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)

Youth charges Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiving corps

TAMPA — By fielding the NFL's least-experienced roster in 2010 while squeezing out 10 wins, the Bucs gained a reputation for their youth movement.

But there's young, and then there's the Bucs' receiving corps. The nine receivers in this training camp have a combined nine credited NFL seasons.

They can be a loose group. Preston Parker has a knack for cracking on teammates' appearances. Sammie Stroughter rarely stops giggling. Yet, when appropriate, this group takes on a serious demeanor.

"We're not giving you anything around here," said Mike Williams, the unit's rookie sensation in 2010 with 65 receptions for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. "We're pushing each other. We're pushing every single day in practice. You have to earn it around here."

The youthful exuberance can fuel hours-long video game marathons, but it also is a chief reason these guys are consistently competitive. It's a trait they say is a reason many of them have had impressive showings not only in camp but also in games. They spend their practices attempting to one-up each other. When that results in performances coaches deem worthy of playing time, the newbies have taken advantage.

At different junctures last season, the Bucs played four rookie receivers and five with two years of experience or less.

Dezmon Briscoe spent the 2010 preseason with the Bengals, who had veterans Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens as receivers. The roles of such players are obvious from the start.

"I was drafted by Cincinnati," said Briscoe, in his second season, "and the older guys up there, they usually didn't take every snap as hard because they've been in the league awhile. Then I come here (after being released in September) and there's a bunch of young guys right out of college trying to earn a spot. That really motivates you to push yourself harder."

Said Micheal Spurlock, who at 28 joins 25-year-old Stroughter as the only Bucs receivers older than 24, "With a young group like this, every day you have to come out and be your best. A lot of times, (teams) keep four or five receivers. … Usually, about four guys are already locks."

Tampa Bay's is a different scenario. Williams figures to see plenty of balls again. Behind him, returning starter Arrelious Benn, also in his second season, has been limited by December knee surgery but is considered the No. 1 flanker. After that, there's nothing but opportunity.

There's the emerging Briscoe, who showed a taste of his abilities in the 2010 season finale (he had a 54-yard touchdown catch in a 23-13 win over the Saints). There's Stroughter, who isn't particularly fast, big or athletic but finds soft spots in zones. There's the potentially electrifying Parker, a onetime Seminole in his second season.

Not to be forgotten is Spurlock, who no longer can be described merely as a return man. Even Raymond Webber and Ed Gant, two undrafted free agents, are making things interesting.

Position coach Eric Yarber said different combinations of receivers might play from week to week. There may not be clearly defined roles, leaving those to be determined by what transpires in practices.

Briscoe is a good example. He spent five games on the active roster last season after being on the practice squad. Still, he has bypassed Parker (16 games on the active roster last season) on the depth chart and has been pushing for playing time with his camp performance.

"Young guys come here and know we're not scared to play them," Yarber said. "They know that if they put in the work, they'll get a chance. … They've worked their tails off."

If only the spirited atmosphere could affect others the way it did Williams last year.

"If it wasn't for that," he said, "there's no way I could have had the success that I had last year."

Youth charges Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiving corps 08/09/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 11:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft

    Preps

    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Illinois is recruiting a 10-year-old. Where will Lovie Smith be by the time the kid can sign?

    Blogs

    Today in ridiculous recruiting news, Lovie Smith's Illinois football team offered a scholarship to a 10-year-old.

  3. Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?

    Blogs

    After an off day Thursday, the Rays remain at Tropicana Field for a three-game series against the AL East rival Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

    Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman, left, has posted the highest ERA of his career this season, while catcher Welington Castillo, center, has slumped recently.
  4. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  5. Morning after off day: Rays ready for slumping O's

    Blogs

    The Rays will attempt tonight to do what so far has been impossible this season: climb four games above .500.

    The Rays expect Evan Longoria to be back in the lineup for tonight's game.