The Buccaneers entered this off-season with the idea of improving their safety play in 2015. The Bucs have brought in both Chris Conte and DJ Swearinger, while shipping Dashon Goldson off to the Redskins.
The Bucs have pieced a group of safeties that provide depth and all of whom are athletic and can tackle. As Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier pointed out on Monday, the Bucs want their safeties to be versatile.
“For our safeties, we like for them to be interchangeable," Frazier said. "We might line up a guy, in certain defenses, at strong or free, but they have to be able to play both. That’s the beauty of our system. Especially with the way our league is now, with teams spreading you out so much with three or four receivers, you don’t want to just have a guy who can only play one position at safety. They will find those mismatches and take advantage of it. We ask our guys to be both strong and free, and play them equally well. We think we have that now with Bradley McDougald along with adding a Chris Conte to the mix. We think Major (Wright) can do it as well. Now we have D.J. (Swearinger), Keith Tandy. We think we have some guys that are able and give us some flexibility on defense to not just be pigeon-holed and the strong or free.”
Bradley McDougald will still need to earn his spot, but one of the starting jobs is his to lose. Before the move to claim DJ Swearinger last week, I would have said the other starting position is Chris Conte's to lose. It might still be, but the addition of Swearinger could add some intrigue to that position battle in training camp and the preseason.
“I think it’s a plus for me to get a new start," Swearinger said on Monday. "A new city, new coaches, new players around me and just to start over again, I think that’s a big key for me and it’s something that I’m looking forward to.”
Swearinger also believes he is versatile enough to excel in the Bucs' defense.
“Most definitely," Swearinger responded when asked if he could play both free and strong safety. "My last few years, I did both in Houston. I see that as something that’s a strength of my game. Coming out of college, I played all over – corner, nickel (back), dime (back), free and strong (safety) – so that’s something that I think was one of my strengths.”
The starting safety jobs will be fun to watch during the preseason. Right now, the Bucs should like the depth they have built on the back end of their defense.Subscribe to The Commish Online Podcast on iTunes!
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