Lynch will start at safety, Lee at RT for Bucs vs. Falcons
The envelope please: Corey Lynch has won the starting safety job over rookie Vince Anderson and James Lee held off veteran Jeremy Trueblood for the right tackle spot for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Lee, who took over for Trueblood when he suffered a sprained right knee against the St. Louis Rams Oct. 24, has started the last five games even though Trueblood has been active for two of them.
Lynch, 25, takes over from Cody Grimm, who suffered a broken left fibula in the Bucs' 17-10 loss at Baltimore last week.
The Bucs also promoted Anderson from the practice squad and had him and Lynch battle it out. But Lynch has appeared in 31 career games and had a big edge in experience, something that might be critical facing Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Lynch had two interceptions in the final preseason game at Houston, including one he returned for a touchdown, and is tied for the lead in special teams tackles this season.
"I've got a lot of confidence in Corey,'' Morris said. "He's been there for awhile, he's a crafty young man, he's been with a bunch of different teams, he plays the game above the neck, he does some things that we like. I look forward to going and watching him play. He had a nice competition with Vince this week. Vince is kind of the raw athletic type of guy and we went with the crafty vet. I wouldn't be shocked if we saw Vince a little bit, maybe. I wouldn't be shocked if you see a little bit of Ronde Barber. Any of those guys can go back there and do some of those things for you dynamically.''
The 6-foot, 206-pound Lynch excels against the pass but defending the run never has been his strength.
"He played better this preseason versus the run and that's all you can really grade him on, what he's done last,'' Morris said. "He played decent. We know he's played well on special teams, he's been a very productive guy there for us. He's not a big, physical striker by any means. You're not talking about John Lynch here. We are talking about Corey Lynch. But he does display elite ball skills when he has an opportunity to catch the ball. He does display a knack to be around the ball. Our quarterback (Josh) Freeman hates him.''
As for Lee, he virtually has taken the right tackle spot away from Trueblood, who is a free agent at the end of the 2010 season.
"They both are playing well, I can't take that away from them,'' Morris said. "They both made some mistakes, which they always do. But right now James is playing really hard, he's been out there playing really well for us. We'll just have to see. Let him keep going.
"James is a pretty good pass protector when you talk about overall body of work as a player. He plays with a nice demeanor as well. I don't know if he gives you as much thump as Trueblood, but he definitely plays with a nice demeanor. The thump really comes from that group and how they play. You get different things from both guys.''
Morris said he's always embraced the challenge of having to coach up a new player.
"I look forward to these types of challenges,'' Morris said. "Most people get gloom and doom, but here at the Bucs, it's just how I've been my whole career, kind of, I look forward to those types of challenges and letting guys go out there and play.''