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Barber could be heading back to corner
Posted Jul 3, 2012 by Ira Kaufman
Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 04:59 PM
BY IRA KAUFMAN
TAMPA—Monday’s arrest of Eric Wright on felony DUI charges could end up having a major ripple effect on the secondary of the Buccaneers.
Signed as a free agent from the Lions four months ago, Wright is now facing a possible suspension from the NFL for his involvement in a two-car crash in downtown Los Angeles. Wright admitted to police officers on the scene that he had been drinking.
If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspends Wright for an extended period, the Bucs may decide to return veteran Ronde Barber to his natural position at corner instead of shifting him to safety. In that scenario, it’s likely Cody Grimm would line up next to rookie Mark Barron at safety, at least until Wright is cleared to suit up.
Tampa Bay’s early-season schedule appears particularly challenging for a defensive backfield that will be tested by Carolina’s Cam Newton, Eli Manning of the Giants, Tony Romo of the Cowboys and Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III before the Week 5 bye. Newton, Manning and Romo each threw for more than 4,000 yards last year while Griffin is one of the most dynamic rookie quarterbacks to enter the league in the past decade.
If Wright is suspended and the Bucs decide to play Barber at safety, Tampa Bay’s options at corner are limited. Nickel back E.J. Biggers struggled in 2011, former third-round pick Myron Lewis has only one pro start and Anthony Gaitor did not start a game during his rookie season last year.
Although Grimm has 12 career starts at safety, he has suffered a major injury (fractured fibula, torn ACL) in each of his first two NFL seasons.
When the Bucs announced Barber’s move to safety this spring, it appeared Grimm was the odd man out. Wright’s arrest could bring Grimm right back into the mix and return Barber to the position he has played with distinction for 15 seasons.