The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t have a lot of question marks on their depth chart heading into mini-camp and training camp. One exception to that is the left guard position, left open by the retirement of Ali Marpet.
The Buccaneers return three starters on the offensive line, Tristan Wirfs, Ryan Jensen and Donovan Smith. Last year’s starting right guard Alex Cappa left for Cincinnati in free agency. The Bucs answered by trading for Shaq Mason. That brings us to left guard, as of now, the Buccaneers have Aaron Stinnie, Sadarius Hutcherson, Robert Hainsey, Nick Leverett and rookie Luke Goedeke.
As reported by Pewter Report, Buccaneers offensive line coach Joe Gilbert talked about the left guard position battle.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch in camp,” Gilbert stated. “What’s better than competition? That’s probably gonna be one of the really fun positions to watch through camp, the development and the competition.”
“That’s the one thing we’ve preached in our room,” Gilbert went on. “It’s open. That spot there, every guy’s got a shot.”
The front-runners for the left guard spot seem likely to be Aaron Stinnie and rookie Luke Goedeke. Buccaneers offensive line coach Joe Gilbert working with Goedeke via Zoom and has been impressed.
“I’ve had a chance to work with him the last couple of days on Zoom calls and his retention and mental part of it is really good,” Gilbert stated. “That, to me, is the hardest thing for a college guy coming out anymore, is how fast can they pick up the system. Because the volume is so much different here at this level than it is in the college level. So far, just from his retention on the Zoom calls, it seems like he’s been pretty good.”
Stinnie does have the advantage of experience in starting the last three games of the 2020 season including the Super Bowl. Coincidentally replacing Alex Cappa who was out with an injury. But Goedeke, As Gilbert said has been impressive with his retention via Zoom, now what else will the Buccaneers be looking at during the evaluation?
“A big part is gonna be who communicates with Donny and Ryan at that left guard spot. That’s going to be a part of our evaluation process,” Gilbert said. “You can’t be a church mouse out there. They’ve got to talk, they’ve got to relay their calls from there and they’ve got their own line of communication. At some point, that’s going to be a big factor as we move forward.”
The Battle To Watch
The competition for left guard is easily the most anticipated battle in Buccaneers training camp this year. As Gilbert stated, the small things like communication and retention might be the difference between starting or not.
Look for Aaron Stinnie to win the battle for left guard, but not by a lot. As mentioned, his experience is key. He’s been there, done that. Goedeke looks to have all the ingredients to be a starter, but not quite yet.
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