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)

Luke McCown, Jermaine Phillips and Gaines Adams are three of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the hot seat entering training camp

TAMPA — For some, a roster spot is at stake. For others, taking their games to a higher level is the expectation. For various reasons, at least a handful of Buccaneers players this fall find themselves under significant pressure to perform. Whether they step up or not will determine their roles or, in some cases, whether they make the team at all. When camp begins on Saturday, pay particular attention to these players as they try to make their cases.

QB Luke McCown

McCown often says he is his own worst critic. That may or may not be true these days because coaches are going to be scrutinizing McCown, expecting him to take ownership of the quarterback position this fall.

If he does, it'll be the first time in his career he has managed to score a permanent starting role. McCown has started just seven games in four seasons, four of those coming as a rookie in 2004 with the Browns.

The stakes are high for McCown. He's already 28, and if he does not achieve some semblance of permanency as a starter this season, it remains to be seen whether he ever gets the chance again — here or elsewhere. And remember, the long-term starter in Tampa is presumably Josh Freeman, this year's first-round pick.

LB Jermaine Phillips

Phillips has established himself as a fierce strong safety who is among the league's most physical at the position. He balances that with a knack for finding the football. And therein lies the problem. Phillips is now being asked to leave behind that role and assume another: as the starting weakside linebacker.

There isn't a question about Phillips' ability. What's in doubt is whether he can make a seamless transition, one that is rarely attempted. It's one thing to ask an incoming rookie to change positions. It's quite another to ask the same of a 30-year-old entering his eighth season.

The idea was suggested by coach Raheem Morris, and if the attempt fails, the Bucs have a major problem.

WR Dexter Jackson

For the purposes of this exercise, we'll avoid the debate as to whether Jackson was a good pick in the second round last season.

The fact is Jackson was the team's second-rounder, and the Bucs have gotten practically no contributions from him. He lost his kick- and punt-return jobs to undrafted prospect Clifton Smith in Week 8 (he was fortunate coaches didn't pull the plug sooner) and was deactivated the rest of the season.

On the surface, he seems like a long shot to make the final roster when you judge him on last year's performance. What he needs is an incredible training camp and preseason to give coaches reason to pause. They don't have a great deal of depth at receiver, but the fourth or fifth receivers must be big special-teams contributors to justify their roster spots (i.e. Brian Clark and Maurice Stovall). That area does not appear to be a strength of Jackson's.

DE Stylez White

White once was a wonderful story, a former Arena Football League player who came out of oblivion to lead the Bucs in sacks in 2007. But reality has hit home for White. He signed a new, incentive-laden contract last year, but his production slipped (from eight sacks to five).

It didn't help his case that he proved incapable of filling a hole at left defensive end in 2008, only adding to his reputation as a player whose weakness is defending the run.

And to compound his problems, White was involved in a motorcycle accident in June that sidelined him during the tail end of offseason workouts and the team's mandatory minicamp. That didn't exactly ingratiate him to Morris, who made an example of White in a team meeting over the summer. The drafting of Kyle Moore and the rise of Jimmy Wilkerson mean White could be looking at a very limited role unless he demands more snaps with his play.

DE Gaines Adams

Adams is a humble, good-natured kid who, perhaps unfairly, is judged by his status as the No. 4 overall pick in 2007. But the NFL is nothing if not unforgiving, and Adams can attest to this.

Coaches admitted Adams was placing too much pressure on himself last season in trying to live up to the standards of the man he essentially replaced, sackmaster Simeon Rice. His numbers remained virtually flat, with six sacks in 2007 and 6.5 last season.

But there's a belief defensive coordinator Jim Bates' new scheme will benefit Adams, who hasn't gotten much help from the team's average interior defensive line play the past two years.

But if the Bucs are going to increase their pass rush — and it's clear they must — then Adams will have to lead the charge.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com

Bucs training camp

When: Saturday-Aug. 19

Where: One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, except Saturday night, at Raymond James Stadium

Admission: Free and open to the public, but a ticket is required. For tickets, register for the One Buc Club at buccaneers.com. The team will e-mail information on how to select and print tickets. Tickets also will be available on practice days if all have not been distributed.

Et cetera: All practices are weather permitting and subject to change; go to buccaneers.com for updates.

Practice and games schedule

Saturday: 10:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m. (no tickets available); 6:45-8:45 p.m. (no ticket required)

Sunday: 2:20-4:20 p.m. (no tickets available)

Monday: 10:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m.; 4:55-6:50 p.m. (no tickets available for either session)

Tuesday: 2:35-3:45 p.m. (special teams)

Aug. 5: 10:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m.; 4:55-6:50 p.m.

Aug. 6: 2:30-4:20 p.m.

Aug. 7: 10:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m.; 4:45-
6 p.m. (special teams)

Aug. 8: 10:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m.; 4:55-6:50 p.m.

Aug. 10: 2:30-4:20 p.m.

Aug. 11: 10:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m.; 4:55-7 p.m.

Aug. 12: 2:30-4:20 p.m.

Aug. 13: 10:20-11:30 a.m. (special teams); 4:55-7 p.m.

Aug. 14: 8:55-9:50 a.m.

Aug. 15: at Titans, 8, Ch. 8

Aug. 17: 2:45-4:35 p.m.

Aug. 18: 10:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m.; 4:55-7 p.m.

Aug. 19: 2:30-4:20 p.m.

Aug. 22: at Jaguars, 7:30, Ch. 8

Aug. 27: vs. Dolphins, 8, Raymond James Stadium, Ch. 13

Sept. 4: vs. Texans, 7, Raymond James Stadium, Ch. 8

Luke McCown, Jermaine Phillips and Gaines Adams are three of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the hot seat entering training camp 07/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 7:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The homer that almost was hurts Rays in Tuesday's loss

    Blogs

     

  2. Former Buc Mike Glennon says right things about Bears QB situation

    Bucs

    Mike Glennon's go-to line about being recognized around town since becoming a Bear worked as well as ever, producing laughs.

    Quarterback Mike Glennon, shown last season with the Bucs before signing in the offseason with the Bears, is showing good humor about a looming competition in Chicago. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  4. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.