Josh Freeman

Posts Tagged ‘maurice stovall’

REAR ENTRIES: Getting Defensive

August 08, 2011 at 10:48am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

Rear Entry 88

AHMAD BLACK HAS A CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER: When you’re a 5-9, 184-pound safety, you better run really fast at your combine. Ahmad Black didn’t, so he came into the draft with the perception that he’s short, light and slow. And Black is getting tired of hearing all the negativity.

“What are they going to say next? I don’t talk good enough?” Black said.

“Well enough”, Ahmad. You don’t talk well enough. That’s okay, he went to Gainesville. We all understand.

“I was the happiest guy in the world when he ran a bad time at the combine because I knew I had a chance to get him a little bit later,” Raheem Morris said. “He’s come in here and he’s got that Cody Grimm-type of attitude. He’s just a playmaker who makes plays.”

Raheem wasn’t any happier than I was. I love Black and was really excited to see him come to Tampa. His 40 time is meaningless in pads — the guy is always around the ball and everyone forgets that he’s only 184 when he’s delivering the hit. I’ve seen him stop some of my Vols dead in their tracks with great form and plenty of power.

The article notes that the team lost a huge special teams contributor in Maurice Stovall to free agency (he went to Detroit), so there is a vacancy for Black right away for one of the key leaders of that group. I think he’ll make an immediate impact there.

CHANGING STANCES: Seeing as how the only time I line up in a three-point stance is for sexual purposes, I never really considered how the d-line’s stance mattered. I kind of always thought it was a personal preference. It turns out that there are all sorts of reasons to use one stance over another, and Keith Millard and Grady Stretz, the two new defensive line coaches, are here to explain it all. They used to be angled, now they’re lining up square with the line of scrimmage.

“There are a lot more strengths in our opinion to being squared up,” Stretz said. “Most of all, we think it’s a lot more beneficial in terms of being able to penetrate (the line of scrimmage) and get into the backfield.”

I’ve always said penetration was the most important thing.

“I mean, there are a few blocking schemes where it’s an advantage to be in a tilt but when you look at the big picture and the schemes we’re facing, it’s a lot more advantageous to square the guys off.”

Gerald McCoy says the stance is getting him into the backfield a lot more during practices, and Brian Price and Roy Miller are both on board with it as well. Watch the first preseason game to see how everyone lines up and notice if they seem to get in the backfield faster. Or, you know, at all.

MLB SWINGS IN FOSTER’S DIRECTION: Mason Foster has evidently overtaken Tyrone McKenzie as the leading candidate to start at middle linebacker.

Foster, the former Washington star, took all the reps with the first-team defense in Saturday morning’s walk-through and is in a battle with second-year pro Tyrone McKenzie and rookie Derrell Stephens, an undrafted rookie from Syracuse.

Oh yes, I’m sure Stephens is neck-and-neck with the other two.

The only thing I had heard about McKenzie that was negative was that he had dropped a couple easy interceptions. Everything else has been stellar. This may be just to get a better look at Foster or it could be that he is simply outperforming McKenzie in the eyes of the coaches. Almost everyone is predicting Foster to win the battle and the coaches are doing everything possible to make it happen. McKenzie can be a solid backup, but I really hope he is getting his fair shake at starting.

BECAUSE IT’S MY BLOG: Jonathan Crompton in a Bucs jersey. He may not have much of a shot to make the team, but this still makes me smile.

Camp Freeman: Day 1

June 29, 2011 at 10:27am by Scott   •  9 Comments »

Who's the white dude on the right with his hair all up like that? And why does he have his hair all up like that?

[Some of this duplicates some information posted below that I didn’t realize was posted until just now. But read it again because it’s actual Buccaneer football news and you were just going to play with yourself all day anyway.]

* Depending on who you ask, between 45 and 50 players showed up to Camp Freeman yesterday. The Bucs have 82 players (including suspended Tanard Jackson) on their roster, so that’s more than half. Among notable no-shows is Barrett Ruud, Cadillac Williams, LeGarrette Blount, Ronde Barber and Greg White. Notable yes-shows were Aqib Talib, Davin Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood, Maurice Stovall, Quincy Black… lots of guys who will be free agents when the lockout is over. That’s pretty cool. Brian Price and Kareem Huggins were there but sat out because of injury, which I think says a lot about their dedication to this team and the building of chemistry. Arrelious Benn was limited because of his knee.

* Also pretty cool is the number of linemen who showed up. Jeff Faine, Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah, Trueblood and Joseph were all there. Penn said it was good to get in a three-point stance again since the last time he did in January.

