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 PewterReport.com, 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.”

(Photo credit: PewterReport.com.)

10 responses to “Once-muddled Bucs safety situation becomes clearer

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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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