Bucs Training Camp Preview — Defensive tackle

BucsBlitz.com's countdown to training camp begins today, with a preview of the Buccaneers' special teams. Each day BucsBlitz.com will break down a different position — including expert Matthew Postins' roster predictions — leading up to reporting day in Orlando on July 26.

DEFENSIVE ENDS: Kevin Carter (projected starting under tackle), Chris Hovan (starting DT), Darrell Campbell, Justin Frick, Jovan Haye, Julian Jenkins (also listed as a DE), Greg Peterson, Ryan Sims.

Hovan will start at right defensive tackle, a position he's owned since he arrived in Tampa in 2005. Hovan made 78 tackles and two sacks a year ago, but plugging up the opponent's running game is really his primary responsibility.

Carter will likely be No. 1 on the training camp depth chart at under tackle. He's played both outside and inside in his NFL career, and has been able to get pressure on the quarterback from either position. He's also considered a solid run-stopper, a key part of that position.

Campbell was signed to the practice squad late last year and was inactive for the final regular-season game. The Notre Dame product boasts pretty good size (6-foot-4, 295 pounds), and this will be his first Buccaneers camp.

The Bucs signed Frick (6-3, 295) as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State. He was one of the best defensive tackles in Division I-AA last year, but he'll probably spend most of camp adjusting to the pro game. He earned plenty of good reviews from scouts, though, and he's a likely practice squad candidate.

Haye may have been the defensive star of mini-camp. While smaller (6-2, 285) than most of the tackles on the roster, he's quickly proving he has the power and speed to play the position. After making 25 tackles in nine games last year as a backup, Haye is a legitimate contender to start at under tackle in 2007.

Jenkins' size (277 pounds) would seem to make him ill-fitted for a role inside. He'll probably spend most of camp on the outside.

Peterson was the Buccaneers' fifth-round pick. At 6-5, 286 pounds, he's making the transition from Division II defensive end to NFL defensive tackle. Considered a long-term prospect at under tackle, Peterson may start the season on the practice squad.

Sims is a sixth-year veteran trying to reclaim his reputation after five average seasons in Kansas City. The former No. 6 overall pick is considered a candidate to be Hovan's backup — if he can get his weight back in line and show off the quickness that made him a top draft choice in the first place.

Postins' predictions: Carter, Hovan, Haye, Sims; Peterson, practice squad.

Click here to see the next story in the series: Defensive end

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Included among his more than two dozen writing and editing awards are national awards from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors, and state awards from the Florida Press Club and the Florida Sports Writers Association, for his coverage of the Buccaneers since 2004.

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