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Rookie linebacker Mason Foster excited about top spot on Tampa Bay Buccaneers depth chart

TAMPA — The Bucs' decision to put rookie LB Mason Foster first at middle linebacker on the their initial depth chart Monday came as little surprise to many.

That included Foster's main competition, LB Tyrone McKenzie, who said coaches told him a few days ago.

Foster, who is clearly the team's choice to succeed free agent departure Barrett Ruud, was pumped.

"It's exciting to be out there with the twos (second-teamers), let alone the ones," Foster said. "So to be out there with the ones, you're playing with guys I watched as a little kid."

McKenzie, a former USF star, took the news in stride. "The decision has been made," he said. "You respect it and do what you have to do for the team to get better."

Outside of Foster, there weren't any real surprises.

The starting receivers remain Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, but Dezmon Briscoe is climbing. The second-year player from Kansas who emerged late last season is the No. 2 flanker behind Benn. With Benn being held out of contact drills, it's likely he won't play Friday at Kansas City, meaning Briscoe could start.

Also on offense, Earnest Graham is still listed as the first-team fullback, though the club would like to make him more of a full-time halfback and hand the fullback duties to Erik Lorig. With Lorig slowed by a slight Achilles' tendon injury, that transition has been slowed.

While first-round pick Adrian Clayborn is the starting right defensive end, second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers is the No. 2 left end behind Michael Bennett.

Bennett, who came on strong late last year, said he feels good and is comfortable going into this season. But he points out "anything can change in a hurry."

"I'm just going to work as hard as I can," he said. "I'm not really worried about starting or being second."

Bowers has been limited because of his offseason knee surgery, but he has consistently taken numerous snaps with the first-team defense. He didn't participate in Monday's afternoon padded practice, but he said it was the first day he has really taken off, and it was a coaches' decision. Bowers said he will probably play Friday, and his goal is to start Week 1.

"Once it gets closer time to grind for Detroit, I'm going to be working myself back into that starting lineup," Bowers said.

Roy Miller remains a starting defensive tackle, with Brian Price, still working back into shape after a pelvic fracture, as his backup.

Micheal Spurlock is listed No. 1 at punt returner and kick returner, with Preston Parker No. 2 at both spots.

QB TALK: Coach Raheem Morris said QB Josh Freeman will likely play around 20 snaps Friday, roughly a quarter and a half, with the first-team offensive line in as long as Freeman is. Backup QB Josh Johnson will then play a quarter and a half before Rudy Carpenter finishes.

MISCELLANY: Rookie LB Nick Reveiz has been playing some fullback. … Though he was reportedly doing better, DT Gerald McCoy (rotator cuff strain) didn't participate in the padded practice and is day to day.

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

Rookie linebacker Mason Foster excited about top spot on Tampa Bay Buccaneers depth chart 08/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 4:41pm]
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