ThePewterPirate: How does the offense look?
Matthew Postins: Hard to tell after three days of camp. But I think they're farther along. Having four QBs that really know the offense helps move things along. Caddy (Cadillac Williams) looks like he's 100 percent. He's cutting well, showing good explosion in 11-on-11 drills and I actually think he'll be a bigger factor in the passing game. He's seeing a lot of reps.
ThePewterPirate: Hmm. (Jon) Gruden likes those catching backs
iDRIVEaCADDY: Does he (Gruden) still have him catching punts for practice
MP: Caddy? No. They've pretty much abandoned that, I think. They have more than enough guys cluttering that competition, Caddy would just take reps away from others that need it.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Is (Chris) Simms still throwing funny?
MP: I see flashes of the problems he had last month, but they're rare. He's closer to his 2005 form than last year or even last month. The fundamentals are back in place, and he's got zip on the ball. Watching him and (Bruce) Gradkowski go at it in preseason will be a fun battle.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Who is taking first team reps at the other DE spot?
MP: Patrick Chukwurah is at RDE, Greg Spires is at LDE. (Gaines) Adams and Kevin Carter are second team, from right to left. But they're rotating liberally, and Spires has already had two workouts off.
ThePewterPirate: Is there a noticeable improvement in Gradkowski over last year?
MP: I think it's marginal right now. He's throwing fine, but I want to see how he reads coverages in the preseason games. That's where you can tell if a QB's done his homework in the offseason.
ThePewterPirate: He looked great last preseason.
MP: That's why he ended up second string. But there are four good quarterbacks in camp, and someone with a lot of talent is going home unhappy come early September.
ThePewterPirate: Who are the starting WRs so far?
MP: (Joey) Galloway and (Maurice) Stovall seem to be getting the most first-team reps. Today (David) Boston slipped in there with Galloway gone. (Michael) Clayton's seeing plenty of time, too. There's plenty of rotation, too.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Side note (Luke) McCown is really ugly.
MP: Maybe, but he's got a big arm. Hit Boston for a 65-yarder yesterday.
ThePewterPirate: Who has impressed you most so far?
MP: Boston, Jovan Haye, McCown, Carter and (Davin) Joseph. They've all looked very good the first three days of camp. Haye and McCown, especially. Joseph's going to be a Pro Bowl candidate this year, in my opinion.
ThePewterPirate: Really? I can't picture a Bucs O-lineman getting good recognition. It's strange.
MP: I realize that's a bold statement, but he's shown great improvement since last year. I watched him manhandle (Ellis) Wyms and (Ryan) Sims on consecutive plays today. Not many people are going to get by him this year. He'll be a candidate, doesn't mean he'll make it.
ThePewterPirate: Do you think McCown will end up pushing Simms from the roster?
MP: I think it will be McCown pushing Gradkowski from the roster, or vice versa. I personally think the preseason will end with Simms being the No. 2 quarterback.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Davin turning into a (Pittsburgh's Alan) Faneca type player would be nice.
MP: Joseph has all the tools.
iDRIVEaCADDY: It made me mad when we took him (Joseph) over that big LT from Auburn.
MP: Marcus McNeill? Yeah, given the year he had in San Diego, I could see that. He was my selection in my mock draft that year, and a player I thought they were real interested in. Taking a guard in the first round is always an eyebrow-raiser.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Yeah, McNeill would have been nice to have. I thought he was going to fall to us.
MP: I think they want their line to be Trueblood, Joseph, (Dan) Buenning, (Arron) Sears and (Luke) Petitgout by 2008, 2009 at the latest.
ThePewterPirate: This line sounds better than last year's then.
iDRIVEaCADDY: I hope Petit(gout) turns out to be a steal.
MP: I think Petitgout is underrated. He did a great job protecting Eli Manning's blindside last year. Did you see their (the Giants') pass protection after he broke his leg? It went in the toilet. That's his best asset, his ability to pass protect, and with Garcia being a right-hander, they need that capability on the left side.
iDRIVEaCADDY: What about (Kenneth) Darby?
MP: I like him. I haven't seen much of him, but what I've seen I've liked. Good receiver, solid runner. His making the roster depends on how the Bucs want to configure things.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Do you think he will end up having a good camp and replacing (Michael) Pittman in a few years?
MP: I think he'll have a good camp. He'll either beat out Earnest Graham for the No. 3 back, or he'll be signed to the practice squad, if no one picks him up. Gruden likes him, and that's usually a good thing for a late-round pick like him. I don't know if he can project to have Pittman's ability in three years.
iDRIVEaCADDY: I think Pittman will start to slow.
ThePewterPirate: Yeah, but how many years does Pittman have left in him?
iDRIVEaCADDY: 3, maybe.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Then the decline will be too great.
MP: I don't think it will be this year. The Bucs are using him right, though I think he deserves a few more carries. I believe he's signed through 2010, and at a reasonable price. So three years sounds reasonable, as long as he's productive.
MP: The way he keeps himself in shape I could see him playing well into his 30s.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Which duo do you believe will be better next year — Joseph and Trueblood or Petitgout and Sears or Davis?
