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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs facing tough decisions at safety position



Ahmad Black’s interception off Titans quarterback Jake Locker and near touchdown return on Friday was a return to his roots.

The second-year player from Florida has always felt he has a nose for the football. He often gleefully told UF underclassmen as much.

“I kind of kidded around with the younger guys during my senior year and I told them, ‘I like to be on TV. The best way to be on TV is to be around the ball,’” Black said. “Good things happen around the ball.”

In a group of safeties that features Bucs great Ronde Barber and seventh overall draft choice Mark Barron, it’s going to take splash plays to get noticed. The Bucs could opt to keep just four safeties, meaning they’ll be choosing between Black, Larry Asante, Cody Grimm and rookie Keith Tandy as backups.

“We have good depth at the safety spot,” Black said. “Every day we go out and bust our butts and help each other in practice to get better.”
Safety is not a position teams tend to load up on extra bodies, so there are going to be some tough choices here for the Bucs.

Black seems safe after a good camp and a promising finish to 2011 following his promotion from the practice squad. After that, it’s less certain.

Asante has consistently run with the second team during training camp and is very involved in the kicking game. Grimm has had some struggles, but you can’t ignore the possible relationship between that and his season-ending knee injury last season. Grimm’s experience is a going to be a factor in evaluating him. Though he’s just in his third year, he’s the most experienced safety other than Barber.

Tandy is a player the front office was very high on. His ability to also play cornerback sets him apart, but it’ll be hard for him to crack the top four at safety – where he’s currently playing.

Keeping more than four safeties isn’t unprecedented, but doing so will have a cascade effect on other units that might be short-handed as a result.

There’s still plenty of time before final cuts, but the competition is in full swing. Tough roster decisions aren’t fun, but they’re a hallmark of good football teams.

The Bucs should hope they have plenty of them to make.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 9:23am]


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