Colmer Could Be Anchor For Buccaneers

Struggling offensive line gets boost from third-round draft pick

By Jeff Berlinicke

How many times last season was Jon Gruden ready to suffer a facial explosion at the latest lapse by a Buccaneers offensive lineman?

All year, the Bucs' offensive line proved incapable of memorizing the snap count or preventing the defensive line from getting into the backfield without drawing a yellow flag. It got so bad that last year's brand new offensive line was marked a failure before the halfway mark of a 5-11 season.

So for the third straight season, the Bucs will go into summer camp with a different line. The ancient free agent policy of last year is gone, so it's up to newcomers such as Chris Colmer and Dan Buenning to set the pace to go with center John Wade and whoever else survives Camp Gruden.

Colmer is intriguing. At 6-5, 310, Colmer is big enough yet surprisingly quick enough to pass and run block and was lined up at the key left tackle position during last week's mini-camp. Left tackle is assigned to the player best able to watch a quarterback's back and Colmer said he wants that responsibility.

He comes with a risk. After his junior season at North Carolina State, Colmer suffered shoulder pains. Doctors weren't able to determine the cause, but Colmer could barely sleep through the pain. He was finally diagnosed with Parsonage-Tuner Syndrome, a rare virus with no known cause.

During Colmer's senior season, he was ready to give up on the NFL, but he was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA for the 2004 season. Still, problems were in the way. He suffered a torn muscle in his left shoulder and went under the knife at the end of the season. It wasn't his performance that knocked him down into the third round where the Bucs finally selected him in the draft; it was the question marks regarding his shoulders.

In mini-camp, Colmer impressed everyone with his power and speed. Gruden has always been impressed by power and a healthy Colmer will provide that and more. Healthy, Colmer is a steal at the third round.

No one questions his heart. It's his shoulder that will determine whether or not he's a staple of the Bucs line for the next eight years.

Bucs Blitz Top Stories