* Rookies Mason Foster and Adrian Clayborn chose to attend Camp Freeman instead of the rookie symposium. For their benefit, I’ll summarize what they’re missing: Save your money, don’t hit women, everyone is out to get you.

* Speaking of Joseph, he said he’d like to come back to the Bucs but that it has to “make sense”. Which means he’s open to all offers and the Bucs will need to pony up to keep him. They’ll certainly have the cap room; the question is if they think he’s worth whatever the other teams offer him. Joseph also made it clear that re-signing other offensive linemen who are free agents (read: Trueblood) would influence his decision to stay.

* It’s wasn’t only offensive linemen who showed up. Several defensive linemen were there too, and it was Gerald McCoy who really stepped up and became the leader of that group.

* McCoy looks like a different dude. He has spent the last several months sculpting his body. He has lost fat, gained muscle and definition and looks like a different player.

McCoy shows Clayborn how a normal right arm is supposed to move.

* And not to get all gay with it or anything, but this is what Dekoda Watson looks like these days.

Terrell who?

Okay, maybe getting a little gay with it.

* I had mentioned the other day that there wouldn’t be coaches at this minicamp so the more experienced players would have to instruct the young ones. While that is happening, IMG is providing coaches for the camp. For example, Ken Dorsey is the quarterbacks coach. And before you make fun of that, remember that Alex Van Pelt is their real quarterbacks coach.

* Sessions included weightlifting and other workouts, position drills, scripted plays and team meetings. The format was a typical two-a-day. It wasn’t as tight as a normal minicamp, but it definitely wasn’t bullshit, either. It was pretty organized.

* Nobody is really reporting how anyone “looked” in terms of ability, although guys like Talib and Cody Grimm who ended the season on injured reserve practice full-speed, so their injuries seem to be behind them.

Workouts to continue today, possibly with even more players.

RFA Tenders For Everybody

February 25, 2011 at 10:10am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

The look of a man who has both Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood upset at him.
Not content to only have Davin Joseph pissed off at him, Mark Dominik went ahead and tendered every player with an expired contract and less than six years in the league with a RFA offer. Doesn’t Dominik ever want to get a Christmas card again?

Dominik said Thursday the Bucs sent restricted free-agent tenders to guard Davin Joseph, tackle Jeremy Trueblood, linebackers Quincy Black and Adam Hayward, receiver Maurice Stovall and defensive ends Tim Crowder and Stylez White, though those tags may not be binding once a new labor agreement is reached.

The team only has one franchise tag, so even though they didn’t use it, they were going to have to pull this trick if they wanted to squat on these players’ rights. But being tendered as a RFA when you have more than three years in the league always pisses off players no matter how you dress it up.

“I think we all feel like we’re worth X or whatever it is,” Dominik said.

“It’s just that my X is several million dollars less than your X.”

“The point is, that doesn’t preclude you from doing a long-term deal. So the reality is, I just told the player I want him and he’s a good player. That’s the way I perceive it, and that’s the way it will be told to the agent and certainly to the player.”

“We want you, but only for a year and at the cheapest amount allowable. And then if we find someone better, nothing is guaranteed.”

By the way, this ends all player negotiations until a new CBA is signed. There was speculation that Ronde Barber‘s deal would be the beginning of a wave of under-the-wire agreements to lock players in long-term. You know, the way they keep talking about re-signing their own guys and building this thing for the long haul.

“I think we’ve done our deals now until we get clarity (on the labor agreement),” Dominik said at the NFL scouting combine.

I’m trying to think of a player that was signed long-term where Dominik didn’t wait until he was backed into a corner to do it. Donald Penn didn’t sign his tender and stayed away from camp (despite being lied to about the penalties for doing so), Kellen Winslow would have held out after the trade if there wasn’t a new contract involved, draft picks get long-term contracts as a matter of course. Is there any example of a player that was signed to a multi-year deal where the team hadn’t already exhausted every other avenue to retain them? I’d love to know how long Dominik dated his wife before he finally asked her to marry him. Because just like in the NFL, there’s always someone younger and better coming out of college next year.

Linebacker Barrett Ruud and running back Cadillac Williams are not affected by the tender situation because they have played six seasons. Dominik is having discussions this week with their agents.

Backed up against a wall.

“We’re talking to every one of our players and telling them what our plans are and what we’re going to do with them whether they’re on the football team and under contract or scheduled to become unrestricted,” Dominik said. “We’re certainly being very clear and very open.”

