With the first preseason game over, we have a little more information to base roster projections on. So, we can now get at that. The Bucs will have 53 roster spots on Sundays, this regular season, and with 90 players in training camp right now they will have to make a lot of tough decision. With the first preseason game in the books, this is what I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster will look like.
Quarterbacks (3): Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson, Rudy Carpenter
Practice Squad candidate: Jonathan Crompton
This isn't really as much of a no-brainer as it may seem. The new CBA has removed the 3rd quarterback rule, which allowed teams to keep a third quarterback on the inactive list on gamedays but still activate him. Rudy Carpenter was the third quarterback for the Bucs last season, but they could choose to go with just two quarterbacks on the roster. If they do so, Michael Spurlock will be basically guaranteed a roster spot, as he could serve as the emergency quarterback.
Blount is the unquestioned starter, and Lumpkin and Graham would serve as capable backups. Lumpkin is similar to Blount in terms of running style, while Graham offers versatility and a change of pace. Lumpkin and Graham will fight it out for the third-down spot, but I don't see Allen or Bradford making a real push for the roster.
Erik Lorig is nursing a minor hamstring injury, but should be fine for the regular season. Rendrick Taylor got a shot on Friday, but didn't look good enough to take over.
Williams, Benn and Briscoe have a firm grasp of the first three wide receiver spots. Stroughter will be the slot specialist and has had a terrific camp. Ed Gant has looked great in training camp, and didn't look bad against the Chiefs, so the Bucs will likely keep him on the roster. Micheal Spurlock is likely to stick on the roster because of his versatility, having the ability to contribute as a returner and wide receiver, as well as an emergency quarterback if necessary. He beats out Preston Parker based on the first preseason game. Sadly, Parker is not eligible for the practice squad.
Tight Ends (3): Kellen Winslow, Luke Stocker, Ryan Purvis:
Practice Squad candidates: Daniel Hardy, Nathan Overbay
While neither Stocker nor Winslow played against the Chiefs, they are both guaranteed to be on the roster. Ryan Purvis is likely to be the third tight end on the roster, as a blocking specialist. Nathan Overbay didn't do enough to push Purvis out of a job, while Daniel Hardy had an ugly drop. Hardy did make two catches, though, and could be on the roster as a fourth tight end. Because he's a receiver only, he would likely be competing with Ed Gant for a roster spot, not Purvis.
Penn is the unquestioned starter while Trueblood is clearly winning the battle at right tackle with James Lee. Will Barker got some playing time in 6-O-linemen sets last season and has the versatility to play multiple spots on the offensive line, which likely keeps him on the roster. Demar Dotson didn't show enough to remain on the roster, and because he was on the active roster for 9 games in his first season he is not eligible for the practice squad. Corey Brandon could land on the practice squad, though that chance seems small.
Larsen and Joseph looked very good against the Chiefs, while Hardman looked solid and has playing experience. Behind those three, the Bucs are only likely to keep Brandon Carter, but he would be best served with another year of developing on the practice squad.
Faine is the clear starter, while Zuttah is a very capable backup who could play most positions on the offensive line. Neither player is really being challenged by anyone. Matt Allen might make the practice squad, I have little good or bad to say about him so far.