Behind enemy lines — Tampa Bay, Part II

BucsBlitz.com Editor Matthew Postins and PantherInsider.com's Brad Thomas discuss provide analysis for 10 pertinent questions facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is Part 2. Part 1 appeared on Monday.

Q: Coming off a season-ending injury, Simeon Rice should be ready for training camp. Will he play with a chip on his shoulder and return to his pre-injury form?

MP: I think he'll return to form, and that means double-digit sacks. It's the final year of his contract and Rice will want one more big payday. If he's healthy, he'll bring it.

BT: I don't believe so. Rice has had motivation issues in the past, and there is nothing to indicate to me that he's going to be any more motivated this year than in the past.

Q: What's the bigger risk — Barrett Ruud taking over for Shelton Quarles at MLB or Cato June, considered a WLB, winning the job at SLB?

MP: June. Ruud has the size and smarts to be a middle linebacker, plus the Bucs have groomed him for two years. June is trying to learn a new position — one he's not really suited for — and earn a starting job.

BT: June. He's undersized for the position and may get pushed around.

Q: What do you expect first-round pick Gaines Adams to do this season?

MP: I expect him to be a third-down pass rush specialist, an occasional left tackle and to sub for Rice when he needs a spell. It's no knock on Adams, but the guys in front of him are more seasoned, and he needs time to learn the pro game and bulk up. I see a half-dozen sacks for Adams, plus he'll show a lot of promise late in the season and make it easy for the Bucs to not re-sign Simeon Rice.

BT: I think Adams will start every game and have double-digit sacks, and will be in the running for defensive rookie of the year.

Q: Safeties Jermaine Phillips and Will Allen absorbed a lot of criticism last season. Was it justified, and will they keep their jobs this year?

MP: I think some of it was justified. You can point your finger at the lack of a pass rush, but there were plenty of instances in which the pair just blew coverages or tackles (and they weren't the only ones). Still, they'll keep their jobs because the Bucs did nothing — NOTHING — this offseason to acquire players that would push them. Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson are not ready to be starters, and won't be by the regular season.

BT: Sabby Piscitelli will find his way into the starting lineup at some point during the season. He can play either safety position, and I think Gruden won't hesitate to change the lineup if either Phillips or Allen come out of the gates stumbling.

Q: Who should be the opening day punt and kick returner — Mark Jones, Chad Owens, Michael Pittman or someone else?

MP: My money's on Owens. He's small, quick, shifty and has a track record of getting to the end zone (albeit in college). Jones has had plenty of opportunities to be a game breaker and couldn't do it. The Bucs want to use Pittman more in the running game, and that means lessening his exposure on special teams.

BT: My guess would be Pittman, given that he can contribute more to the team than just being a special teams player.

Missed Part 1? Here's the link.


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