I’m sure this is true, it’s just not what players want to hear. When they hear they’re getting a RFA tender after four or five years of service, they hear “I’m getting screwed” and I believe it fosters ill will and does nothing to promote loyalty to the Buccaneers. But maybe it’s all still part of the Bucs’ plan. Every one of these affected players is from a past regime. Maybe they’ll start acting differently when their own draft picks come to the end of their rookie contracts. Maybe Mike Williams will get signed to a six-year deal a year before his current one expires. Maybe they’ll reward LeGarrette Blount with something other than the minimum even before he’s scheduled to hit free agency. That would at least make sense to me, but I guess I won’t know for sure for a couple years. In the meantime, you have to wonder if some of these guys are going to start rolling their eyes when Raheem talks about teamwork on the sideline.

Can’t Not Be Feelin’ Dis: Wide Receivers

February 14, 2011 at 01:53pm by Scott   •  1 Comment »

I'm missing a really good caption here. Someone help me out.
CURRENT ROSTER: Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Micheal Spurlock, Maurice Stovall, Sammie Stroughter, Dezmon Briscoe, Preston Parker, Ed Gant

I’ve been a Bruce Allen supporter for years, but the guy was terrible at drafting wide receivers. Dexter Jackson, Larry Brackins, Paris Warren, J.R. Russell… his greatest success was Michael Clayton. He could have drafted Michael J. Fox and gotten the same results. Allen may have been able to manage the shit out of the salary cap, but his eye for wide receiver talent had huge cataracts. So for years, analysts have continued to put wide receiver as one of the top, of not the top need for the Buccaneers in the offseason. Sammie Stroughter was a nice surprise as the first receiver of the Mark Dominik era, but he hit the jackpot in 2010 with Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn. With the addition of the other young talent at the position, no one is saying that wide receiver is a need anymore.

Mike Williams, who would be the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year if this was a just world, is the entrenched starter. Everyone is thrilled with his performance; he just needs to clean up some of those drops.

Arrelious Benn is coming off a late-season knee injury but is optimistic about returning on-time next season. His specialty is open space and he was able to turn several short catches into much longer yardage. He started nine games this year and should see significant starting time again in 2011.

Spurlock made a good case for himself this year to stay on the roster as both a returner and a receiver. He had 17 catches for 250 yards, but six of those were for 20+ yards. He’s a big-play threat and has shown good hands. As a kick returner, he had four returns of 40+ yards and another touchdown. Spurlock has had a hard time sticking on a roster before, but I just don’t see him going anywhere next year. His return skills alone should be enough, and his receiving talents only add to his security.

Stovall’s promising 2009 was followed up with a seven catch 2010, including one touchdown. That one pass he caught off a deflection was pretty cool, but that’s not enough to justify keeping him. In five years, he has caught 51 passes. There’s so much new talent out there and it’s looking like Stovall has maxed out. Stovall’s contract is up and I just don’t see how he makes the roster again in 2011.

Stroughter is an interesting case. We were all hailing him as the steal of the draft and talking about him like he was the secret love child of Don Hutson and Jerry Rice. And although I still think he’s good and worth keeping, a lot of that hype was probably the result of the Bucs having such poor receiver talent for so long. Stroughter may not be as fancy a cracker as we originally thought.

I’m pretty sure Stroughter is safe in 2011, but if the Bucs somehow load up on even more talent this offseason, he could be seen as expendable in 2012.

Briscoe was good enough last year to overpay as a practice squad player until the team was ready to activate him. He only caught six passes in 2010, but one of them was for 54 yards and a touchdown. It’s going to be enough to get him a shitload of reps in training camp and likely pit him against Spurlock as the primary deep threat. The coaches are really excited about Briscoe and he’ll be given every chance to make an impact.

The coaches also love Parker, and I still don’t know exactly why he’s special. He seems to do everything decently, but doesn’t really excel at anything. He only had four receptions this year along with ten kick returns. His long return was 37 yards, but his average was only 17.8 yards. If the Bucs absolutely had to part ways with a receiver from last year (besides Stovall), it would be Parker, but I think the coaches believe in his potential enough to stick with him for another year.

I know two things about Ed Gant. He was suspended by the NFL for violating the PED policy last summer, and he went to school at North Alabama, just like Parker. I have a feeling that had something to do with the Bucs signing him. Parker probably recommended Gant to the coaches and he was as good as anyone else they could get. Camp meat.

I gotta tell you, I’m not a big fan of the receivers projected in the second round. Titus Young (Boise State) seems like a character concern, Torrey Smith (Maryland) is a speedy one-trick pony and Jonathan Baldwin (Pitt) is a big, strong receiver who can’t get separation, and the Bucs already have one Maurice Stovall. If they were to slide, maybe they’d all be worth mid-round picks.

