In a somewhat surprising release of information, it appears as if Arron Sears has lost his starting job. As you may or may not know, Sears has been inactive in the offseason due to some apparent concussion issues, either from 2008 or offseason work. The team, and Sears have maintained silence on this issue, calling it a personal matter.
Apparently, Sears wasn't excused from minicamp, and as a result of not being there, a formal change in the depth chart has been made with Zuttah now occupying the starting left guard spot. Morris is quoted as saying about Zuttah
I look out there and I see that number so that’s our guy starting for us right now. That’s his role, that’s his job.
He also added that Sears has to show up and compete for the job to be his, essentially saying that no one can rest on their laurels and be handed the job.
Now, I have no problem with players having to compete for their jobs. I think it is something not typically taken serious in NFL camps with most starters being entrenched before the season begins. I've got no problem with Zuttah playing and being a starter. I think he did a fantastic job filling in as needed last year. My concern is with A) how this situation is being handled and B) what type of message it sends.
If Sears has not been excused from minicamps, and he has no valid excuse, then sure, penalize him. But, if we are going to continue singing the same song that he is out due to injury, and he's dealing with personal matters, thats another story. We've continue to hear how he's dealign with this concussion issue and is working on it. I don't think you call out a player, or infer he lost his job by not being there. Maybe (hopefully) there's more to this story than we currently know. If he is dealing with health realted issues, I hope he can get healthy with no lignering effects and come back to play for the Bucs.
Assuming it is health related, what type of message does this send players? This type of action would seem to lead to players coming back too early from injuries, trying to do too much in order to retain their starting job. The whole concussion fiasco being looked at by the NFL has basically said that players weren't acknowledging their concussions so they could get on the field and not miss time, not lose their job. This seems to be the same type of behavior.
I'll say it again, if this is a health related issue, there are better ways of doing it. You could say "Zuttah is out here with the starters and will continue to be a starter until Sears is back 100% and proven he is ready to go". This leads to some competition, but a message that we have a plan in place. By dusting Sears to the side, for a stated and apparent injury related reason sends the wrong message.
I'm sure this isn't the last we will hear on this matter.