Previewing the Buccaneer receivers for 2010
This is the time of year when every player has potential and every coach has high hopes for a team's success. When past failures are forgotten, the glass is always half full and expectation and anticipation can exceed reality. And then the season usually starts and reality takes over.
The Buccaneers have been looking for a really good receiving combination since the Super Bowl duo of Keyshawn and Keenan. Before that you have to go back to Kevin House and Gerald Carter for a duo who really could scare a defense.
But based on 2009, forget a duo, how about just one receiver who could do that? Antonio Bryant has taken his huge salary, ego and dodgy hamstrings to Cincinnati where all great receivers go to mouth off and disappear, leaving the Buccaneers with a whole bunch of potential.
And potential is not worth a damn until actual results start appearing ladies and gentlemen so when rookies Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams record their first 100-yard games, then we can start talking about them in real terms.
Right now Williams is ahead of Benn in the pecking order but it is a rare rookie receiver who hits the ground running in the NFL these days. The last one the Bucs had was .... err ... some bloke called Clayton in 2004.
Sammie Stroughter was the rookie surprise of 2009 but still had only an average of two catches a game. Again potential potential potential. And the other so-called hope at the wide out position is trade acquisition Reggie Brown who had fallen so far down the Eagle pecking order, he was backing up Rocky Balboa.
Micheal Spurlock is a franchise trivia answer not a potential receiving option, and the likes of Chris Brooks, Terrence Nunn and Preston Parker are camp fodder. Which just leaves veteran Maurice Stovall who has been a good special teamer and someone full of potential for the past five years.
So I would love to be optimistic here but you have to go past the glass half-full limit and start to see the dregs being worthwhile drinking. It takes more than just good hands to play receiver in the NFL these days with route adjustments, patterns that need to be more precise, and a more physical and mental challenge than even the toughest college game could ever think of throwing up.
I expect the two rookies, Brown, Stovall and Clayton to be the final five on the roster with Parker making the practice squad if he clears waivers. And if the likes of a Torry Holt is waived, a veteran signing before opening day would not go amiss at all to help Josh Freeman out in his development.
You've been great - enjoy Berlin.
Paul Stewart, TBO.com, August 2010