2014 Bucs Camp Preview: Offensive Line
LEADER OF THE PACK: C Evan Dietrich-Smith
Dietrich-Smith signed with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent from Green Bay in March. Spending the last several years protecting Aaron Rodgers and being around a winning culture in Green Bay should rub off well. Dietrich-Smith has played multiple positions across the offensive line throughout his pro and college career. He brings knowledge and leadership to a unit that will need to click on all cylinders in order to be successful.
ALL EYES ON: T Anthony Collins
Collins was brought in to protect Josh McCown’s blind side. The seven-year veteran out of Kansas played both left and right tackle last season in Cincinnati, but is projected to start at left tackle. Collins did not commit a single holding penalty or allow a sack in 2013. Now he gets the opportunity to start at the most demanding offensive line position. He’ll be tested well in camp against his fellow former-Bengal, defensive end Michael Johnson.
X-FACTOR: G Carl Nicks
This could be the feel good story of camp, or the big let down of camp. Carl Nicks is still recovering from foot surgery on his toe due to the MRSA infection that spread in the Buccaneers locker room last season. He had already come off surgery the year before, and most likely will never be 100% the rest of his career. That being said, Tampa Bay kept him. They believe Nicks can return to his days in New Orleans that helped bring the Saints a championship. Regardless, anticipation and speculation has gone on long enough. Come Friday July 25th, we should have an answer on Nicks’ future.
UP FOR GRABS: Right tackle & Right Guard
If Carl Nicks is healthy and the free-agent acquisitions do their part, the left side of the line will be solid. The questions would then come on the right side. Demar Dotson has been given some early starting reps at right tackle, and Patrick Omameh the same at right guard. Jamon Meredith got playing time last year, and can play both guard and tackle giving him versatility. And don’t forget about draft picks Kadeem Edwards and Kevin Pamphile. A big determining factor will be their physicality when the pads are finally on.
CAMP OBJECTIVE: Be Ready To Move
There are many adjectives and verbs to describe what we might see in Jeff Tedford’s offense, one of which is “quick.” That will be a must for the offensive line. They will have to fire off the ball in the run and quick passing game, while holding strong in protecting Josh McCown. Athleticism and precision in their assignments will be a big emphasis with this unit.