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Buc TEs Missing in Red Zone

Posted Jun 1, 2010 by Ira Kaufman

Updated Jun 1, 2010 at 10:26 AM

By IRA KAUFMAN

TAMPA—They were supposed to spell double trouble in the red zone.

A year ago, Tampa Bay coaches talked often about how tight ends Kellen Winslow and Jerramy Stevens would present matchup problems for opposing defenses when the Bucs approached the goal-line, but those threats vanished as a 3-13 season played out in 2009.

Once Josh Freeman became the starting quarterback for the final nine games, Stevens and Winslow were no factors as red-zone targets. That’s a problem offensive coordinator Greg Olson must deal with if Tampa Bay’s offense is to improve markedly this fall.

Winslow caught one of Freeman’s three TD passes against Green Bay in the rookie’s first NFL start under center, but he failed to register another scoring reception the rest of the way.

Stevens, an imposing target at 6-foot-7, caught seven passes from Byron Leftwich in the first two weeks, including a TD reception at Buffalo, before disappearing from the attack. Stevens caught only eight passes in the final 14 games and never found the end zone again, failing to establish a rapport with the 6-6 Freeman.

Now the Bucs must decide whether Stevens, who turns 31 in November, can be productive in Olson’s offensive scheme. Stevens hasn’t generated any off-field headlines in his three seasons with the Bucs, but he has a checkered past and he’ll need a solid training camp to regain the confidence of a coaching staff that has been overhauled since Jon Gruden was dismissed after the 2008 season.

 

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