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Five Bucs newcomers to watch


In the NFL, turnover is a way of life. Rosters remain in a state of perpetual transition.

This offseason, many of the Bucs' moves are evidence of this fact. When training camp opens Thursday, there will be new faces galore.

Here are several key newcomers to Tampa Bay as the 2013 season kicks off:

S Dashon Goldson

The Bucs tend to take chances on defense, often employing blitzes that leave behind a single high safety.

Last season, that safety often was 37-year-old Ronde Barber, playing a new position in the final year of his career. In 2013, that last line of defense will be Goldson, 29, an All-Pro in his prime.

The Bucs expressed interest in trading for Goldson in 2012 when he was in the midst of a contract dispute with the 49ers. That didn't work out, but the Bucs landed him in March after making him among their top free agent targets.

Tampa Bay handed Goldson a hefty $41 million contract, but with good reason. Goldson was one of the best players available on the market this offseason. Along with former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, he will attempt to turn the Bucs' biggest weakness in 2012, the secondary, into a strength.

Goldson left the veteran-laden 49ers to join a defense that needs more leaders. And his willingness to become one has been evident.

"That's something that's been in me since I was young," Goldson said. "I was always a motivating guy. I was always looking at myself as a guy who would try to lead out there. I know it's a young crowd that we have here, and I just want to help out and share my experiences."

QB Mike Glennon

Coach Greg Schiano said he wanted competition, and maybe Glennon can provide that. But more than likely the third-round draft pick is destined to be a backup in the short term.

In training camp, and in preseason games, Glennon will get both opportunity and close scrutiny. Can the North Carolina State product, regarded for his intelligence, grasp the Bucs' intricate offense quickly? Can he adjust to the increase in playing speed at the NFL level?

If nothing else, Glennon, 23, enters camp with confidence.

"I feel way ahead of where I was at the beginning of (offseason workouts)," Glennon said. "I know what's going on out here. I still have a long way to go, but over the last few weeks, when I was at home, I had a chance to go back and kind of study the playbook a little more and I feel a lot more comfortable already. But I know I have a long way to go.

"Right now, I feel like I have a general grasp of our offense. I have to get the details. That's what I'm going to try to accomplish during this preseason, knowing the details and knowing what each of the 11 guys is going to be doing on every play."

He might not play a single snap in a regular-season game, but given his position and the unstable contract situation of starting quarterback Josh Freeman, Glennon is someone to watch.

NT Akeem Spence

Early in training camp, players will don full pads for the first time, and reputations will begin to be earned.

And Spence can't wait.

"You're going to have people out here competing for jobs, everybody going full speed trying to show Coach why they deserve the job and everybody's trying to make that 53," he said, referring to the 53-man final roster.

"On the first day we put the pads on, it's going to be intense. You're going to scratch, claw, bust somebody's butt — do whatever you have to do to stay where you're at."

Spence, the 21-year-old fourth-round pick from Illinois, is aiming higher than a mere roster spot. He has a legitimate chance to win the starting nose tackle job, and said Schiano already has told him as much.

But starting jobs aren't promised; they're earned. And Spence, a former champion weightlifter, will have to fend off veterans Gary Gibson and Derek Landri.

TE Tom Crabtree

When a team signs Goldson and acquires Revis in the same offseason, the arrival of a little-used tight end won't grab many headlines.

So, fans may have missed the signing of former Packers tight end Crabtree, 27. But they are likely to learn and see more of him soon, because he will be competing for playing time with Luke Stocker and a group of young, unproven prospects.

Crabtree has just 18 receptions in three seasons, in part because Green Bay's depth at tight end relegated him to mostly a special teams role.

There's more opportunity in Tampa Bay, but Crabtree makes no assumptions.

"Make the team; that's my goal," he said. "I'm not one to come in and say, 'I want to be the starter' or 'I want to be the No. 2 guy.' I want to come in and, if my role on this team is playing on kick-return (team), if my role on this team is catching a bunch of balls, whatever it is, I want to do that and find a way to help the team win."

CB Johnthan Banks

There might come a time soon when Revis and Banks, the Bucs' second-round draft pick, clearly are the team's top two cornerbacks. It's up to Banks, 23, to determine whether that time is now, or later.

Banks, from Mississippi State, is under increased pressure after veteran Eric Wright was traded to the 49ers on Friday. But with a starting cornerback slot available, the Bucs won't be afraid to fast-track Banks into that role.

Schiano said Banks looked like a rookie during offseason workouts — some good, some bad — but as Banks' comfort level grows, his playmaking should begin to show.

Five Bucs newcomers to watch 07/21/13 [Last modified: Sunday, July 21, 2013 8:53pm]
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