Bucs Training Camp Preview — Defensive end

BucsBlitz.com's countdown to training camp continues today, with a preview of the Buccaneers' defensive ends. 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: Simeon Rice (starting RE), Greg Spires (starting LE), Gaines Adams, Charles Bennett, Kevin Carter (also listed as a DT), Julian Jenkins (also listed as a DT), Jeremy Pittman.

Rice is coming off an injury-riddled 2006, in which he missed eight games (the most of any season of his career), managed just two sacks and needed season-ending shoulder surgery. He appears to be fine now and should be ready for training camp. He's also in a contract year, so there's motivation for Rice to reclaim his 2005 form, in which he had 14 sacks.

Spires had another productive season on the left side, with 63 tackles and five sacks. He's a nice complement to Rice, as his intelligence and savvy with blocking angles makes him dangerous, even as he turns 33 this August.

Adams, the No. 4 overall selection, should see playing time immediately, but how much isn't certain. His position is right end, and Rice will be the starter. And the Bucs have shown little interest in cross-training Adams at left end yet. But his speed and variety of pass rush moves makes him a player the Bucs cannot completely bench.

Bennett may be on the physically unable to perform list when camp begins. Bennett had one of his knees iced during mini-camp, and while the Bucs haven't said what's wrong, general manager Bruce Allen did say Bennett could be on the PUP at camp. That's usually a prelude to a full season in injured reserve.

Carter's place on the line isn't clear either. He has experience at both end and tackle, and he's trained at both during the offseason. He's a better fit for a 4-3 scheme, though, and wherever the Bucs use him, Carter's superior size (6-foot-6, 305 pounds) and veteran savvy should be an asset. He excels when playing on the move, and that's an asset in the Cover 2.

Jenkins worked out quite a bit at right end during the offseason, so the Bucs feel that's his natural position. But with Rice and Adams already there, is there room for Jenkins to crack the rotation? He's listed as a tackle, as well, but it's unclear if he's robust enough (277 pounds) for that role.

Pittman is an undrafted free agent from Central Arkansas. He isn't very likely to make the final cut, unless he can present himself as an asset on special teams.

Postins' predictions: Rice, Spires, Adams, Carter, Jenkins.

Click here for the next article in the series:

Linebacker


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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