Much of the hoopla this off-season centered on Josh Freeman and the current draft class. With the Bucs scheduled to take to the practice fields at One Buc Place this week for another round of OTAs and so many question marks abound on the defensive side of the ball. We’ll take a look at the forgotten six, as in six defensive players who are currently riding the roster bubble but could be fighting for extended playing time or at the very least could become role players in the coming season.
- DE Maurice Evans – Evans was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Giants in 2009 after posting 17.5 sacks during a three year collegiate career at Penn State. Evans flashed potential in the pre-season for the Giants but failed to make their 53-man roster. Signed to the Bucs practice squad twice and a futures contract in the off-season don’t be surprised if he emerges as a candidate to be the back-up right defensive end behind Stylez G White.
- LB Lee Robinson – The biggest linebacker on the roster at 6-foot-2, 256-pounds Robinson represents size in the middle of a smallish defensive front seven. Robinson spent a considerable amount of time on the practice squad in ’09 learning the defense and honing his skills. With a decent training camp and pre-season he could push Niko Koutouvides for the right to backup Barrett Ruud in the middle.
- DT Dre Moore – After spending the majority of the past two years as little more then an after thought, after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 draft out of Maryland. Moore showed some flashes late last season as a reserve in spot duty. With the release of Chris Hovan and the team looking to go with youth Moore could make Ryan Sims expendable if he picks up where he left off last season.
- CB E.J. Biggers – Biggers created some buzz in training camp and the pre-season before landing on injured reserve. With the team likely to keep five corners he’ll be battling for the fourth or fifth corner spot with the likes of Elbert Mack, Brandon Anderson and Derrick Roberson. Considering the team drafted Biggers and Mack has actually produced some what in the NFL he’s got a legitimate chance to see the field in ’10.
- LB Angelo Crowell – After signing as a free agent in ’09 Crowell was lost for the season and is two years removed from a knee injury that cost him the 2008 season. Without playing in over two years rust and instincts could be a huge hurdle for the veteran. Crowell will be in a fight for his NFL life with Dekoda Watson on the strong side. But depending on how he re-acclimates he could be switched to middle linebacker if the Bucs feel his skills are better suited in the middle.
- DE Michael X. Bennett – Bennett flashed in his brief stint with the Bucs in ’09 before landing on I.R. the former Texas A&M Aggie is blessed with size and athleticism and could be a viable swing defensive end because of his length and strength but is best suited for left defensive end based on his strong upper body and stout run defense. Bennett has enough upside he could be battling Tim Crowder for one of the backup defense ends spots.
With depth being a major concern across the board on defense this years training camp and pre-season should offer some excitement as players will be battling for several key reserve roles.