The “Battleground” Heating Up

August 3rd, 2009

To the surprise of Joe and much of the free world, general manager Mark Dominik told Bucs fans weeks ago that linebacker was the Bucs’ strongest position and where the hot action would be in the preseason.

Dominik on linebackers: “It’s probably our strongest position on our football team, suprisingly I bet to a lot of our fans. That our depth and our talent is pretty good there. So that’s a good battleground to watch during training camp if you want to see some real competition.”

While Joe was stunned by the comments, they’ve surely made him keep an extra eye on the LBs.

It’s clear to Joe that linebacker Angelo Crowell just isn’t at 100 percent, or he’s struggling to find his legs in the Florida heat. Crowell was burned badly by running back Josh Vaughn on Sunday, when the rookie former running mate of Tim Hightower cut on a dime and made Crowell look like an old man.

Crowell also worked a lot with the second stringers and just doesn’t seem to have that pop in his step that the Bucs are seeking.

Whereas Quincy Black, Crowell’s competition at strong side linebacker, looks like a verile young man on a mission recording multiple sacks Sunday — if one can truly record a sack without tackling. And he is feeling the love from Raheem The Dream, reports the St. Pete Times.

LB Quincy Black is being put in situations where he can rush the quarterback, either in blitz situations or as a defensive end.

“Quincy Black is one of those hybrid guys, man,” Morris said. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve got him a little bit at a rush end. He does that in certain situations. He’s big enough, he’s fast enough and he creates a problem for certain tackles and creates a problem for people trying to block him. We’ve got him coming through with some linebacker stuff as far as blitzes. When he comes, he’s a big, violent, physical human being. The kind of guys you like. He’s kind of one of those 3-4 hybrid guys and you can use him in any situation.”

As for superstar strong safety Jermaine Phillips’ transition to weakside linebacker, Derrick Brooks’ old position, Joe’s sensing Phillips is getting a bit babied by coaches and teammates in his new job. Sort of like orientation in the real world when everybody’s nice to you before you’re really held accountable.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But Joe’s just hoping Phillips is over much of his learning curve in Tennessee. Game 1 of the preseason is just 12 days away.

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