Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive linemen are this year's Expendables

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Davin Joseph on injured reserve, Carl Nicks on injured reserve, Jeremy Trueblood benched -- injuries have decimated the Tampa Bay offensive line.

When this season started, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the most expensive offensive line in the NFL. Tampa Bay gave All-Pro guard Carl Nicks a five-year, $47.5 million contract just one season after giving guard Davin Joseph a seven-year, $52.5 million contract. Combined with Jeremy Trueblood's two-year, $11 million contract, Donald Penn's six-year, $41.7 million contract and Jeremy Zuttah's four-year, $16.3 million contract the Bucs sported more highly-paid linemen than any other team in the league.

Ten games into the 2012 season, though, only two of those expensive players are starting, and one of them isn't even starting at his original position. Davin Joseph was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury in the preseason. Carl Nicks was lost to a foot injury during the season. Jeremy Trueblood was benched after just one game.

As if that wasn't enough, the Bucs had trouble filling those spots. Ted Larsen was first asked to fill in for Joseph at right guard, but he was quickly benched for Jamon Meredith -- but not after briefly contemplating Jeremy Trueblood's prospects at the position. When Carl Nicks went down, the Bucs didn't try Larsen at left guard, but asked him to play center while Jeremy Zuttah slid to left guard. Demar Dotson took over effortlessly at right tackle, but that is, of course, the exception.

Overall, the Tampa Bay offensive line looks nothing like its projected configuration during the preseason. The only constant has been Donald Penn, who hasn't missed a game since first earning the starting job in 2007.

And yet, despite all of those changes, the Bucs' offensive line has been doing an outstanding job. Josh Freeman has been sacked just 14 times this season, which ranks second in the league. Of course, the quarterback is a big part of that, and the line has allowed its fair share of hits, but Freeman has been able to get the ball off in an offense that requires time to throw deep. The Buccaneers also sport the league's sixth-best yards-per-carry statistic at 4.7, as the offensive line has been helped by Doug Martin's outstanding vision since the bye week.

Overall, the Expendables on the offensive line have done an outstanding job holding the fort. Next season, the team should have its Pro Bowl players back. But for now, this line has done just fine.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bucs Nation

You must be a member of Bucs Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Nation. You should read them.

Join Bucs Nation

You must be a member of Bucs Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker