Luke Stocker had one very important catch on Sunday: a 24-yarder down the seam. That catch was important for the team because it was the biggest play on the team's only touchdown drive. It was also important for Stocker, because it should give the team a little more confidence to get him on the field.
Right now Luke Stocker is mostly restricted to running downs. Kellen Winslow is unequivocally a better receiver, and two-tight end sets on passing downs aren't all that efficient. Obviously that means Stocker'snot going to be on the field on passing downs. But he's also restricted in more ambiguous situations.
And that's caused by a number of factors. First, there's the emergence of Erik Lorig as a surprisingly powerful fullback. Lorig has really been hitting hard and playing well these past two games, and this keeps Stocker off the field on some downs. The Bucs like to keep two wide receivers on the field at all times, and this means that they can either keep a tight end and a fullback or two tight ends on the field - but not both. So the Bucs would either have to take Lorig or Kellen Winslow out. Lorig is playing too well to be taken out much, while taking Winslow off the field would significantly any threat of passing.
Another reason why Stocker isn't on the field as much is his lack of receiving prowess, which is why that catch was so important for him. Stocker showed he could get down the seam, behind the linebackers and hurt a defense in the passing game. Stocker isn't going to be a dynamic receiver, but he is fast enough to attack the seams. He showed a similar ability in game one, but the ball bounced off his fingertips on that pass.
But the third reason may be most important: Stocker just isn't a great blocker right now. He does a decent job of walling off his opponents and double teaming defensive ends, and he generally manages to keep his man out of the play. But I haven't seen him get much push, or even wow me with a block. And for someone who has to make his living on running downs, that's a bit of a problem.
From what I've seen he still is the best blocking tight end the Bucs have right now, though. Kellen Winslow can't do all that much as a blocker, although he sure does try, and I haven't seen Zack Pianalto on the field yet. That's why Luke Stocker has still seen the field quite a bit as a run blocker despite all these problems.
I'd like to see Stocker's role expand a little as he becomes more comfortable in the passing game. Having him out there gives the Bucs a better running attack than having Kellen Winslow out there while still giving them some versatility in the passing game. And, of course, the Bucs could use some more two-tight end sets, although that would mean keeping Erik Lorig off the field.