In less than a week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open their 2013 preseason schedule against the Baltimore Ravens. That August 8 battle at Raymond James Stadium will fall just 15 days after the team began training camp, and it's certain that some of the position battles that began on Day One of camp will still be ongoing.
Still, the NFL requires each team to produce a depth chart before its first game, and that's what the Buccaneers did on Friday. Given that the chart has a robust 90 names on it and that the first regular-season game is still more than a month away, Friday's release is light-years from final. In fact, given a few injury situations, the starting 22 in next Thursday's game aren't likely to match what the Bucs have put on paper this week.
All of which is to say, consider the Buccaneers' current depth chart to be a work in progress rather than an official declaration of which players are ahead in the fight for starting jobs. It is nevertheless the first three-deep (or six-deep, as is the case at some positions during camp) to be put on paper, so it's worth a quick review.
Thus, some points of interest on the depth chart made public on Friday:
- Running Back
"Your backup running backs have to be able to help you on special teams," said Head Coach Greg Schiano. "That’s the athletic build that should [help on special teams] and at times we didn’t have that last year, which hurt your 46-man roster. [It] put too much of a burden on the other guys.”
- Wide Receiver
No real surprises here as
“I don’t know how many we’re going to carry," said Schiano on Friday. "It all depends how the mix goes. If you carry three quarterbacks, then how does that affect other areas? If you have a special-teamer, if you have a guy that can be on your big four then you may not carry as many wideouts. Wideout is one of those positions where sometimes that can be the spot where you decrease the 53 and then maybe you help yourself out a little bit in practice squad. You need the legs, you can’t ask your guys to do it in practice, but you may want to have that active position to be utilized for a big-four special teams guys. Those are all the juggling battles that take place, [but] that will be down the road a little bit. Right now we’re just trying to figure out who our three is, and from there, what our four and five look like and then is there a sixth, or is the sixth a practice squad [member]? We’ll figure it out.”
“I think Mike has been sharp all camp," said Schiano. "I think he’s grasping the offense. He’s got some good guys he’s working with, not only with Mike Sullivan and John McNulty, but the rest of the quarterbacks. That room is a strong room. He’s learning from some good people.”
- Defensive Tackle
- Strongside Linebacker
Schiano has said that he expects both
- Right Cornerback
Again, this is another spot where the eyes haven't lied during training camp. Johnson started five of the last six games at right cornerback in 2012 and so far he appears to be a prime candidate to keep that job in 2013, taking a lot of first-team snaps this summer. Of course, rookie second-rounder
“I don’t even look at it as competing for a starting job," said Johnson. "We just come out every day and get better. At the end of the day, someone has to play on the other side of [Darrelle] Revis, and that’s both of our goals. There are other positions on the field that we can both play in and contribute and help this team. It’s not about competition, outside of the lines, so much as getting better so we can all contribute to the team.”
- Punt and Kick Returner
At the moment, that's two different jobs on the depth chart, though it's possible that one player could win them both. Either way, they're going to belong to different men than they did in 2012.
On the first depth chart, first-year wide receiver
Joining Page in the punt return mix are first-year wide receiver David Douglas and rookie cornerback