The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to go through offseason workouts heading for training camp. All of that work, mostly to get players in shape and adjusted to the team’s schemes.
Oh, and they’ll have to determine the winners of some position battles, too. Many positions and roster spots have effectively already been determined, of course, but some still remain. And some of those choices will be pretty difficult, though not necessarily important.
The biggest such roster decision, according to ESPN’s Field Yates at least: who will be the team’s kicker.
Who's the kicker? General manager Jason Licht deserves credit for adding kicking competition this offseason after Roberto Aguayo struggled as a rookie. Yes, it was a bold move to trade up to draft him in the second round last year, but some of the best NFL teams are willing to concede a move did not go as planned. If Aguayo gets on track and becomes a topflight kicker, the Bucs will have no regrets. In the meantime, he must earn the job in a battle with veteran Nick Folk.
Eh.....no. Yeah, sure, the Bucs will have to make a decision here, but this is not going to be the most important one they make by any stretch of the imagination. Kickers just aren’t that important (which is why you don’t spend second-round picks on them).
And the decision’s not likely to be that difficult: if Folk is the decisive winner, he’ll get the job. If Aguayo is the winner or is close to Folk, they’ll likely stick with the young guy who they have more invested in, and who is better at kickoffs. Whichever they choose, it’s not likely to be a high-impact decision.
That’s not necessarily true at other positions. There are set to be a few big position battles, either for playing time or for roster spots.
The Bucs know mostly what their offensive line will look like, but will they stick with veterans like Evan Smith at the backup positions, or will they give younger, more talented guys a chance? That’s more than an academic question: backup linemen get on the field basically every year, sometimes for a full season.
The defensive line is going to be fascinating, too:how much will they focus on 3-4 alignments? And what will their pass-rushing sets look like?
There’s also running back, though that’s looking to be less of a battle these days. Doug Martin is likely to be the main back, while Jacquizz Rodgers will back him up. Charles Sims and Jeremy McNichols will get to battle for receiving snaps. The biggest question will be the workload assigned to each player.
But the most open-ended battle of them all will be at safety. Keith Tandy, Chris Conte and J.J. Wilcox can all start, though none of them will blow anyone away. And then there’s rookie Justin Evans, who the Bucs have high hopes for but who may need some while to adjust to the NFL.
In other words: there’s plenty to pay attention to this offseason. The kicking battle is really just a sideshow.