Torrie Cox: With Cox done for the year that may signal the end of his career in Tampa Bay. He's in a contract year and was already in an extremely competitive race at cornerback. With Ronde Barber, Phillip Buchanon, Aqib Talib and Eugene Wilson all outperforming him in camp, it was getting more difficult to see Cox making the roster. His special teams acumen would have helped. But with Cox now done for the year, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Bucs will release him at some point in 2008.
Now, Cox's injury does open a big door on special teams, because Cox played an integral role on both punt and kickoff coverage. Who stands to benefit? Two players stand out. Veteran Sammy Davis could use this opportunity to solidify a fifth cornerback spot. He played well in spots last year, but he's certainly the No. 5 CB on this team. S Donte Nicholson could also benefit. The Bucs aren't likely to keep him as a No. 5 safety. But if they choose to only keep four cornerbacks and Nicholson has a great camp, he could win a swing role as a No. 5 safety and a special teams ace.
Knowing Gruden, Davis will win the spot.
Donte Nicholson: Speaking of Nicholson, Gruden pointed out on Tuesday that the second-year pro was having an above-average camp. Nicholson has been off and on this roster since he was drafted in 2005. One would think he would either stick with the team or be gone for good at some point. The Bucs like the way he covers ground. But he faces an uphill battle, even with Cox's injury. Excelling on special teams would help.
Sabby Piscitelli: He's emerged quickly as a challenger for the No. 3 safety role. The second day of camp Piscitelli took some first-team reps opposite Jermaine Phillips (Tanard Jackson was suffering from cramps). He's also taken plenty of second-team reps at strong safety behind Phillips. He's performing better than I expected. It looks like he used his year rehabbing his injury to also further grasp the Bucs defense. Remember that he was working as an "advanced scout" for Gruden last season, breaking down film of the next opponent a week in advance. As I watched him make several big plays on the ball the first three days of camp, it's apparent that he picked some things up.
Dexter Jackson: On Monday I watched the 5-foot-8 receiver fight off CB Barber over the middle for a touchdown pass, so he's a little more powerful than I expected. Gruden was asked on Tuesday if he saw Jackson as just a returner this year. Gruden said he didn't want Jackson thinking like that, but admitted the Appalachian State star has a lot on his plate. So far he seems like he's handling it. But his first game against Miami will be interesting, because he'll take plenty of third-team receiving reps and second-team returning reps in the same game. How he handles that in the preseason will go a long way toward how he's used in the regular season, because this guy will make the team unless he gets hurt.
Ryan Sims: Gruden had praise for the seven-year veteran's ability to push the pocket and play both defensive tackle positions. I watched him the first three days and I wasn't terribly impressed with him. Sure, he's big, but there are at least four tackles in camp that move better than him. He's in the final year of his contract, so there's a chance he'll make the team. But I think he'll either be among the final cuts or inactive most of the season.
Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of bucsblitz.com.