Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Five returning Bucs who might be fighting for jobs

TAMPA — There are so many new faces for the Bucs that players from last year's team might feel like they've walked into the wrong locker room when they report to training camp Thursday.

Coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht made sweeping changes with the Bucs coming off a 4-12 season. Most of the additions came on offense, which ranked last in the NFL in 2013. A number of borderline prospects survived the initial purge, but there's still plenty of cutting to do to reach the 53-man roster.

Injuries, a lack of production, an inflated salary or a combination of all three can send any player packing. No job is safe this time of year, but some players are more vulnerable than others. Here are five Bucs who could use a good showing in August to ensure they still have a nameplate over their locker in September.

DE Da'Quan Bowers: A year ago, Bowers was all but handed a starting job at defensive end but he couldn't take it. He came to training camp a few pounds overweight and struggled with the heat. Entering his fourth pro season, Bowers faces an uphill climb to secure a roster spot. The Bucs have added defensive line help with free agents Michael Johnson and Clinton McDonald. Adrian Clayborn moves to Bowers' left side and second-year pro William Gholston finished '13 strong. Bowers has only 5½ career sacks and last season was his worst, with seven tackles and one sack in 13 games.

TE Luke Stocker: A fourth-round pick from Tennessee in 2011, Stocker has never been able to avoid the injury bug. He strained a calf muscle preparing for the conditioning run last year and played two games before a hip injury ended his season. He has 28 career receptions entering his fourth year and the team is no longer waiting for him to develop. It signed Giants free agent Brandon Myers in the offseason and drafted Washington tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins in the second round. Moreover, Tim Wright exploded onto the scene last season with 54 catches, five for touchdowns. But the lack of a pure blocking tight end makes Stoker valuable.

G Carl Nicks: The Pro Bowl guard has played nine games in two years. That's the most damning thing that can be said for Nicks, who is among the league's most dominant guards when healthy. But a foot injury, compounded by surgery as a result of MRSA, has led to nerve damage. Nicks insisted he will be ready for training camp, but there's reason for skepticism. Six million dollars of his '14 salary is guaranteed, so the team will give him every chance to get back, even if it means placing him on the physically unable to perform list.

RB Bobby Rainey: Three players rushed for more than 500 yards for the team last season, including Rainey, who was claimed off waivers from the Browns. Season-ending injuries to Doug Martin (shoulder) and Mike James (ankle) gave the 5-foot-8 Rainey a chance to shine. He rushed for 127 yards in a win over Buffalo. But with the addition of rookie Charles Sims, Rainey or James could get caught in a numbers game.

S Kelcie McCray: Last season, after being claimed off waivers from the Dolphins, the safety from Arkansas State was pressed into service after Dashon Goldson's suspension and injuries. McCray played 101 snaps on defense and had a huge game in a win over the Lions, recovering a fumble and dislodging the football from receiver Calvin Johnson near the goal line to seal the victory. But the Bucs have added former Bears safety Major Wright and cornerback D.J. Moore, who can also play on the back end in a crunch.

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com and listen from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. Follow @NFLStroud.

Five returning Bucs who might be fighting for jobs 07/21/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2014 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion

    Golf

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.