Pre-Camp Review: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

by Matt Soltysiak

Tampa Bay lost the last four games of their season to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs, a collapse equal to that of the Denver Broncos.  The team enters 2009 with a new head coach in Raheem Morris.  The Bucs will have a new quarterback under center as Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese are no longer in town.  Wide receiver Joey Galloway and running back Warrick Dunn are also gone.  Replacements heading into Tampa include tight end Kellen Winslow, running back Derrick Ward and quarterback Byron Leftwich.

In the draft Tampa Bay addressed their quarterback concerns by taking Josh Freeman with their first round pick.  Tampa didn’t have a second round pick and their third and fourth round picks were used on the defensive side of the ball.

What to watch for in training camp

There are so many questions surrounding this team starting with the quarterback.  Will Josh Freeman start the season under center or will Byron Leftwich be the starter?  Either way, the position is a fragile one.  Leftwich is better from a fantasy perspective because he should have more immediate success. 

The teams leading rusher from last year, Warrick Dunn, was cut loose but Tampa Bay has two other guys looking to come back from injury in Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and Ernest Graham.  Plus there’s the addition of Derrick Ward.  Cadillac has never played an entire NFL season and in the last two years he’s played a total of 10 games.  He’s still young, but injuries are a big concern.  Graham found success filling in for Williams back in 2007, but struggled with injuries last year as well.  Ward had a break out season last year rushing for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, but he found the end zone only twice.  He’s the leading candidate to be the starting back, but watch the summer battle to see who comes out on top.

Catching the ball will be up to Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton along with Kellen Winslow.  These positions seem pretty well set, the problem is there’s no telling what type of production to expect.  After a year out of football Bryant (an eight year veteran) had the best season of his career.  Clayton’s never lived up to expectations and Winslow’s going to a new team after showing promise, but battling injuries up in Cleveland.  Whoever catches the quarterback’s eye the most is the guy you want to grab.  Watch how they all progress with the changes in Tampa Bay in an effort to gauge how worthy they are of being drafted.

Previous Reviews:
Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Bills
Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos
Detroit Lions
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Houston Texans
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Minnesota Vikings
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Washington Redskins

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