Tampa Bay Buccaneers seek clarity at nose tackle

Nose tackle Roy Miller (90), battling Carl Nicks, gets most of the first-team snaps now, but a clear No. 1 will take some time.
Nose tackle Roy Miller (90), battling Carl Nicks, gets most of the first-team snaps now, but a clear No. 1 will take some time.
Published Aug. 3, 2012

TAMPA — The Bucs seem to have a fairly good handle on most of their defensive starters. But at nose tackle, especially in light of last week's trade of Brian Price to the Bears, the Bucs remain noncommittal.

Roy Miller, who came off the bench in 2011, is taking most of the first-team snaps, something that is very much subject to change.

Gary Gibson, an offseason signing from the Rams, also is in the mix. To a lesser extent, Amobi Okoye, a free agent from the Bears, is a factor, though he is more likely to play on passing downs.

The Bucs do know they're going to ride Gerald McCoy at under tackle. Figuring out who plays beside him, however, will come later.

"Gerald, he's got the ability to be an elite guy with the (quickness) and the motor he plays with," coach Greg Schiano said. "Then we have to figure out how we're going to deal with the other position and how we're going to create depth (behind McCoy).

"As we work through it, Gary, Roy, Amobi and then whoever else we throw into that mix, it's just going to be competition. Whoever performs the best will get the bigger chunk."

Gibson has missed some practice time with an injury. Okoye missed Thursday and could be out another day or so. The decision probably will wait until after the team grades the players in preseason games, which start Aug. 10 against Miami.

INJURY REPORT: A full week into training camp, the team is dealing with a handful of apparently minor injuries.

SS Mark Barron, the draft's seventh overall pick, was among those not fully participating in practice because of a toe injury, said Schiano, who believes Barron will be okay.

Okoye did not participate, Schiano said, because he's resting his knee after offseason surgery. The situation with DE Michael Bennett is less clear. Bennett, who left practice early Wednesday, was on the sideline but did not participate for reasons that are unclear.

"I think Mike's going to be okay," Schiano said. "I'm not really sure what to call it. He just didn't feel well, and we're just going to be safe there. We'll get him back in a couple of days."

The team did not allow Bennett to speak with reporters.

FS Ronde Barber took most of Thursday off to rest.

"Do you know how old I am?" the 37-year-old said jokingly.

SLIMMER BLOUNT? Schiano said RB LeGarrette Blount might be listed at the same weight he was last season, but that figure likely wasn't accurate until now.

"I think he definitely took some weight off," Schiano said. "If he was 247 in the program, I think he was a little more than that in reality last year. I think what he has done is gotten himself in better shape. I think he's a better player in the condition he's in right now."