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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers

With Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Sammie Stroughter, Dezmon Briscoe, Preston Parker and Michael Spurlock the Bucs' receiving corps is young and talented. But this is far from a finished group. Mike Williams is a star and will be the starter going into the season. Sammie Stroughter should have no trouble holding on to the slot receiver role, despite a disappointing 2010 season. But the Bucs have a lot of question marks for the starter across from Mike Williams. 

Arrelious Benn is the favorite to be the starter going into camp, but he is still rehabbing from his knee injury and is not 100% yet. In fact, most players with ACL injuries spend a year after their rehab learning to fully trust their knee. Even if Benn is physically 100%, he might not be mentally ready to start again. That could launch Michael Spurlock or Dezmon Briscoe into a starting role, but neither player is likely to be a star. 

Spurlock is a good kick returner and a serviceable wide receiver who made some clutch catches last season, but nothing more than that. Dezmon Briscoe has a lot of talent as a big-bodied WR and showed some abilities in very limited time last season. At the same time, Briscoe is one of the few receivers who have not shown up to train with Freeman, which will certainly limit him. Preston Parker is also on the roster, but he is a kick returner and slot receiver only, and not a threat to start. 

With no solid starter across from Mike Williams, it's certainly a possibility the Buccaneers bring in a free agent wide receiver. Sidney Rice, Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are the three top receivers around, but none of these seem likely candidates to sign with the Bucs. With Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn they already have two highly talented receivers, and are much more likely to look at second-tier free agents. 

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of worthwhile second-tier free agents. Steve Smith (of the Giants) is an intriguing player, but works best in the slot, not as an outside receiver. Malcolm Floyd may be the best fit of them all. He is a solid receiver, basically Vincent Jackson-lite, and he would be capable of starting on the outside. His size would add a dimension to the Bucs' receiving corps. Steve Breaston would be valuable as a speed receiver, and in a pinch, the Bucs could decide to re-sign Maurice Stovall.  Stovall has teased with his potential each year but has never put it all together. 

All in all, I feel it's likely that the Bucs add at least one free agent at wide receiver, in addition to some undrafted free agent. That player could be Maurice Stovall, Malcolm Floyd, Steve Breaston or another player, but I don't expect the Bucs' receiving corps to look the same come training camp. 


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