Three days into an abbreviated training camp and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already managed to check off a couple of vital items of importance.
Tampa Bay held on to three members of an offensive line that allowed the tenth-fewest sacks in the league a season ago. Staying in the pewter and red for the foreseeable future are guard Davin Joseph and tackles Jeremy Trueblood and James Lee.
Noted as one of the team’s vocal leaders in the clubhouse, Joseph was a first round pick in 2006. He has started 67 games as a Buccaneer and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008. The contract numbers: seven years, $53 million, of which $19 million is guaranteed.
Trueblood, who was the team’s second round pick in the same 2006 draft, has started 68 games mostly alongside Joseph. Although he lost his starting job midway through the 2010 season, Trueblood provides reliable depth and experience to the line. Terms of the deal were not announced.
Third-year pro, Lee, replaced Trueblood atop the depth chart before the eighth game of last season. Lee should once vie for the starting nod this season.
The first new acquisition outside of the draft came in the form of a former division rival. Punter Michael Koenen was signed away from Atlanta in a six-year deal. The deal, worth $19.5 million over the term of the contract, includes $6.5 million in guaranteed money. Koenen should bring stability and consistency to the Buccaneers’ punt unit. Koenen has averaged 42.0 yards per punt over the span of his career. He has also been one of the league’s top kickoff specialists; his 106 touchbacks since 2005 are third-best among NFL kickers.
With only two weeks until the initial preseason game, the Bucs still have work to do. This week’s signings should allow general manager Mark Dominik and company to put more focus on ways to improve last year’s 10-6 team.
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