Friday, Aug. 24
It's that time of year
This is the time of year when teams that are unsure of themselves look to the free agent market for help. And the Bucs are doing that with an eye toward shoring up two key positions — linebacker and returner.
Linebacker appears to be a more pressing need, given the workouts that Trotter and Singleton went through on Thursday. For more on their appearance, click here.
Injuries to Antonie Cash and Sam Olajubutu — both season-ending — left the Bucs with seven linebackers. A trade for rookie Jerry Mackey made it eight.
But the Bucs obviously want something more reliable. Consider that Derrick Brooks, Barrett Ruud and Cato June are set as starters. Then, you have veteran Jamie Winborn. After that, it gets dicey. Ryan Nece is a vet, but he's learning a new position in the middle and at times has looked lost. The rest of the linebackers are rookies.
Signing either Trotter or Singleton would offer a little reassurance if Ruud struggles as the starter. Or if Brooks is somehow hurt. Or if June just doesn't get it on the strong side.
But who? Yesterday in this space I touted Trotter because he's an East Texas boy like me. But while Trotter is talented, he's not the best fit. At his size (262 pounds) he's a run specialist now, and that's one area I don't expect Ruud to struggle with. And if Ruud gets hurt, having a dedicated middle linebacker like Trotter would be nice, but he would also be a liability in passing situations.
Thus, Singleton, 32, is the better fit. Yes, he's not exactly light at 250 pounds, but he has a few things going for him. First, he's lighter than Trotter. Second, playing strong side isn't a whole lot different than playing middle. Third, Singleton spent six years with Tampa Bay, was their strong side starter in Super Bowl XXXVII and presumably knows the defense. For Singleton, it all comes down to health. He's used the NFL's medical plan quite a bit during his career. It's part of the reason the Dallas Cowboys let him go after last season.
|Former Detroit return specialist Eddie Drummond. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)|
Mark Jones and Chad Owens have shown little from a return standpoint. I expected one of them to step up and take control of the job by now, and neither has. Adding Drummond to the mix, even at this late hour, could stir things up.
I wouldn't expect the Bucs to make a move until this weekend on either position. I wouldn't expect them to stop looking, either. There are still places on this team that could use firepower, and for the first time in a long time the Bucs have the money to spend — about $15 million under the cap, according to general manager Bruce Allen. They should be judicious, but they should also not be afraid to spend the cash if an opportunity to make this team better arises.
After a 4-12 season, you spare no one's feelings.
The Bucs are done with practice this week and are flying to Miami today for the preseason game with the Dolphins. Flying? I'm driving. C'mon, take a bus.
Anyway, at Bucsblitz.com we're getting you ready for the game. Each week we have a game capsule. It's designed to give you all the vital information on the game. We also have our exclusive "Behind Enemy Lines" series. This week, Dolphinsdigest.com's Alain Poupart answers my questions about the Dolphins and their progress during the preseason. Our "Press Pass" series continues with a question and answer session with second-year wide receiver Maurice Stovall, who is locked in a battle for a starting job.
Meanwhile, Tampa Tribune columnist Joe Henderson writes that as much as everyone would love to see Carnell Williams have a huge game Saturday night, it probably won't happen. Why? Williams will be lucky to touch the ball a handful of times on Saturday, according to Jon Gruden. And, as the season approaches and the Bucs are starting to feel the injury bug, veterans like Joey Galloway have one goal — stay healthy.
The Orlando Sentinel's Chris Harry writes that Trotter's tryout should not be seen as a vote of no-confidence against Ruud.
It's a short one today. I'll see you tomorrow in Miami for the preseason game. MP