But for a value mid-to-late rounder, I’d look to Randall Cobb (Kentucky). Cobb came on huge as a receiver in 2010, but he also played running back and quarterback throughout his career. He’s smart and athletic, although not very tall. He has good change-of-direction speed, but his 40 is about 4.5, so he’s not going to breakaway from anyone down the field. He has fantastic vision and sees the entire field but needs time to develop his route running to match his vision. Think of him as a slightly slower Dexter McCluster. McCluster was taken in the second round in 2010, so I’d put Cobb in about a fourth or fifth round slot.

STOP! HOMERTIME! If the Bucs want to take a shot on a receiver flying under the radar right now, they could do a lot worse than Denarius Moore (Tennessee). I’ve seen third-round grades on him and I’ve seen undrafted grades on him and everything in between. I personally think he’s worth a fourth-round pick, but I’m going to guess he slides a good bit. He’s quick off the line and, more importantly, can gain separation. He’s strong for his size with great hands and an ability to twist his body to make the catch. He’s very tough, doesn’t go down easily and is a willing blocker. Right now he is primarily known as a deep threat, but he’s not going to be able to make his living that way in the NFL, so he needs to develop his route running skills and be more fluid in his breaks and not telegraph where he’s going to go. He was involved in the Bar Knoxville brawl last summer that sent a UT police officer to the hospital. Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley expelled a couple players immediately for their role in the incident, but Moore was allowed to stay and played all season, so I take from that that Moore’s role in the fight wasn’t major, but that may just be my bias talking. Anyway, he’s worth a look.

There are a ton of receivers that are eligible for free agency under the current CBA rules, but those may not be the same when a new deal is finally enacted. Assuming that the Bucs don’t feel the need for a marquee wide receiver, the best options out there are Lance Moore, Early Doucet and for some reason I like Sam Hurd. Santana Moss would be an interesting addition if he has anything left in the tank, but his age goes completely against the Bucs’ plans.

With the improvement the receivers showed in 2010, I don’t know why there would be much change to the roster. Stovall will probably drop off and another talented toddler will take his place. That’s about all the movement I see.

Bisaccia Makes Nice

January 14, 2011 at 10:33am by Scott   •  1 Comment »

If he could only grow the goat upward, he could solve his bald spot problem.
It took him a couple days, but Rich Bisaccia finally delivered the coachspeak about his former team that we expected all along. Which is the least he can do when all those people took the time to figure out how to pronounce his name properly.

“I had a tremendous run in Tampa and to be in one place with one organization in my business is a true blessing,” Bisaccia said Thursday from his home in the Bay area. “I am very glad the Buccaneers gave me that kind of an opportunity and it will never be forgotten by me or my family.”

“Except in my first quotes as a Charger. I definitely forgot it then.”

“I’m proud of our body of work in Tampa over the years,” Bisaccia said. “I will definitely miss the players, guys like Maurice Stovall, Adam Hayward and Micheal Spurlock. To me, coaching is based on relationships and I’m proud of the relationships we built in Tampa Bay. Looking back, I’ve been touched by a lot of people in Tampa and the fans here have been great.”

Hey, I’ve also been touched by a lot of people in Tampa. I had to pay for it, but I think it still counts.

“I left shaking hands all the way around – and that’s the way it should be,” Bisaccia said. “They’ve got a heck of a future here in Tampa and Buc fans have a lot to look forward to. The Bucs have a tremendous young quarterback in Josh Freeman and a bunch of talented players who will fight to the death for Raheem Morris.”

Everybody was cordial and no one is going to say anything nasty on the record, but Bisaccia could have stayed if he wanted to and, from what I’ve heard, was offered a good contract by the Bucs. But he didn’t want to be tied to the Bucs — who have blocked his progress before — when the next opportunity for advancement came, and his contract with the Chargers probably contains some language that gives him some flexibility under that circumstance. I’m sure he appreciates his experience, but there’s no real love lost.

Now, as for the players, he did love those guys and most of them were really dedicated to him. Expect San Diego to make a run at some Buccaneer free agents, especially special teams guys. He didn’t mention Stovall and Hayward randomly.

Players Who Will Be Unrestricted In March

January 04, 2011 at 09:56am by Scott   •  6 Comments »

Pinch all you want, coach. Ain't an ounce of body fat there.
The players that are up for free agency probably aren’t going to their contracts looked at until the coaches are handled at the very least, or maybe even until after the CBA situation is settled, but since there won’t be any real news for a while, let’s go ahead and look at who is technically unemployed after March 4. Alphabetically:

Ronde Barber: The Bucs want Ronde back and Ronde seems open to the possibility. He has stated for the record that he will either retire or come back to Tampa Bay — no other team will be considered. Ronde looks like the exception to the youth-movement rule. He’s still playing at a high level, but will his starting one more year hinder the development of E.J. Biggers or Myron Lewis?

