2014 Bucs Camp Preview: Safeties
LEADER OF THE PACK: Dashon Goldson
“The Hawk” as they call him, is the enforcer of the group for his leadership and hard-hitting play. While Goldson had trouble with the helmet-to-helmet hits last year which cost him a game and some money, he still brings an intimidating presence the Bucs value in the middle of the field. He is coming off off-season ankle surgery and is expected to return on time for camp. As long as he’s healthy and has sured up his strike zone, expect a huge year from Goldson.
ALL EYES ON: Mark Barron
The 2012 Buccaneers draft class has the look of an all-time best. Doug Martin had a great rookie year, and Lavonte David is turning into a premiere NFL linebacker. And yet the first selection Tampa Bay made at 7th overall was Mark Barron. He hasn’t played bad per say, but he hasn’t made the impact of a Top 10 overall pick yet. Barron has all the tools, he hits hard, can cover ground, and is solid against the run. He has been suspect in the deep passing game though, which is a must-have quality at the safety position. If he can fix it, he’ll be a Pro Bowler before you know it.
X-FACTOR: Major Wright
Wright is the wild card of this group. He played his first 4 seasons with the Chicago Bears, 3 of those with head coach Lovie Smith. Last season was very productive for the former Florida Gator, with 100 combined tackles along with 2 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. He’s an immediate plug and place safety in case Goldson or Barron are hurt. Lovie Smith wouldn’t have brought Wright in if he didn’t think he was reliable. Keith Tandy will have to step his game up.
CAMP OBJECTIVE: Don’t Get Beat Deep
This group of safeties are some of the hardest hitting in the NFL. Making them a fearsome bunch to deal with coming down in the box in the run game or across the middle in the passing game. But the Bucs have had problems defending the deep ball the past couple years. There haven’t been big stops when they’ve needed to make them, and the deep ball has been of primary concern. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton can all sling it downfield. This should be a big focus in training camp that is critical to the Tampa’s success this season.