets me going! Preseason in just 2 weeks!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Joseph Agrees To Terms; Trueblood Signed

OT Jeremy Trueblood kicked off today's mad rush too signing, by getting inked to a multi-year contract in time to get on the rookie bus and report in at Celebration at the prescribed time.

OG Davin Joseph, according to this Tribune report by Cummings, has apparently agreed to terms and will be in camp on time. That leaves Stovall and Williams, though Williams isn't a need sign right now due to his injury status. From what I've read, it appears Stovall's sticking point is the number of years. Bruce Allen doesn't usually budge on the years of the contract, so if Maurice thinks he'll get his way, he needs to rethink his position.

In any case, the key draft picks look to be ready to go with the first snap tomorrow, which is always a good thing for rookies in the NFL.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bucs Sign CB Zemaitis

The Bucs continued to sign their rookies by inking their fourth round corner Alan Zemaitis. With the Bucs having released an extra player yesterday, they did not have to release anyone else today. This leaves Joseph, Trueblood, Stovall, and Williams to be signed from the 2006 class. The Bucs report to Celebration Hotel tomorrow afternoon, so the heat will be on tonight, and the Bucs will likely get at least one more guy signed before the evening is over. The Bucs will have to release players to sign the rest of their rookies, though T.J. Williams signing will be interesting as he's currently injured.

The real fun begins Friday as the Bucs start the day off with their first official practice of the season, as the team gears up for it's first game against the Jets, here at Ray Jay on Friday the 11th of August, just 16 days from now.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ronde On Verge Of Extending Contract?

According to this report from the Tribune, Ronde Barber seems to be close to extending his contract. The report alludes to both sides making some concessions to close the gap. If this deal gets done, it will be a good thing, so long as Barber's yearly salary average doesn't go up too much. After all, if Brooks can take a pay cut down to $4 million a year, on average, why should Barber get much more? The Bucs have to be careful of how they do things, and need to be ready to placate Kelley, who may be prepared to sit out if he feels he's not being treated in a similar fashion to Barber. At some point the Bucs are going to have to move in younger talent like Zemaitis, as they can't keep spending 3/4ths of their cap on the defense. As the Bucs get more talent on the other side of the ball, the cap most start to balance, and the Bucs will need to be picky about who stays and who goes.

I think most of us would like to see Barber finish his career here. I know I would. But it needs to be done without breaking the back, or causing a rift on the team. Anything else would be unsatisfactory.

Things Are Heating Up!

Just when things seemed to be a little dull, the Bucs start making a ton of noise as the signings begin to come in droves. The Bucs have inked Bruce Gradkowski, their 6th round QB selection, then followed up by signing DL Charles Bennett, one of their 7th round picks, and then re-inked Earnest Graham, who was an exclusive rights free agent. The Bucs had to cut some players to make room for their signings. They released FB Robert Johnson, Tackle Todd Williams, and, notably, WR Larry Brackins. They also failed in their bid to sign Dwight Smith, who inked a deal with the Vikings.

The only real surprise to me was the cutting of Brackins. He did have a tough time picking up the play book, but his skills seemed to warrant further work. It's tough for a JC guy to come right into the NFL. Of course, the Bucs may pick him up for the practice squad and continue to work on his skills. Nevertheless, the Bucs have some pretty impressive depth at receiver now, and it would have been tough for him to earn a roster spot. The other cuts weren't surprising, as they were players on the bottom of some deep positions.

I can't say that I am all to upset at the Bucs missing out on Smith. He repeatedly was a distraction off the field, and I don't really think this team needs that kind of distraction now. The Bucs have gotten deeper at corner, and were really only looking at him to play safety. I think the Bucs will be fine, so long as they aren't besieged with injuries at the two safety positions.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Draft Picks Beginning To Sign

Well, it's been a little quite on the Bucs front, but things appear to be picking up quite quickly. The Bucs have, in the last 3 days, signed 3 of their draft picks. The first to sign was the 7th round Tight End Tim Massaquoi. That was followed up by the signings of 5th round defensive linemen Julian Jenkins and 7th round corner Justin Phinisee.

The Bucs are reportedly close to signing Zemaitis and Joseph. The Bucs report on the 27th and begin practicing on the 28th, so time is running out. Hopefully Allen will get all 10 draft picks signed before practices start. He's managed it so far, though Caddy was just under the wire last year. Can't you just feel the season now?