Last season, Tampa Bay’s Offensive Line was a major weak spot on the team. The Buccaneers simply were not able to create any kind of a running game. The pass protection for Winston was not much better, which can be proved by quarterback Jameis Winston fumbling the ball a whopping 15 times. Ofcourse, the fact that Demar Dotson, Ali Marpet, and J.R. Sweezy all finished last year, on injured reserve, did not make things any easier.
However, other than Kevin Pamphile, who plays for the Tennessee Titans now, all of Tampa Bay’s starters from last year return for 2018. In addition to that, the Bucs were able to acquire much-needed help via free agency as they signed Ryan Jensen, a 27 year old center, who played for the Baltimore Ravens before becoming a free agent. Jensen has impressed the coaching staff so far in OTAs.
“What I’ve seen so far is he’s really smart, he’s tough, he’s played,” Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken said. “He brings a confidence to that position even though really he had one year as a starter there in [Baltimore], but he’s been around, been in the league for a number of years. So, I feel really good about the way he’s been approaching it. When we’ve been on the field it’s been seamless. You haven’t seen a lot of issues in terms of terminology and snaps and those kind of things. I think we got a really good one.”See article here
As of now, it seems that Jensen will start the season as the Buccaneers center. According to buccaneers.com, Ali Marpet will move from the center position to left guard, even though he played right guard in 2015 and 2016. The coaching staff does not consider it a problem for Marpet to move from the right side, to center and now to the left side. When asked about this certain matter, offensive line coach George Warhop answered confidently:
“When you play center, you’ve got to play both right and left guard. If I’m a center and I have to shift on my right, I’m a right guard. If I have to shift on my left, I’m a left guard. So, really the transition for him to go from center to left guard is really easy versus flipping from right guard to left guard and Ali is smart. It’s really important for him and he takes it personally to do well. Of all the guys no matter where I’m moving them from, he would be the one I’d have the least concerns about.”
The third Offensive Lineman who seems to be settled as a starter is Donovan Smith. The Second round pick from 2015 will most likely start at the left tackle position.
On the right side of the line, things are not as obvious as they are on the left. It all depends on whether J.R. Sweezy will be available, as he has not returned to the field, due to injury. Alex Cappa is a promising prospect, but unlikely to start right off the bat as a rookie.
As of now, all signs point to Demar Dotson starting at right tackle, whereas Benenoch is currently the favorite to start at right guard. Then again, it is only June and no one knows what will happen in the next three months. Hopefully, this Bucs o-line can get it together in 2018!