Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Forced to play left tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Demar Dotson tries to catch on quickly

TAMPA — Demar Dotson's experience level at left tackle isn't extensive. In fact, he has almost no history at the position.

But that's quickly changing, with Dotson consistently taking the first-team snaps in place of injured Pro Bowl selection Donald Penn (calf) during the first four days of Bucs camp. Having played right tackle almost exclusively in the past, Dotson is preparing to potentially enter the preseason as QB Josh Freeman's blind side protector.

Dotson did a limited amount of offseason left tackle work on his own, and the former basketball player at Southern Miss has nimble feet and good athleticism.

But whether that adequately prepares him to face accomplished pass rushers such as Miami's Cameron Wake, who he could face in the preseason opener, is another matter.

"It is a big leap," Dotson said. "Skill-wise, I have quick feet and I can move and I can stay in front of guys, but it's a lot more than that. If you just stayed in front of people and moved your feet, that won't get it done. It takes a whole lot more than that, but I'm working at it every day. The more chances I get to play, the more snaps I get and the more I work with the team, the better I get."

Experience at left tackle isn't the only thing Dotson's short on. He has played very little football compared to his teammates. Dotson played one year of defensive line at Southern Miss after his basketball eligibility ended.

The Bucs took a chance on him as an offensive tackle, and nearly four years later, he's still here, trying to make his mark.

"For me, everything is new," said Dotson, 26. "I'm a fourth-year guy, but experience-wise, I have less experience than the whole offensive-line room. Most of these guys come in and have been playing offensive line for 10 years. I come in and I've only been playing for four. I learn from anybody. I learn from rookies, coaches, everybody."

WRIGHT WATCH: With CB E.J. Biggers out for weeks with a foot injury, the depth in the secondary has already taken a hit.

So it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bucs be particularly cautious about whatever physical issue is bothering starting CB Eric Wright, who didn't finish practice Monday because of an undisclosed injury. Wright has seemingly been bothered by a lower-body issue for several days, leaving practice early on Saturday, too.

He returned Sunday and started Monday's practice with the first team, only to give way to Anthony Gaitor, Myron Lewis and Leonard Johnson.

Wright didn't comment specifically, saying only that, "It's training camp. I'm working. I'm good."

Meanwhile coach Greg Schiano said, "I think he's okay. It's something small probably."

Wright signed in March, agreeing to a five-year, $37 million contract. His addition has allowed the move of longtime CB Ronde Barber to safety.

OVER-UNDER: WR Tiquan Underwood, on his third team in four NFL seasons since coming out of Rutgers, hopes he can stick with the Bucs.

And Schiano, Underwood's college coach, likes the way the 6-foot-1, 184-pound receiver can stretch the field.

"He's had a good first four days of camp, he's made some big plays — some chunk plays — which are critical in offensive football," Schiano said. "Four days doesn't a camp make, but you've got to have the first four before you can have the second. Right now, he's off to a good start."

Underwood, 25, knows the "more you can do the better," and is seeing his confidence grow.

"Just getting more comfortable with the playbook, and when you're comfortable and know what you're doing, you can play faster," Underwood said. "I'm just trying to do that and show the coaches they can depend on me."

MISCELLANY: Schiano said the effort was outstanding in Monday's practice, the best in four days of camp. He said he likes the mix of youth and experience in the defensive backfield. "I think that's the position that takes the longest to jell," Schiano said. "But they're working their tails off, and everyday making improvement. If we can keep doing that, we'll get there."

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