Bucs leaning toward starting James Lee, Ted Larsen
The Bucs have been contemplating returning Jeremy Trueblood to the right tackle spot for a couple of weeks now, but coach Raheem Morris has continued to stick with backup James Lee even since Trueblood's return from a knee injury.
Asked today whether that decision has been a product of Trueblood's health or based on competition, Morris conceded it's a little of both. He then added that Lee would likely to start on Sunday even though Trueblood looked this week to be pretty much recovered from the knee injury.
"Right now, we're playing James and Trueblood's earning back his stripes through practice and throughout the week," Morris said. "He did a better job this week, so we look forward to getting him back as soon as we can. . . James started this whole week (in practice), so there's a good chance you'll see James. But that's not ruling (out) that you'll see Trueblood within the game."
Health and performance are certainly the biggest factors in this equation, but there are likely some other considerations for the Bucs. Keep in mind that both Trueblood and Lee will be free agents in the offseason, leaving the Bucs without a right tackle under contract. Don't think they're not evaluating Lee as an option in case Trueblood ends up signing elsewhere. It's also a possibility the Bucs could opt to look another option, like Lee. Those things will be decided much later, but that doesn't mean they aren't being thought about now.
At left guard, the situation got a bit muddled last week when coaches inserted Jeremy Zuttah early on against the 49ers and kept him in the game despite intentions to rotate him with Ted Larsen. Now, Morris is saying Larsen will again be the starter on Sunday, but it appears there could be more rotating in store this week.
Coaches continue to consider the left guard spot a competition between Larsen and Zuttah.