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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs' break from youth movement shows concern about OL

The Bucs have insisted lately on adding almost exclusively players in the infancy of their careers.

The closest they've come to adding an aging veteran was the acquisition of 29-year-old Reggie Brown, who they netted in a trade with the Eagles.

Now comes word the Bucs have signed former Panthers guard Keydrick Vincent, who at 32, becomes the second-oldest player on the roster. Cornerback Ronde Barber, 35, is the oldest. What's more, they are the only two Bucs over the age of 30, though defensive end Stylez White will turn 31 on July 25.

So, why are the Bucs deviating so wildly from their stated plan of building with young players? It's not a stretch to say this is an indication that the Tampa Bay brass isn't thrilled with its situation on the offensive line and is looking to push left guard Jeremy Zuttah. He is widely thought to be under a microscope from his coaches after an uneven season last year, his first as a starter.

Really, the Bucs are still trying to recover from the loss of Arron Sears, who was released earlier this summer after missing all of 2009 because of off-the-field matters and then suffering a setback in his recovery. Sears was a player the Bucs were counting on being a key cog on their line for years to come, leaving Zuttah as a utility man who could fill in and provide competition when and where the team needed.

Now, Zuttah has been thrust into the spotlight and has to grow up and play like a veteran quickly.

If he doesn't, perhaps that's where Vincent comes in. He is a player the Bucs are very familiar with, having faced him four times in the past two seasons. In those games, Carolina rushed for an astounding 765 yards, an average 191.3 yards. If Vincent was indeed a key part of that effort, it's understandable why the Bucs see value in bringing him to town. All in all, this is a very sensible move.

The fact that the Bucs are straying so far from what has become the norm around here is a sign that Tampa Bay felt it really needed some help on the inside of its offensive line.

UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Vincent's two-year deal is worth $4.5 million, a hefty price for a backup guard. Or maybe the Bucs don't envision him being a backup at all.

[Last modified: Monday, July 19, 2010 2:42pm]

    

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