Starter or not, Stroughter will be slot receiver
The Bucs have made it clear that WR Sammie Stroughter is in the lead for the second starting wide receiver spot, opposite rookie Mike Williams.
But in any case, coach Raheem Morris said Stroughter will be used in the slot, where his attributes can be best utilized. And if Stroughter does indeed start, the Bucs will spot his playing time, including at kick returner, to keep him healthy and fresh.
Stroughter, at 5-10, 189 pounds, may not have a lot of size. But Morris thinks he fits well in the slot. He points out Stroughter's quickness off the line, and his toughness.
"Inside that slot, it takes a little bit of a different man, it takes a different guy," Morris said. "It takes a guy with a big heart to go in there and who is not afraid."
Morris made it clear Stroughter isn't Panthers Pro Bowler Steve Smith right now, but compared the two in terms of what Smith is able to do at his size (5-9, 185) - and what Stroughter may be able to do in the future.
"Steve Smith is a man, and I'm not saying Sammie is that guy yet, but I'm hopeful he can mature into a guy like that, or come along like that," Morris said.
If Stroughter is the slot receiver, guys like Reggie Brown and Maurice Stovall are receivers Morris could chose from to be the other wideout. And Morris said he plans to spot Stroughter to give him a rest, meaning guys like Brown could go in there on first or second down, etc.
Stroughter, a seventh-round pick in 2009, has also proved to be a potentially dynamic kick returner. But especially if Stroughter starts, he may only return punts or kick in certain situations, helping to take some wear and tear off his body.
"It's kind of like the Reggie Bush theory of the Saints," Morris said. "He doesn't take every punt back. But when it is a big one, and when we have an opportunity to have a return for a red zone punt, you'll see Reggie Bush go back there...You kind of have to spot play Sammie a little bit in some of those roles to keep all his fine attributes that he does have."
- JOE SMITH