Quincy Black: That whole thing about rushing him like a defensive end didn’t work out, but he’s still a very talented and athletic linebacker, just not particularly remarkable. Capable of making splash plays when in position. Bucs will let him test the market.

Tim Crowder: The Bucs are in such need of a defensive end overhaul, but I think Crowder should stay. One of the better DEs on the team, applies consistent pressure and can get to the quarterback, which makes me wonder why they drop him into coverage so much.

John Gilmore: Just now coming on as a receiver and is a great locker room guy, but I think his age works against him. Bucs have other options at tight end that probably fit their plan better.

Adam Hayward: Could draw some looks in free agency with all his playing time and he may not want to be a backup anymore. Huge community guy. This one depends on if they feel Dekota Watson is ready to take his role.

Davin Joseph: Had an up and down season, but I don’t think they let him go unless negotiations get ugly.

Niko Koutouvides: I honestly thought he’d be gone by now. I really don’t think he sticks for another offseason.

Barrett Ruud: I would bet the Bucs let Ruud test the market and set his value that way. If they haven’t bothered to sign him by now, I don’t think they’re in a hurry to do it before he hits free agency. Ruud is a team player, but I think the relationship is still somewhat frosty after the Donald Penn got signed and he didn’t. Nothing would surprise me, but if I had to bet money on an outcome, I’d say he’s gone.

Micheal Spurlock: They can’t possibly let him go. He’s a good returner with actual value on the offense.

Maurice Stovall: There are too many emerging wide receivers on the roster to keep giving him reps. I think he’s gone.

Jeremy Trueblood: They may re-sign him because he’ll be relatively cheap, but Demar Dotson and James Lee will be back this offseason and the position will be up for grabs. May be cut in August if re-signed.

Greg White: Another one that will be allowed to test the market because of his age. If he can be re-signed cheap, they’ll probably do it, but he won’t be a priority.

Cadillac Williams: Wants to feel out the market for a starting position, but I don’t think any current NFL team wants to sign a running back with two knee surgeries as their starter. If he has to be a backup, he’d prefer it to be in Tampa, and the Bucs like him in his role. I say he stays.

There are also guys on the team who are technically restricted free agents and exclusive-rights free agents, but those terms only mean anything in relation to the CBA, so who knows if they will mean the same thing when the new agreement is finally hammered out. But I would guess that everyone that fits into those categories now will still be with the team in the offseason at least. So breathe easy, everyone. Your Rudy Carpenter trading cards aren’t obsolete yet.

Yeah, The West Coast Is SO Scary

November 22, 2010 at 11:34am by Scott   •  12 Comments »

Penn doesn't do the flying bumps. Those are for the gays.
LeGarrette Blount continued his trend of having an explosive first half tempered with a mundane second half. And I’m not using “mundane” derogatorily. But when you have the lead and the other team knows you’re going to run the ball, you’re going to get less yardage. Blount had 55 yards on 13 carries (4.2 YPC) in the first half and only 27 yards on the same number of carries in the second. And that’s fine. The real surprise is Cadillac Williams‘s second game of being the ideal third down or change of pace back. He only had seven carries but he made 51 yards (7.3 YPC) on them and scored a touchdown. Cadillac seems to have found his niche. If he’s this effective for the rest of the season, can the Bucs really justify letting him walk in free agency?

We saw more wildcat yesterday, proving that Stephen Holder knew what he was talking about the other day when he predicted the Bucs would keep running it. And that’s fine because I’d rather he be right than most anyone else that writes about the Bucs. Josh Johnson ran for 7 yards in the first quarter, passed for 7 in the second, and Micheal Spurlock lined up for that weird lopsided alignment and passed out of it incomplete. It definitely makes things more interesting to watch, but I’m still not sold on it being a solid strategy to have Josh Freeman on the sidelines. If Greg Olson is so intent on launching trick plays for every game, it seems like he could design them to have Freeman still at quarterback. Is Johnson really that much faster? If he is, line him up at receiver and actually run the play.

The offensive line was phenomenal yesterday. They gave up one sack early in the game (the second sack wasn’t their fault), but other than that, I can’t think of any real criticism of them. Ted Larsen and James Lee seem to be the pieces that have been missing all this time. So instead of high draft picks, all they really needed were undrafted free agents. Now the line has two first-rounders and three undrafted guys. Maybe they should just go to construction sites and ask some of the guys who are standing around if they want to play for the Bucs. Mark Dominik could probably make it work.

And Donald Penn catching a touchdown — very cool. Penn actually blocked for a couple seconds and really sold his assignment before bailing out and running into the flat or the TD. And it wasn’t that old Jumbo Elliot catch, either. He caught it with his hands low and away. Players probably just ignore the “so-and-so is eligible” announcements because they happen all the time. Suckers.

