Buccaneers Preview: Tight ends

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.

Which five Bucs have the most to gain — and the most to lose — at training camp? Bucsblitz.com has the scoop for you in this exclusive analysis Just click here to find out who made the list.

TIGHT ENDS: Starters -- Alex Smith. Backups -- Jerramy Stevens, Ben Troupe, Doug Gilmore, Daniel Fells.

Smith has been consistent in his three years as a starter, but he has yet to have that explosive season that some predicted he's capable of. He's a tall, speedy receiver with good hands and has much better blocking skills than when he came into the league. He's as close to a complete tight end as the Bucs are likely to get for a while. He's entering the last year of his deal.

Stevens returns after finishing last year with a flourish, catching 10 passes in the final few games. One of those was a key TD grab against New Orleans. He seemed to grasp the offensive system in his final weeks and could make some inroads into Smith's playing time. He is easily the team's biggest target.

Gilmore was signed mostly as a blocking tight end, though he has good enough hands to be productive as a receiver. But with Smith and Stevens, Gilmore will see limited touches. His ability to block, though, is unquestioned and in two tight end sets he'll be a valuable asset.

Troupe is more in the Smith-Stevens mold. He caught more than 30 passes as a Tennessee Titan, but got lost in the offense last year. Troupe is likely to see better numbers because the quarterback situation in Tampa Bay is better than Tennessee. But, like Gilmore, he's likely to suffer from limited touches. Still, he's an inviting target that could fill in nicely if Smith or Stevens is hurt.

Which five positions battles are going to keep Buccaneers coaches and fans interested the next six weeks? There are key battles that could determine the Bucs' success this season. What are they? Get expert analysis and predictions from Bucsblitz.com. Just click here to find out who made the list.

They were the nine biggest stories of the offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How did the Bucs do in the magnifying glass of hindsight? Did they do the right things to attack their team needs and keep the team on the winning track? Matthew Postins of bucsblitz.com examines those storylines and their impact on the upcoming season in his exclusive group of articles:

Vol. 1 — the coaching staff.

Vol. 2 — the secondary's future.

Vol. 3 — is Jovan Haye a future star?

Vol. 4 — the precarious state at running back.

Vol. 5 — who will eventually replace Joey Galloway?

Vol. 6 — Jon Gruden's contract extension.

Vol. 7 — What should the Bucs do at center?

Vol. 8 — re-signing a key tight end.

Vol. 9 — assessing the return game.

We're gearing up for training camp at Bucsblitz.com. Today we've posted our first Mailbag feature, with answers to questions on Greg White, Jeff Garcia and a potential breakout player. Just click here to check it out. Part 2 will include an answer on Brett Favre and be published later this week.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla.

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