The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will kick off their 2012 regular season this Sunday when they will host their NFC South rivals, the Carolina Panthers, at Raymond James Stadium.
Here are three of the major changes Tampa Bay made to their depth chart this offseason that'll have an impact on the game.
The most watched and discussed position battle of the preseason for Tampa Bay was between rookie Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount for the starting running back job. When it was all said and done, Martin won out and will be the team's primary running back.
Head coach Greg Schiano says that Blount is disappointed but remains a team player and knows that Martin was the better player this offseason.
After drafting a running back in the first round of the 2012, and with Blount not doing as well in 2011, it was smart to let the two players battle it out this preseason, which allows the best player to be the starter going into the regular season.
Additionally, my dissatisfaction with Blount is well documented on Football Nation, and I am glad to see Martin getting a chance to be the “man” in Tampa Bay’s backfield.
Another important change to Tampa Bay’s offense this offseason happened when guard Davin Joseph was put on injured reserve following an injury he received in Tampa Bay’s preseason game against the New England Patriots.
While it is difficult to lose a Pro Bowl guard for the season, Schiano is taking it in stride, and saying he will have the right combination of players ready on the offensive line by Week 1.
Early on in training camp the team reported they had lost defensive end Da’Quan Bowers for at least part of the season due to injury. Part of the mission for Tampa Bay’s coaches during camp and the preseason was selecting who would become the starting defensive end in place of Bowers.
According to the latest depth chart posted on Buccaneers.com, Michael Bennett is listed at the starting defensive end position opposite of Adrian Clayborn.
Bennett originally played for the Seattle Seahawks but was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay in October 2009. Bennett played in 14 games in 2011, starting ten of them, and finished the season with 39 total tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
Tampa Bay did well this offseason signing high profile free agents, drafting a great rookie class, and playing well during preseason games.
The goal of training camps and preseason games is to put the best players on the field at the start of the regular season. Hopefully, the roster moves mentioned in this article and all the moves made in the offseason will catapult Tampa Bay back into being a legitimate powerhouse in the NFL.