Mike Williams did everything he could to make you forget that he almost didn’t get the chance to play in this game. Overall, he only caught three passes, but the biggest one came when he was bailing out his quarterback by coming back to an underthrown ball away from coverage. On the same drive, Williams was mauled and interfered with by Shawntae Spencer but still caught the touchdown on the fade. And some dude named Maurice Stovall caught a 22-yard pass. Congratulations to him for poking his way out of the bubble wrap and getting on the field for an offensive play.

But the defensive line is the real story here. The great Frank Gore was held to 23 yards on 12 carries and Troy Smith was sacked six (six!) times and hit another 12. And look at the names of the guys that were getting sacks: Al Woods, Alex Magee, Michael Bennett. Again, developmental scrapheap guys that other teams didn’t want or just parked on their practice squads. Gerald McCoy also got his first sack of the year continues to improve his game week after week. All this pressure led to Troy Smith’s 51.5 passer rating and may actually put Mike Singletary out of a job. Seriously, he was already on thin ice, and now a shutout? At home? When the news of his eventual firing is announced, the defensive line can puff out their chests a little and say, “We did that.”

Also worth noting is Ronde Barber‘s 40th career interception, making his eventual Hall of Fame snubbing that much sadder.

Let’s continue the discussion in the comments.

Tom Balog Finally Goes Too Far

October 14, 2010 at 11:33am by Scott   •  6 Comments »

I was wondering in an entry a couple weeks ago who would be Tom Balog‘s newest obsession on the Buccaneers. It would have to be someone who is either completely under the radar or underachieving that he could wave his banner (made of human skin) for and chastise the team for not basing all their gameplans around. And it looks like he may have found his man.

Where have you gone, Maurice Stovall?

That’s his article’s title. Notice how he subtly draws the comparison of Stovall to Joe DiMaggio using Simon & Garfunkel‘s phrasing. Because we all know a baseball Hall of Famer and legend is exactly the same as an unknown wide receiver with 44 catches to his name.

Maurice Stovall, a five-year veteran with the most experience among Tampa Bay’s young receiving corps, should be in the receiver rotation for the Buccaneers. At least for “leadership” purposes.

Because nothing says “leader” like catching one smoke route in a game and losing two yards. The receiving corps is one of the best performing groups on the team. Why would you want to fuck with that?

He’s been healthy for three weeks now, but inactive for Tampa Bay’s last two games and three of the four this season. He had no catches in his only appearance in the road win at Carolina.

The team is winning without him in the lineup. Ergo, they should change the lineup. Tomorrow Tom will teach us why you should always hit on 20.

Stovall is only 25, but, as far as the Buccaneers are concerned, he’s an old 25.

This part is true. Stovall has had a ton of injuries and other people have emerged around him. It happens. That noble shit about not losing your job to an injury fell out of favor years ago in the NFL when teams learned that — surprise! — playing healthy guys will win them more games than playing beat up ones.

He’s just hanging around, being the practice/workout demon that he’s always been, collecting the pro-rated weekly share of his $1 million salary for the 2010 season, and hoping that he’s not the unfortunate guy who gets cut the next time the team needs to create a spot on the 53-man roster.

Who writes like this? All Stovall needs is a straw hat, a hayseed in his mouth and a pair of overalls to shove his hands into so he can bow his head and mozy down to the old fishin’ hole to think for a spell. Poor old Maurice. Is he overcoming some kind of malady or circumstance that I’m not aware of? Is he really a sympathetic character? Or is he just an injury-prone wide receiver who was picked in the third round several years ago? I mean, he seems like a nice guy and all, and he’s shown he has talent, but it just hasn’t worked out for him. Why is he getting the Rudy treatment?

This abandonment should never have happened to Stovall, who ought to be a tough, physical receiver, at 220 pounds. Although the odds were that it would, given his injury-riddled track record.

The word “abandonment” is meant to manipulate you. Nobody left Stovall in a basket on someone’s doorstep. If he gets cut, then maybe you could more accurately use that word, but even then it’s implying more than it is. God, this is hacky.

And you know what, Stovall isn’t even all that upset about being forgotten, at least not to the point where he’d express peeved-off bitterness when I asked him last week where he stood.

I suppose in the era of Terrell Owens and Darrelle Revis, we need to take time out to recognize when football players aren’t being jackasses. So fine. Enjoy the moment.

“I feel like that’s up to the coaches to make that decision,” he said. “That’s not my job to make that decision.”

How about sticking up for yourself, Maurice?

But Balog just expressed admiration for the way he handled it. Now Stovall should have gotten feisty? Which is it?

