The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released their first depth chart of the season on Monday and it features two rookie starters on defense and four running backs with a grand total of two NFL carries behind starting running back LeGarrette Blount.
On the inital depth chart, rookies Mason Foster and Adrian Clayborn are listed as the starting middle linebacker and right defensive end. Another rookie, second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers, is No. 2 at left defensive end behind Michael Bennett.
Blount, the second-year running back signed by the Bucs as an undrafted free agent after he was released by Tennessee, gained 1,007 yards in 13 games as a rookie in 2010, seven as the starter.
If the current depth chart holds to form, Tampa Bay is counting on another player to emerge at that position the was Blount did last year. Third-year pro Kregg Lumpkin had just one carry for no yards in 11 games with the Bucs last year, but he's listed as Blount's backup. He also had one carry as a rookie for Green Bay in 2009.
Offensive coordinator Greg Olsen has said he would like veteran Earnest Graham to move from fullback back to running back, where he likely would inherit the third-down specialist role, but as of now rookies Allen Bradford (USC), Mossis Madu (Oklahoma) and Armando Allen (Notre Dame) fill out the running back depth chart.
Graham is entering his eigth year in the NFL, all with Tampa Bay, and moved to fullback last season. His best year as a running back came in 2007, when he ran for 898 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 49 passes for 324 yards.
Graham still is the number one fullback on the depth chart, but the Bucs are hoping second-year pro Erik Lorig can earn the top spot. Lorig is a converted defensive end and rookie Nick Reveiz, a linebacker in college, also has been practicing at fullback.
At middle linebacker, Mason Foster inched ahead of second-year pro Tyrone McKenzie during workouts last week, but Bucs coach Raheem Morris said that battle will be decided during the preseason games. Both are vying to replace the departed Barrett Ruud as the defensive play-caller.
What should the Bucs be most concerned about, if they are concerned at all, from the roster as reflected by the initial depth chart? Lack of proven depth at both running back and fullback? Inexperience at middle linebacker? The absence of veterans along the defensive line? Something else?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers depth chart – Aug. 8
WR – Mike Williams, Sammie Stroughter, Micheal Spurlock, Ed Gant, Raymond Webber
LT – Donald Penn, Demar Dotson, Cory Brandon
LG – Ted Larsen, Brandon Carter, Marc Dile
C – Jeff Faine, Jeremy Zuttah, Matt Allen
RG – Davin Joseph, Derek Hardman, Thomas Claiborne
RT – Jeremy Trueblood, James Lee, Will Barker
TE – Kellen Winslow, Luke Stocker, Daniel Hardy, Ryan Purvis, Nathan Overbay, Jose Cruz
WR – Arrelious Benn, Dezmon Briscoe, Preston Parker, Jock Sanders, Detron Lewis
QB – Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson, Rudy Carpenter, Mike Coughlin, Jonathan Crompton
RB – LeGarrette Blount, Kregg Lumpkin, Allen Bradford, Mossis Madu, Armando Allen
FB – Earnest Graham, Erik Lorig, Rendrick Taylor, Nick Reveiz
LDE – Michael Bennett, Da'Quan Bowers, Kyle Moore, Alex Magee
DT – Gerald McCoy, Frank Okam, E.J. Wilson
DT – Roy Miller, Brian Price, Al Woods
RDE – Adrian Clayborn, Tim Crowder, George Johnson, Brandon Gilbeaux
SLB – Quincy Black, Dekoda Watson, Brandon Heath
MLB – Mason Foster, Tyrone McKenzie, Derrell Smith
WLB – Geno Hayes, Adam Hayward, Simoni Lawrence, Victor Aiyewa
LCB – Aqib Talib, Myron Lewis, DJ Johnson, Vince Anderson
RCB – Ronde Barber, E.J. Biggers, Anthony Gaitor, Elbert Mack
SS – Sean Jones, Corey Lynch, Dominique Harris, Devin Holland
FS – Cody Grimm, Larry Asante, Ahmad Black
P – Michael Koenen, Robert Malone
PK – Connor Barth, Jacob Rogers
KO – Michael Koenen, Connor Barth
H – Michael Koenen, Robert Malone
LS – Christian Yount
PR – Micheal Spurlock, Preston Parker, Sammie Stroughter