MP: In 2008? I think it will be Joseph and Trueblood. They'll have two years together by then, and Joseph's ability is going to make Trueblood better. Sears needs time to come along, and Petitgout is learning this system as he goes.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Will (Jerramy) Stevens push (Alex) Smith for the TE spot?
ThePewterPirate: I thought Gruden loved Smith?
iDRIVEaCADDY: Me too, but Stevens is a giant.
MP: I don't know if it's a matter of pushing, really. Gruden likes to use plenty of tight ends, and I think he wants to use all three in various fronts. Stevens is a beast of a tight end. He'll (Gruden) find a way to use him. It's just that Smith has three years in the scheme and Gruden wants him to make the leap this year. If he doesn't, then watch how he uses Stevens.
MP: It bears noting that I haven't seen Stevens drop a pass yet, and that he's been real open about his situation. He seems to be taking responsibility for his mistakes in Seattle.
ThePewterPirate: Is (Quincy) Black gonna end up replacing Brooks?
iDRIVEaCADDY: No, (Chicago's) Lance Briggs will. How many times to I have to tell you?
MP: Black's been used on the weak side with the second team, I believe. (But) I wouldn't say he's the heir apparent (yet).
ThePewterPirate: How many LB's are we going to have?
MP: The Bucs usually keep 6-7 linebackers.
ThePewterPirate: We still have (Ryan) Nece.
iDRIVEaCADDY: I think he will beat out (Cato) June.
MP: June will be the strong side starter. Nece is working backup middle linebacker behind (Barrett) Ruud. We found out the other day that June actually played the strong side in Indy, it's just that up there the strong side is the weak side. So he's not out of position.
iDRIVEaCADDY: I'm still worried about his size.
ThePewterPirate: June's or Black's?
MP: Nece is valuable, though, and he'll make the final cut. He just won't start. And Black could be the weak side starter one day, if the Bucs choose to keep June where he is.
iDRIVEaCADDY: I don't remember him (June) getting clipped by TEs at all last year.
ThePewterPirate: Not that I can remember.
MP: I don't think size will be much of an issue with June. I've watched him pursue like a maniac for three days. He'll chase down anything that gets by him. Plus he's a pretty fundamental tackler.
iDRIVEaCADDY: What? He wasn't one last year.
MP: And he's moving around a lot too, especially at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes left side, sometimes right side, mostly showing blitz. I think that's something the Bucs want to utilize.
iDRIVEaCADDY: I mean he made a lot, but he missed a lot, too.
MP: Seems the Bucs missed a lot of tackles last year, and I would say Derrick Brooks is a pretty fundamentally sound tackler.
iDRIVEaCADDY: I think (Will) Allen and (Jermaine) Phillips missed fewer tackles than June did last year.
MP: I'd have to check with Stats Inc. on that.
ThePewterPirate: And that brings us to our safeties. Please tell me we are replacing them.
MP: Nice segue.
ThePewterPirate: Yeah. I pounced on that.
MP: You did.
MP: So far the safeties have looked fine. I talked to Raheem (Morris, defensive backs coach) today. Mostly about the rooks.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Who is most likely to start — Sabby (Piscitelli) or Tanard (Jackson)?
ThePewterPirate: Sabby is my guess.
MP: He (Morris) likes both Sabby and Tanard as backups right now, but wants them to both be ready to contribute in case they're needed. He said most safeties don't make it through the whole season, so he needs them to be ready. I'd lean toward Piscitelli, if for no other reason than he was a higher pick than Tanard. But both have been effective in drills so far. Raheem said they're both picking up the schemes fine and making good adjustments when needed. He really wants to see Sabby hit, though.
ThePewterPirate: He isn't the only one. He's supposed to be a helluva hitter
iDRIVEaCADDY: Yeah, but didn't he see him hit today??
MP: Raheem has Sabby watching film of John Lynch, Dexter Jackson, etc..., for research. Hitting in training camp is a lot different than hitting in games. There's contact, but it's not full tilt. Most times you'll see players pull up and give the ball carrier a little love pat to simulate contact. But it's not full bore, like a game. If you have them going full bore, you'll end up with too many injuries. BTW, I don't see either Sabby or Tanard usurping Phillips or Allen by opening day. That would be asking a lot.
MP: But I think you're going to see them spell them early in the regular season.
MP: I've got about five more minutes.
iDRIVEaCADDY: The pass rush this year should help cover up them looking so bad this year. They weren't as bad as they looked last year.
MP: I think the rush will be better. It has to be. I didn't like the Rice move, because they had the cap room and the PUP to put him so he could heal up, and no one would lose reps. But I think they'll end up being all right, it's just they won't have that possibility of dominating one side.
iDRIVEaCADDY: What about Phillip Buchanon. Gruden said he looked good.
MP: Buchanon has looked good. He doesn't look confused, which he did at times last year.
iDRIVEaCADDY: Will he be better at nickel than (Juran) Bolden last year?
MP: Buchanon will make a better coverage nickel. I don't know about a better hitting nickel. But he's miles ahead of (Torrie) Cox in that department. He'll be able to keep up with anyone in the slot. I really don't think Cox will make this team. I see him getting outplayed every day by receivers. Plus there's the suspension, which could be reduced, but I don't think will go away.