Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

New safety Sean Jones may eventually challenge for Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting spot

TAMPA — Back when the Bucs were exploring signing then-free agent safety Sean Jones, defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake cued up footage of the potential addition.

Just the first few clips of Jones in action against the Giants was enough to make a compelling case to sign him.

"The first few clips I saw was him blowing down (Brandon) Jacobs," Lake said, referring to New York's massive 264-pound running back. "I mean, blowing him down — by himself. We've played the Giants here before and our whole team was dragging behind that guy."

You might not have a second chance to make a first impression, but in this case, there was no need.

Jones, who started nine games for the Eagles last season, was signed to a two-year contract in March to, at a minimum, improve the depth at his position or possibly unseat Sabby Piscitelli as the starting strong safety.

In fact, the very areas where Piscitelli, 26, struggled last season — making sure tackles and finding the football — are areas in which Jones, 28, excels. He is regarded as physical (6-1, 220 pounds) and menacing, a good tackler willing to mix things up near the line of scrimmage. And Jones is known for being around the football; his 16 interceptions in the past four seasons are tied for fourth among safeties during that time frame.

"He's a Tampa 2 player," Lake said. "What I mean by that is he's a ball hawk, and he's a physical guy. He fits the part."

"Tampa is a great fit for me," Jones said.

No one on the coaching staff plans to hand him a starting job. But the process of earning it is under way. Jones was one of the players the coaches were most interested in observing as the team began official offseason practices this week.

Jones shared practice reps with Piscitelli but figures he's going to play a pivotal role no matter who wins the job. Jones says he hopes to win the job after starting for 53 of his past 59 games. Last season in Philadelphia, he came off the bench behind Macho Harris for the first six games, then became the starter. Jones was considered stouter against the run while Harris was quicker in the open field.

"Right now, they have us rotating with the (starters)," said Jones, a 2004 second-round pick of the Browns who moved on to the Eagles last season. "It's a good competition. But if I worry about myself and just go out there and do what I can do, it's going to (mean) great things for me.

"It's still a team effort, so everybody's going to play no matter who is the starter. Everybody is going to get their shot to help this team get a win."

The Bucs are talking about employing a rotation at safety, presumably using Jones, Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson to keep players fresh. It's a tactic the team used when coach Raheem Morris was the defensive backs coach.

The competition will heat up once Jones learns the Tampa Bay defense. He is still acclimating to the terminology but has some familiarity with the scheme, which resembles the one he played in with the Browns.

"We ran a lot of this kind of defense in Cleveland in my first five years," he said. "It's pretty much the same thing. There's a lot of parallels. I'm very comfortable with it."

Said Morris: "He has his Rosetta Stone out right now translating into our language. It's working for him. As soon as he finishes that (learning) process, we might see a pretty good player."

Watching Jones with the entire defense for the first time, Morris gave an early assessment.

"You see why Sean was one of those guys who (ranks high) in interceptions because of his ball awareness, ball skills and eye control," he said. "He does so many of those things well."

It's early, and coaches remain coy when talking about Jones. But Lake has his initial impressions stuck in his head.

After watching Jones on video, what were Lake's first thoughts?

"I want that type of player on my team."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at

New safety Sean Jones may eventually challenge for Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting spot 05/19/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 8:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger


    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season


    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium


    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater


    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    Corey Dickerson is doing everything he can to garner All-Star votes heading into tonight's voting cutoff, going into play Wednesday leading the AL with 101 hits and rapping two more his first two times up, and scoring two more runs.