Tampa Bay Buccaneers preseason primer

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2006 season recap

Doomed from the start
Coming off an NFC South title in 2005, the Buccaneers entered the 2006 season with high expectations. That outlook changed dramatically after a 27-0 loss to Baltimore in Week 1 and quarterback Chris Simms' season-ending injury in Week 3. The Buccaneers never recovered, finishing a disappointing 5-11.

Key camp questions

Can the defense regain its top-10 form while incorporating younger players?
Tampa Bay's defense has been among the league's best for a long time, but nobody stays young forever, and the Bucs are now starting to groom young players for key roles in the future. The unit that takes the field this fall will be a blend of long-time veterans and promising rookies. The key to the Bucs restoring their reputation as one of the league's best defenses will be how well the young guys fit in.

Who will be the starting quarterback?
Video: Jeff Garcia on his approach and Jon Gruden on the progress of the QB battle
Jeff Garcia appears to be the man, but he must show he can be the quarterback who led the Eagles into the playoffs last year and not the one who fizzled in previous stints with Cleveland and Detroit.

Can Michael Clayton regain his rookie form?
In his first year, Clayton caught 80 passes for 1,193 yards. Beset by injuries in his second and third seasons, Clayton had a combined 65 receptions for only 728 yards. With Maurice Stovall putting forth a major challenge for the starting spot opposite Joey Galloway, Clayton needs to prove he is healthy and can return to the form he displayed as a rookie. A healthy and productive Clayton would give Tampa Bay a valuable option in the passing attack that was sorely missing last season.

Key position battle

While Jeff Garcia already has been named the starter, Chris Simms still is hopeful of regaining his job, and Bruce Gradkowski is trying to show he has improved after an inconsistent rookie year. Jake Plummer is the wild card. If he decides to un-retire and show up to camp, he could be the biggest challenger to Garcia.

Rookie spotlight

DE Gaines Adams
Initially expected to go somewhere in the top 10-12 picks, Adams went a little earlier when Tampa Bay grabbed him with the fourth overall pick. The same day the Bucs signed Adams to a new contract,
they cut veteran Simeon Rice opening up the possibility that he could start opposite Greg Spires or Kevin Carter.

Player on the spot

RB Cadillac Williams
After running for 1,178 yards and being named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in his first season, Williams fell off dramatically last year. He ran for only 798 yards and a paltry 3.5 yards per carry as Tampa Bay's passing attack struggled and defenses stacked up against the run. A second poor season could endanger Williams' standing as the featured back.

Fantasy focus

WR Maurice Stovall
Stovall might not be the most well-known wide receiver in fantasy football, but he does have a chance to be a decent sleeper if he can unseat Michael Clayton and emerge as a starter opposite veteran Joey Galloway. Stovall is well worth a late-round flier in leagues with 12-plus teams.

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