Bucs Training Camp Preview — Tight End

BucsBlitz.com's countdown to training camp continues with a preview of the Buccaneers' tight ends. Each day BucsBlitz.com will break down a different position leading up to reporting day in Orlando on July 26.

TIGHT ENDS: Anthony Becht (starter), Alex Smith, Jerramy Stevens, Matt Herian, Keith Heinrich, T.J. Williams.

Becht is the starter in name only, as Jon Gruden likes to rotate his tight ends and use a lot of two tight-end sets for maximum protection. The latter formation has really been used too much the past two years, because the offensive line has shown an inability to protect the quarterback on its own.

Becht is not a dangerous pass catcher, but he is a proficient blocker and his size (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) makes him a viable target in the red zone. He's done a good job of fitting into the offensive system and grooming Smith.

Smith is the player the Buccaneers consider their future star at the position, and Smith has shown plenty of promise, though most of it has been in spurts. He's a better pass catcher than Becht. His size (6-4, 258), his hands and lean build make him an inviting target on intermediate routes. That's why the Bucs believe he's capable of catching 50 passes a season. But his blocking skills still aren't there just yet, which is why Becht takes his place often.

Stevens is an enigmatic player. Loaded with talent (6-7, 260), this former first-round pick has never fulfilled it, even in Mike Holmgren's tight-end friendly offense in Seattle. He finally wore out his welcome in the Pacific Northwest with his mouth, his suspect hands and off-the-field actions. He's in Tampa Bay to resurrect his career. Stevens could play his way into a big role if he proves his hands are reliable and he won't be a distraction. Teams would have fits with a formation that features both Smith and Stevens.

Herian, Heinrich and Williams had better hope one of those three players gets hurt or suddenly forgets how to play football. Williams missed all of last season with an injury. But unless someone falls in front of them, or they prove to be great special teams performers, all three will be looking for work in September.

Postins' prediction: Smith, Becht, Stevens.

Click here to see the next story in the series:

Offensive Line

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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