Tight Till The End

The Bucs acquired three tight ends during the off-season to generate competition at the position. Ken Dilger is number one on the depth at the moment, but with a week left in camp and four pre-season games to go it is anyone's spot.

Last year the Bucs' tight ends were hit hard by injuries. By week two then rookie Will Heller was sharing the playing time with the since departed Todd Yoder. That experience is helping Heller in this year's camp because he is the most experienced second year player on the roster.

Rickey Dudley has looked sluggish at times, but has improved his blocking as his career has progressed. He creates a defensive mismatch with his 6-6, 255 pound frame and soft hands. The problem is Dudley seems to make the catches in traffic and drop the ball when he is open. Inconsistency is one of Jon Gruden's pet peeves so Dudley seems to be on the bubble.

The newest tight ends in the mix, Nate Lawrie and Doug Zeigler, have been hustling on every play in practice. Unfortunately, it does not look like that will be enough to get them on the team. Zeigler was getting a lot of reps early on in camp, but dropped passes have since limited his opportunities.

Dave Moore is in his second stint with the Buccaneers, and has made himself uncuttable by showing up to camp as the team's best long snapper. He has not muffed a snap yet, and camp is more than half way over. He recently gave up his number 81 to Tim Brown to take Edell Shepherd's 86. Shepherd took three to complete the shuffle.

Four tight ends are too many so Dudley and Heller are on thin ice. Heller's special teams contributions might not be enough to bump the offensive Dudley off the roster, but it should be. Without Heller the Bucs will have a spot to fill on nearly every special teams unit.

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