Thursday, Aug. 16
The Bucs Buzz
Today is the last day of training camp, perhaps the happiest day on earth for a professional football player besides winning the Super Bowl.
At Bucsblitz.com right now, you can view my five best and worst stories to come out of training camp. here's the link. We'll also have post-camp coverage, including Jon Gruden's final press conference in Orlando, later today.
At the St. Petersburg Times, defensive end Kevin Carter is so versatile that he can play anywhere on the defensive line. Well, the Bucs appear to have him tabbed for the left side this season, and Carter is game for whatever Tampa Bay wants to throw at him.
For those of you that are still depressed over Mike Alstott, you probably won't like the headline of this Orlando Sentinel story on Derrick Brooks. Brooks is now the only player on the active roster that wore the team's old Florida Orange uniforms. He's 34 and he knows that one day he'll have to follow Shelton Quarles and Dave Moore, and perhaps Alstott, in to retirement. And the Lakeland Ledger presents its own take on the burgeoning battle at safety, from the perspective of the starters.
Camp is over
Apparently the heat has gotten to Jon Gruden. He's done with training camp — early.
The final practice of training camp was canceled Thursday morning, leaving what few fans that were there high and dry for autographs and such.
Whether that means Gruden will speak to the media before leaving Orlando remains to be seen.
Gruden, you might remember, also canceled the final practice of mini-camp in June.
Now all the Bucs have left is a walkthrough at MacDill Air Force Base on Friday in Tampa before leaving for the preseason game on Saturday night in Jacksonville.
I promised this yesterday, but didn't quite get around to it. These are eight players or units you can get fairly late in your draft that I think will have a lot of value this season:
|Atlanta RB Jerious Norwood. (AP)|
D.J. Hackett, WR, Seattle: I drafted him in one of my leagues in the 12th round. All he does is catch footballs, and once he beats out Nate Burleson for the No. 2 job he's going to catch a lot more. He caught a career-high 45 passes last year. In the Seahawks' offense, that number could go up to 60 or more.
Tatum Bell, RB, Detroit: Another guy I'm bullish on, because backs in a Mike Martz-led offense are usually successful. Plus, there are conflicting reports on the status of starter Kevin Jones, who is battling a foot fracture. He may start the season on PUP. If he does, Bell gets most of the carries and could benefit from an improved passing game, better line play and Martz's play-calling imagination.
Jason Campbell, QB, Washington: His starting numbers last year project to about 23 touchdown passes, a solid figure for a third-year quarterback. Plus, I like his rapport with Santana Moss, who had some of his best numbers last year with Campbell at quarterback. And, Joe Gibbs likes to pound away with the run, and that can protect this young quarterback from making too many mistakes. Take him late and see what happens.
Maurice Stovall, WR, Tampa Bay: I'm not sure this guy is going to explode, because Tampa Bay's offense doesn't inspire a lot of confidence right now. But all the tools are there, and his 6-foot-5 frame and leaping ability give him an advantage over just about every cornerback in the NFL. He won't have a big year, but he can be had late and he could produce a few TDs for you when your studs are on a bye. Plus I need a Buc on here or I'm going to hear about it.
Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia: It's the "Third-Year Wide Receiver" theory at work. Brown is now Donovan McNabb's top target, and McNabb will be just fine. Brown loves to get upfield and could end up with 60-70 catches this year. His career high is 46. He also had eight TDs last year. Best of all, he can be had in the middle rounds because some people are unsure of him and McNabb. I'm not.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh: I wanted this guy in a recent draft, but it would have put me in a bye week bind. People will forget about him because of Hines Ward, but don't forget that he had 49 receptions as a rookie last year. Defenses will key on Ward and Willie Parker and leave Holmes in single coverage. His TDs will go up.
Dallas defense: They may not qualify as a sleeper, but Wade Phillips will turn this passive 3-4 into the most aggressive defense in the NFC — and I got the Cowboys with my final pick in a recent draft. Anthony Spencer will start as a rookie and the Cowboys have solid returners. If OLB Greg Ellis will just be patient, go on PUP and come back at midseason, this defense could be a beast by the time he comes back.
Keep three, Jack
Over at Jagnation.com, our Jacksonville Jaguars site on Scout.com, Charlie Bernstein published a recent article about what the Jaguars should do with their No. 3 quarterback position. Bernstein took the position that the Jaguars keeping just two quarterbacks this season is an intriguing possibility. Even head coach Jack Del Rio admitted there's merit to the idea. You can give the story a read yourself by clicking here. Of course, the Jags are playing the Bucs this weekend in preseason, so it's worth your time to head over there and get informed about the Jags and how they're doing entering the game.
I'd have to disagree with Charlie on this one, though. I think taking just two quarterbacks into the regular season is a mistake. Just look at the Buccaneers. In Gruden's five seasons as head coach, the Buccaneers have used three quarterbacks four of those seasons. The position is one of the worst, in terms of attrition. That's why Jon Gruden seems to pursue every quarterback that comes near Tampa Bay every year. He knows from experience.
Their starter, Byron Leftwich, has missed time each of the last two seasons with injuries. Their backup, David Garrard is serviceable, but even Bernstein admits his abilities are limited. I'm sure the Jags had set aside that third spot for Daunte Culpepper in the event they were able to sign him.
Given those facts, doesn't it seem smart to keep a third quarterback? Admittedly, he won't be someone that will set your world on fire. Quinn Gary? Tim Couch? Yeah, those are pretty slim pickings. But it's better than having your pants around your ankles in November if both Leftwich and Garrard are hurt and your backup quarterback is, um, well — who would that be again?
I think that's all for today. Watch for our "Behind Enemy Lines" series to return on Friday. Both Charlie and I have exchanged questions and answers about our teams and are ready to unveil them, in anticipation of Saturday's preseason game.