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Once-muddled Bucs safety situation becomes clearer

Due to injuries and poor performance, the Bucs have started four different players at safety over the past two seasons. Eight different defensive backs saw time at safety in Tampa in 2010, and seven in 2011. It’s basically been a revolving door position two years running.

Gone are Tanard Jackson, Sean Jones, and Corey Lynch. Cody Grimm returns as a backup. Long gone is much-maligned Sabby Piscitelli.

In are former cornerback Ronde Barber and first-round pick Mark Barron.

Barber is now the starting free safety, while Barron is running with the first-team defense at strong safety. According to, Ahmad Black has emerged as Barber’s primary backup, with Grimm working behind Barron.

A 2011 fifth-round pick, Black spent part of his first season on the Bucs’ practice squad. Since Barber will slide down to cover slot receivers in Tampa’s sub-package defense, Black is set up for a significantly bigger role in 2012.

Oh yeah. For sure,” Black said. “When we go to dime, Ronde goes to the [slot] role and I go to free safety. I’ll do whatever I can for my team and do what’s best for us.”

Black also explained that the safety spots in Tampa are no longer considered interchangeable, as they were in old coach Raheem Morris’ Tampa-2 scheme. Under new head coach Greg Schiano, the Bucs use a true free safety and a more traditional in-the-box strong safety.

“The free safety is the free safety and the strong safety is the strong safety,” Black clarified. “We haven’t been interchanging. I’m just playing the free.”

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10 Responses to “Once-muddled Bucs safety situation becomes clearer”
  1. milkmandanimal says: Jun 4, 2012 10:35 AM

    Should be interesting, at least. Barber is clearly a very intelligent guy, but he’s slowed down a lot in recent years and just can’t cover like he used to. Curious to see how he fits Schiano’s idea of a safety.

    That being said, if Barber’s going to cover the slot guy, that’s not really a change from what he’s been doing; he’s been doing that for several years. Three- and four-wide sets are so much the norm these days, that if he’s going to effectively still be a nickel corner in many ways, I don’t see how he’s really any different than last year.

  2. freemantowilliams says: Jun 4, 2012 10:39 AM

    I’m glad that’s finally cleared up. I really hope Barron shines. Barber should be fine he rarely misses tackles and I watched him work Jimmy graham a few times last season. Go Bucs

  3. 6ball says: Jun 4, 2012 10:47 AM


    I think you will see a much more competitive Bucs team this year.


  4. tennesseeoilers says: Jun 4, 2012 10:48 AM

    Corey Lynch is solid–from safety to special teams to the locker room. Here’s hoping my Titans pick him up!

  5. chace1986 says: Jun 4, 2012 10:56 AM

    I dont know what their W/L record will be…but Tampa should be a fun team to watch in ’12.

  6. professorcolumbus says: Jun 4, 2012 11:06 AM


    You can hope all you want, but Lynch already signed with the Chargers…

  7. tennesseeoilers says: Jun 4, 2012 11:45 AM

    Thanks for the heads-up ProfessorColumbus. I see that it was former Buc’s special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia who brought Corey Lynch to San Diego last week. Our (my team’s and yours) loss.

  8. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins says: Jun 4, 2012 12:12 PM

    Glad to see Black is stepping up. I was about as thrilled as anyone can be about a 5th round pick when we got him, but he was hindered by injuries almost the entire season. If he can show he’s ready to start when Ronde retires, that would be one less hole we have to worry about filling next year. Black is undersized and not a burner, but he has tremendous instincts and understands his role…the type of player who could flourish under Schiano.

  9. bucforever says: Jun 5, 2012 10:39 AM

    The Chargers come to Tampa Nov . 11. Lynch’s return should make it interesting . GO BUCS

  10. jcg23 says: Jun 5, 2012 6:43 PM

    Barron will be a beast for you guys. I’m sorry the Cowboys didn’t get him, but happy we fixed our Cornerbacks (hopefully)

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