The Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin a three-day minicamp Tuesday that will conclude their offseason program. But they still have plenty of questions that need to be answered by the start of the regular season.
Let’s take a look at some key issues.
The situation at tight end. This should be one of the more competitive contests in training camp. Second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brandon Myers, Luke Stocker and Tim Wright all have their strong points. Seferian-Jenkins’ draft status may make him the favorite to start, but he was unable to participate in the offseason program due to NCAA regulations and that may set him back. There could be a lot of two tight end sets, but the Bucs need to sort this position out in training camp and the preseason.
Carl Nicks’ health. The left guard missed most of last season and hasn’t taken part in the offseason program. The team has been quiet about Nicks’ health, but this is a key issue. If Nicks is healthy, he’s one of the best guards in the league and the offensive line has a chance to be very good. If he’s not healthy, the Bucs will be looking at the possibility of starting Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins at the guard spots and that would make the offensive line far less imposing.
The rotation behind Doug Martin. The Bucs have made it clear that they will split the load among the running backs. We know that Martin is the featured back. But Mike James, Bobby Rainey, Jeff Demps and rookie Charles Sims are all in the mix for roster spots and playing time. There’s no clear-cut favorite for the top backup job and any of the four can claim it in the preseason.
The defensive line rotation. It sounds like the Bucs will rotate defensive linemen more frequently than they did under former coach Greg Schiano. That’s a good idea because the Bucs have some depth on the defensive line with the likes of Da’Quan Bowers, William Gholston, Steven Means and Akeem Spence.
The cornerback competition. Last week, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said the competition between Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins is very close. One of them will end up starting opposite Alterraun Verner, but it doesn’t sound like either one has an edge just yet.