”It can be frustrating, but at the same time, that’s what happens when you get hurt,” Stovall said. “You give opportunity for other guys to make plays, make a name for themselves.

”At the same time, all you can do is get healthy, keep working hard and just wait for your opportunity again.”

Stovall just destroyed Balog’s article by showing a clear understanding of the process. After Balog got that quote, he should have said, “Well, shit, I guess I don’t have anything to write about” and then gone home to dress up like his mother and stab hotel guests to death.

Although Stovall is mild-mannered to begin with, he’s probably afraid that he’ll end up released like Michael Clayton. He doesn’t have the self-assurance and feisty demeanor like safety Sabby Piscitelli, to get in Morris’ face about losing his job, like Piscitelli did.

This raises an interesting point that would be a good subject of another article. Sabby got benched in favor of Sean Jones, bitched about it, and then after Sabby turned in a good performance against the Bengals, Raheem Morris almost praised the way Piscitelli handled the benching. We all love it when players are humble and respectful and determined, but is it the best career move for them?

[Damn it, I can’t find the quote from Morris where he kind of patted Sabby on the back for his outburst. I know I read it, though. If anyone has the link, send it and I’ll update this article and give you credit.]

[UPDATE: Thanks to reader Stephen for the link. It was a transcription of the Raheem Morris show on Monday and can be found here. Here’s the quote:

“[Sabby] put it out in public and it became kind of a thing that brought our team together,” Morris said. “It was a great example for me to use for our team. It was a great example for me to use for our guys.”

Complaining that the coaches didn’t conduct a competition fairly is a good example for the team? I would think exactly the opposite. Take your medicine, keep your nose to the grindstone and your mouth shut and when your opportunity comes again, take advantage of it.]

Anyway, that’s just something that would be cool to write about. Someone with persistent access should do it. But it has nothing to do with Balog’s article.

All Stovall can hope is that somebody gets hurt, just like safety Sean Jones went down in Sunday’s game against the Bengals, forcing the team to send Piscitelli back into his old job, where all he did was make an fourth-quarter interception that enabled the Buccaneers to win a table-turning road game.

Go ahead and read those first few words again. “All Stovall can hope is that somebody gets hurt…” That’s awful. To suggest that Stovall should wish for a teammate to get injured is beyond just being a hack writer or crazy. Now we’re moving into the realm of being a bad human being. Like, a guy whose hand you would refuse to shake if you met him. What a piece of shit.

”He had to play the ‘catch-up’ game a little bit,” Morris said. ” ‘Mo’ will be ‘Mo’ and ‘Mo’ will start to come back along and try to get back into this rotation and try to fight his way back in.”

We’ll see about that.

Yes, because Big Daddy Balog is always watching and will call you out to the fine citizens of Sarasota if you don’t play his favorite marginal players enough. You know what would be great is if we could get Maurice Stovall and Michael Clayton, the two receivers he has singled-out for being underused, and somehow put them on the same team. What a scoring juggernaut that would be.

I had another joke or two I was going to try to work in, but that thing about wishing for an injury really pissed me off. From everything I know about Stovall, that’s the very last thing he would ever do. He is praised for his humility and his relentless work ethic and is said to be a good teammate. I’ve never met him personally (although I nearly ran into him with a tray of barbecue chicken), but I can’t imagine that the thought of actively hoping for one of his fellow receivers to get hurt ever crossed his mind. I’m sure he’s preparing in case it happens, but that’s a far stretch from what Balog wrote. For the second article in a row, I end by saying fuck that guy.

Maurice’s Football Baby

August 26, 2010 at 03:00pm by Scott   •  1 Comment »

Just don't punt him, or you'll go to jail.
Remember back in high school when you had a Home Ec class or a Sex Ed class (or if you lived in one of those towns where the principle was selected based on the number of toes he hadn’t accidentally blown off, they generically called the class “Health”) and you had an assignment where you were assigned an egg to care for? You were supposed to draw facial features on it and put a little bonnet on it and carry it around for a week without breaking it, all in the desperate hope that you would learn what a horrible burden babies are so you wouldn’t have unprotected sex in the back of a lowered Grand Am, have a child, drop out of school, and reduce the tax revenue base for the county. Personally, I set my egg in front of the TV for a week with one of those hamster water bottles and everything worked out fine. That’s how I was raised for the first four years of my life and I turned out fine. Sure my eyes are permanently crossed and I have a weird oral fixation, but I also know every episode of the Brady Bunch by heart.

Anyway, Maurice Stovall must have also had that class because he’s doing the same thing, except with a football. Which is kind of cheating because you can’t crack a football when you plop down on the couch.

