TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers open training camp on July 28 at One Buc Place. Here's a 53-man roster projection:
Coach Dirk Koetter said the Buccaneers are leaning toward keeping two instead of three quarterbacks on the active roster. Fitzpatrick, who has 116 career starts, gets the nod over Ryan Griffin based on experience.
Doug Martin will miss the first three games of the season because of a suspension, which is why he's not listed. The Bucs will have some decisions to make after Week 3 in determining who should occupy the fourth and final spot. With Rodgers and Martin essentially capable of lining up as first- and second-down backs, and with Sims and McNichols more as third-down backs, Barber could be the odd man out -- although he could be an asset in short-yardage situations.
The Bucs have far more talent at this position than in previous years, with Dye getting the nod over Josh Huff and Bernard Reedy because of his kick-return abilities. But really, it's a toss-up at this point, and it will come down to special teams.
Brate assumes the H-back/pass-catching role, and Howard will line up as the "Y" tight end who blocks and catches. The Bucs won't carry a fullback again this season, instead relying on Stocker, their top run-blocker. Although Cross didn't have a particularly strong minicamp, both he and Auclair make it. If it's a numbers game, both also could assume roles on the practice squad.
The Bucs shifted Marpet to center this offseason, meaning Evan Smith and Hawley are playing backup interior roles. With Pamphile likely sticking at guard, Wester can step in as a backup "swing tackle" and Benenoch can serve as a backup at guard and tackle.
This is by far the most challenging roster prediction because of the shuffling defensive line coach Jay Hayes does up front, and because the pads haven't come on yet. Rookie Tu'ikolovatu beats out Sealver Siliga as an interior run-stuffer. Johnson, who missed all of last season with a fractured hip, could be the odd man out if the Bucs opt to go with nine here.
The real question is if Beckwith will be healthy enough to occupy a roster spot, let alone start, after suffering a torn ACL last season. He's expected to compete with Bond for the starting strongside role.
Smith, a safety last season, earns one of two backup outside cornerback roles. McClain can serve as the starting nickel, and Adjei-Barimah can back up both outside and inside. Josh Robinson, who lined up at safety this offseason, can serve as a backup at both positions, although his key role will be on special-teams coverage. Javien Elliott, who started five games at nickel last season because of Adjei-Barimah's suspension, makes the practice squad.
Folk's ability from 40-plus yards ultimately beats out Roberto Aguayo in the preseason.