TAMPA — Going into Thursday’s final mandatory minicamp practice, the Bucs’ projected starting offensive line has yet to get any significant reps together this offseason.
Each of the five has missed at least some portion of offseason workouts. Most recently, center Ryan Jensen and left guard Ali Marpet have both been have been spectators during this minicamp. Mike Liedtke has filled in at center, and Earl Watford has substituted at guard.
Despite that lack of continuity, coach Bruce Arians said the unit has benefited from practicing against coordinator Todd Bowles’ defense this offseason.
"We should be really good," Arians said. "We've had one or two guys miss quite a bit, so the five guys haven't been out there together. You'd like to see some chemistry that way. But we have plenty of time when we put the pads on to get that done."
“They’re seeing every blitz known to man. They’re seeing it this spring. And you can see them starting to see it, talk where they’re coming from. It’s not easy to pick up. I’ve been through this with Todd before.”
Acoordinng to Sportrac, the Bucs have the third highest-paid offensive line in the league based on 2019 salary cap dollars. They’ve invested largely in the left side with tackle Donovan Smith with a three-year, $41.25-million deal in March. The team signed Jensen last March to a four-year, $42-million worth $22 million guaranteed and extended Marpet through 2023 with a six-year extension worth $54.125 million ($26.8 million guaranteed) in October.
That’s 24.8 percent of the team’s salary cap, according to Sportrac.
Despite that, the right side of the line is a question mark, Right tackle Demar Dotson, who turns 34 in October, dealt with a multitude of injuries last season and second-year player Alex Cappa is projected to be the starter at right guard despite playing sparingly during his rookie season. Caleb Benenoch, who struggled at right guard last season, has spent most of his time this offseason at right tackle. Backup center/guard Evan Smith is still recovering from hip surgery.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina @firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.