Building on the day 1 dismissals of Brian Price and Dezmon Briscoe, reports continue to emerge of new coach Greg Schiano preaching discipline during the opening weekend of training camp for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a 'take no prisoners' mentality, the Bucs' leader intends to change the team's approach to fundamentals.
While turnovers and missed tackles characterized the 2011 squad, Schiano is determined to limit such mistakes in 2012. Though practice helps, sometimes players prove unable to break sloppy habits. As cuts occur to the 90 man roster over the next 6 weeks, some competitors will be released due to an inability to adjust to new expectations. In nearly every NFL camp, big names lose jobs in pre-season. Here is a look at 5 Buccaneers who could potentially be on the hot seat.
LeGarrette Blount (RB): Though the production of this 3rd year player tailed off last season, with 781 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns, Blount remained the Bucs' primary backfield option when healthy. Yet, due to the 1st round selection of rookie Doug Martin, that distinction is questionable. Furthermore, the 25 year-old bull rusher is suspect at additional duties like picking up blitzes and getting free on screen passes. Such weaknesses may prove too much for Schiano. Working in Blount's favor is that the Bucs' backfield depth remains weak. However, if 7th round pick Michael Smith impresses, it could mean walking papers for Blount.
Arrelious Benn (WR): Like Blount, Benn is another 3rd year player who typifies the prior coaching staff. Though Benn is a wideout with good size and great speed, he has struggled to fit the Bucs' system and makes mistakes. For a high 2nd round pick, Benn has underachieved and his sophomore campaign witnessed little improvement on his rookie effort. The release of Dez Briscoe likely signifies that Schiano wants Benn to have a shot at becoming 3rd on the depth chart, but it must be earned. If overachieving Preston Parker or former Rutgers' star Tiquan Underwood outplays Benn, the former college speedster could be released.
Quincy Black (LB): This will be the outside linebacker's 6th year in the Bucs' system. Black thus is a rare player remaining who was imported during the Jon Gruden era. That status alone may work against him. Yet, the greater obstacle to Black's future is that after signing a big contract in 2011, he disappointed in hopes of emerging as a leader on defense. Tampa Bay used mid-round picks beefing up the linebacking corps with the lauded selections of Najee Goode and Lavonte David. Improved depth will increase the pressure on Black to perform. 3rd year player Dekoda Watson also stands ready to take his place at a cheaper price.
Cody Grimm (S): The son of Hall of Famer Russ Grimm is a scrappy and popular player for whom fans love to root. Selected in the 7th round of the 2010 draft, Grimm not only became a starter, but frequently appeared one of the better players on the field for Tampa Bay. However, after enduring 2 consecutive seasons marred by injury, Grimm is gaining a brittle reputation. The release of Tanard Jackson initially confirmed his place in the new defense. However, the subsequent drafting of 1st rounder Mark Barron and shift of veteran Ronde Barber to safety quickly crowded the position. If Grimm struggles or especially gets injured again, his days are numbered.
Sammie Stroughter (WR/KR): During his rookie campaign of 2009, Stroughter looked like a solid special teams player with potential to become a serviceable wideout. Those hopes gradually faded over the past 2 seasons and Stroughter's value appears confined to punt and kick returning. It remains to be seen if Schiano will use a roster spot on such a limited role. Additionally, Preston Parker can fulfill those same positions and has displayed superior pass catching skills. With 7 or 8 receivers competing for 5 or 6 spots, Stroughter could be odd man out.
Yahoo! Sports, Buccaneers.com.
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Jeff Briscoe is a writer who covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. A loyal Tampa Bay Bucs fan, he co-hosts the Florida-based radio show, The Sports Train.
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- Greg Schiano
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- Dezmon Briscoe