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)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers receivers ensnared in the quarterback battle as well as their own drama.

TAMPA — You are Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown, and your entire future is in someone else's hands.

It's one preseason game, maybe three series, as few as 12 plays, to decide who will become the Bucs' starting quarterback.

Every pass you throw tonight against the Dolphins is a career egg toss, and you have to trust the guy on the receiving end will handle it with care.

So how confident are you in Maurice Stovall, Brian Clark and Sammie Stroughter?

Together, they have 25 career receptions in a combined six NFL seasons.

Antonio Bryant is out until Sept. 13 recovering from a meniscus tear in his knee. Michael Clayton came out of his break on a route last week at Jacksonville and tweaked his hamstring.

So Mo, B.C. and the rookie could hold the entire QB race in their hands.

"We understand the importance of the race at quarterback," Clark said. "But we have to do our jobs as well. We want to help the quarterbacks, but you've got to earn a job, too."

Coach Raheem Morris says injuries to his starting receivers have provided a level playing field for Leftwich and McCown.

"The quarterbacks are working with the same wide receivers, and we'll have a nice, equal battle to see what we can do," he said.

There's a lot at stake for the wideouts, too. All have had good moments during the preseason. Clark, 25, made a nice adjustment to a Leftwich pass thrown slightly behind him for a touchdown in the opener at Tennessee.

Last week at Jacksonville, Stroughter, 23, provided McCown with great field position after a 75-yard kickoff return, setting up a touchdown. Then the rookie from Oregon State scored on a 9-yard pass that McCown threaded between two defenders.

Stovall, 24, who has been plagued by injuries, led the Bucs with five catches for 42 yards Saturday.

Clark, however, took a step back, dropping two passes, including one on third down that could have extended a drive for Leftwich.

"We've got who we've got," receivers coach Richard Mann said. "My thing is to get them to the point where they understand what to do so when the time comes they'll perform. That's why I've always tried to coach everybody, because sooner or later they might have to play.

"(Clark) dropped that one ball, but he made a good catch earlier with a guy bearing down on him. Then, in a wide-open space, he drops one. That's when the eyes get too big. He's in a wide-open space and he saw (an opportunity) to run after the catch. That's a no-no."

Clark, a former Chamberlain High standout who enters his fourth NFL season with five career receptions, is looking to bounce back against the Dolphins.

"I had a terrible week last week," he said. "I had a dropped ball that's extremely uncharacteristic of me, regardless of what people might say. Those are situations they're looking for guys to step up.

"At the same time, it's bouncing back, because we're men, we're human. We're not perfect, and we're going to make mistakes. But who's going to be the guy that bounces back?"

Morris says Stroughter, a seventh-round pick, has been the most consistent among the receivers battling for a roster spot — a list that includes Cortez Hankton, Dexter Jackson, Mario Urrutia and Kelly Campbell.

"Coach Mann always says people have a funny way of remembering the last thing that they've seen," Clark said. "I have two more preseason games to show why I belong on this team."

And tonight, the great quarterback debate may be in his hands.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers receivers ensnared in the quarterback battle as well as their own drama. 08/26/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends


    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.