NFL NEWS: Lovie Smith
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith may have more questions than answers on offense in their first preseason match against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At one time, the unit had experienced Pro Bowlers in Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph, will now be replaced by Oniel Cousins and Jamon Meredith. Center Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the Baltimore Ravens paving the way for Evan Dietrich-Smith. Left tackle Donald Penn was released in favor of former Cincinnati Bengal Anthony Collins. Meredith and Demar Dotson are the most experienced among the holdovers from the 2013 team. There may be concern how the line will gel, particularly in the left side.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford favors the run. Collins’ former team, the Bengals, ranked 18th in rushing, but eighth in passing. Cousins former team, the Cleveland Browns, ranked 27th in rushing and 11th in passing. Dietrich-Smith’s former team, the Green Bay Packers, ranked seventh in rushing and sixth in passing.
Collins and Cousins will be protecting quarterback Josh McCown‘s left side and success in the running game will depend on the unit’s versatility. If the running back isn’t able to run on the left side, it might limit the offense. If the team is struggling on the run, you can expect some three-step drops to mix it up.
While the first depth chart released this season might favor veterans, don’t read too much into rookie Mike Evans dropping below Chris Owusu. There are tons of new faces to the squad. Vincent Jackson, Owusu, Eric Page, Skye Dawson and Russell Shepard remain the holdovers from last season.
Jackson remained productive in 2013 catching 78 balls for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns. His remaining receiver help coming into this season? How about a combined 19 receptions for 194 yards and no TDs. Tight end Tim Wright was the next most productive receiver with 54 catches for 571 yards and five TDs.
While we can expect Evans to pick up where Mike Williams left off as no. 2 wideout, it will be interesting to see who emerges as the slot receiver. Louis Murphy and rookie Robert Herron are among the favorites, but journeyman Lavelle Hawkins, Tommy Streeter and the other incumbents shouldn’t be ignored either.
The Bucs have loaded up in the position with the acquisition of former New York Giants Brandon Myers. The five-year veteran brings his 158 catches for 1,578 yards and eight TDs to the team. The Bucs also drafted Washington-standout Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round, whose 6-foot-6 frame and speed will be terrorizing defenses.
The two holdovers in Tim Wright and Luke Stocker are also fighting for spots on the team. Stocker might be on the outside-looking-in given his lack of production since the Bucs drafted him in 2011.