Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5 key Bucs camp battles for starting positions
TAMPA - When you go 3-13 in the National Football League, it's safe to assume at least some jobs are up for grabs. When the Bucs open 2010 training camp to the public Saturday, Tampa Bay fans can focus on five key position battles that will go a long way toward determining the success of a distressed franchise.
SAFETY Sabby Piscitelli vs. Sean Jones: After struggling through his first full season as an NFL starter, Piscitelli found himself the poster child for Tampa Bay's secondary woes. Jones, signed as a free agent from Philadelphia, has the experience and smarts to challenge Piscitelli for a starting safety job next to emerging standout Tanard Jackson. Coach Raheem Morris said Jones and Piscitelli, a former second-round pick, will each be afforded every opportunity to excel in this wide-open competition.
LEFT GUARD Jeremy Zuttah vs. Keydrick Vincent: Zuttah started all 16 games in 2009 after Arron Sears went AWOL due to personal reasons. The Bucs weren't thrilled with Zuttah's lack of physicality and Vincent, a two-year starter in Carolina, should mount a serious challenge. The Panthers averaged 4.8 yards per carry last season and Vincent is considered an effective run blocker.
WIDE RECEIVER Reggie Brown vs. Michael Clayton and rookies Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn: Buc coaches are excited about the big-play potential of Williams, who could be the deep threat QB Josh Freeman craves. Brown, obtained from the Eagles, is determined to resurrect a once-promising career as a precise route runner. Clayton hasn't made an impact since his glorious 2004 rookie season while Benn seeks to establish himself as a productive target who excels after the catch. Second-year pro Sammie Stroughter returns in the slot and Maurice Stovall made tangible strides last year.
NICKELBACK Rookie Myron Lewis vs. Elbert Mack and E.J. Biggers: Lewis, a rangy third-round pick out of Vanderbilt, appears to have the inside track at nickel. The Bucs also have hopes Lewis can be groomed behind 35-year-old CB Ronde Barber, but he could find himself on the field 60 percent of the time as a rookie. Biggers spent almost the entire 2009 season on injured reserve with a shoulder problem while Mack often appeared out of position.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE Roy Miller vs. rookie Brian Price: Miller flashed enough skills in his first pro season to excite Buc coaches about his potential as a 310-pound run stuffer. The former Texas standout will need a strong camp to hold off Price, a disruptive force at UCLA who has a knack for making stops behind the line of scrimmage.
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