Mo Stovall carries a football everywhere. It’s on his lap when he drives, he sleeps with it at night. He’s been doing it since forever.

“Just so it’s always on my mind,” he said.

I just spent 200 words making fun of it, but I love the dedication. Whatever it takes. If it helps him focus and take it all the more seriously, fine. Plus, you know, he’s always got a football. Wouldn’t that be cool? Sometimes you just want to take a five minute break and toss the ball with a friend but no one ever has one on them. Maurice found one solution to that problem. Another solution: Football baby slings.

This came from a Martin Fennelly article and god forbid I say anything nice about him, but it wasn’t awful. He goes over all the receivers on the roster and why they might have a chip on their shoulder. When he finally gets to #80:

There’s Michael Clayton.

Well, you know …

Hey, look at that. Martin made a funny. It’s the first example of an excusable three word paragraph I can think of. If he can do these for another ten years or so, he will have made up for all the shit he’s written to this point.

REAR ENTRIES: Staying Positive

August 26, 2010 at 12:54pm by Scott   •  9 Comments »

Rear Entries 26
STROUGHTER PROBABLY STARTING: We’ll know for sure on Saturday when the Bucs are supposed to take the field with the group that will be starting the regular season, but if they needed to play a game today, it sounds like Sammie Stroughter would be the other starter along side Mike Williams.

“He’s got the most production in the camp, he has the most production in the season,” Morris said. “He’s got the most production off the grass for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”

I’m so happy for him because he’s done everything the right way. Maurice Stovall was said to have an edge on him, but Stovall’s injury knocked him down a notch. The Bucs brought in Reggie Brown who has great speed and some good experience with the Eagles. They still have Michael Clayton who obviously has incriminating video of the Glazers or perhaps has kidnapped one of their children or something. And Sammie beat them all out despite their athletic or blackmaily advantages.

A lot of you aren’t ready to toot Mark Dominik‘s drafting horn yet, but just make a mental note that a fourth-round rookie and a seventh-rounder from a year ago are the starting wide receivers. We’ll talk at the end of the season about their performance and if Dominik deserves some kudos for his value drafting.

SAINTS CUT MARK BRADLEY: I thought it was dumb at the time when the Bucs cut Mark Bradley because the coaches were talking about using him as a model for route running and he had experience and good hands, but I guess the Saints know a thing or two about wide receivers.

It comes less than three weeks after Bradley signed a one-year deal with the team.

Whether he was originally signed just as camp meat or they really thought he had a chance to make the team, it’s not a good sign for Bradley. But it’s a great sign for the Bucs who obviously knew when to cut ties with him, and that’s pretty much all that matters. How many positive articles have I written in the last couple days? Three or four? Wow, it feels good to sound like a fan again.

WARREN SAPP TALKS HAYNESWORTH: It’s my kneejerk reaction to defend Tennessee Volunteers pretty much regardless of what kind of bullshit they pull. Hell, I’m even 1 for 2 on defending the ones that have actually taken human lives. But Albert Haynesworth is just a ridiculous jackass and his nonsense with the Redskins is indefensible. And I’ve always hated the cheating and orange-skinned Mike Shanahan, so trust me, I was looking for any old reason to be on Albert’s side here, but there’s not any shred of worth to hold onto. Warren Sapp agrees.

“[Albert’s] wrong. He knows he is. He’s not in his first year. He’s not in his fifth year. He knows exactly what he’s doing. This is a man who stepped on another man’s face on the football field one time.”

That man was Andre Gurode and that time was 2006, so a lot of people might have forgotten about the incident, but if you start adding all this shit up, Albert is not a good dude. And now that he has enough guaranteed money to buy the Falkland Islands outright (although, who would want to?) he really doesn’t care what we think of him. Or, for that matter, what his boss thinks of him.

“Well, the check isn’t going to change. And that’s the whole key to this situation. He doesn’t care how many plays he plays. The plays that I’m watching he’s just jumping to one side ripping. I mean, he has no awareness of where the ball is. He doesn’t care. So if we’re talking about evaluation of his play compared to the check that he’s getting, he knows what it is. ‘I get eight plays and a big check, that’s not bad.’ It’s wrong, though.”

Fuck-ups like this ruin it for good guys like Barrett Ruud who deserve a new contract but don’t get it because management is scared that they’ll get all soft and doughy and lazy when they finally deposit that signing bonus. Haynesworth is putting in just enough effort to fulfill his contract so he can go on to collect his $41-million guaranteed. And the Bucs almost had this guy. For some reason, even though Tampa offered him more money, he went ahead and signed with Washington. That’s relief along the lines of getting a clean AIDS test after a bachelor party trip to Haiti.