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.