With the Miami Dolphins heading up state to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday, I contacted Sander from our SB Nation sister site, Bucs Nation. Not only does Sander run an excellent site for our NFC cousins, but he somehow does it from The Netherlands. Talk about impressive. He agreed to trade five questions with me about tomorrow's game.
1. The Phinsider - I don't follow Kansas State football, but whenever I saw Josh Freeman, I liked the kid. Now, as an established starter, and an up-and-coming star, I am happy to see him doing well. What do you expect out of Freeman this year, and where do you expect him to rank among the league's quarterbacks at the end of the season?
Bucs Nation - I expect Freeman to move up into the top 6 to 10 range this season. I don't think he's going to challenge any of the really elite quarterbacks, but there is really no reason why he can't continue to grow and improve. He should show a greater control of the offense. The one thing he has to do that he couldn't do last season is start a game playing well, and hopefully that will change this season.
2. TP -
In the same offseason that the Dolphins moved on from running back Ronnie Brown
, you guys, ironically, moved on from Brown's former Auburn backfield mate, Cadillac Williams. The Buccaneers' move was obviously precipitated by the strength of LeGarrette Blount
's rookie campaign (1,007 yards on 201 carries, with 6 touchdowns) - a guy who fell out of the 2010 draft due to his incident against Boise State in Oregon's opening game of 2009, and then was released by the Tennessee Titans
during training camp. Do you expect the same (or better) production from Blount this year, or is a sophomore slump a possibility, now that the league knows about him?
BN - I don't expect a sophomore slump from Legarrette Blount, although that's always possible - the running game has looked sluggish in the preseason so far. Still, Blount is clearly the lead back for the Buccaneers, he will get the bulk of the carries, and they're going to try to build their running game around him. Last year he was very, very raw and mostly running on instinct. While the lack of an offseason has hurt him, he should know the offense better this season. That should allow to do better than last season.
3. TP - What new comer to the Bucs excites you the most?
BN - I really like what I've seen out of Adrian Clayborn so far. Clayborn looks very, very strong against the run, which has been an area of concern for the Bucs the past seasons. He has not looked like a special pass rusher, but he has looked a lot better in that area than I initially expected when the Bucs drafted him. Clayborn should really boost the Bucs defense.
4. TP -
With a strange offseason/training camp, it seems like the preseason games are being played differently by every team, every week. Week 1 against the Falcons
saw the Dolphins treat the game as a glorified practice, and they worked on what they wanted to, rather than what the game situation dictated. Last week against the Panthers
, Miami actually game planned part of the offense, and seemed to be getting closer to a game-like mentality. This week is typically the dress rehearsal for the season, which is I would expect to see the Dolphins - if the starters don't end up playing more than they would in a normal preseason game 3. Have you seen a similar adjustment by the Buccaneers, and what would you expect to see during the game?
BN - The Bucs have played their starters more than usual in both games, but have not really gameplanned for either of the two past games, seemingly treating them the same way. This should change this week, as they've said they're treating this more like a normal game. The starters should play at least the entire first half.
5. TP - The Yahoo! Sports Phinsider Official Fantasy Football League is scheduled to conduct its draft tonight. Who from the Bucs, other than who we have already discussed, should our readers be considering in the draft?
BN - One player I'd consider higher than he's usually being drafted is Kellen Winslow. Winslow has not played a huge role in the Bucs' offense last year in terms of targets, but there are a lot of reasons to think he's going to produce much better this season. This is the first time in year that he has not had offseason knee surgery. He has looked terrific in training camp, and has spent much of the offseason working out with Josh Freeman. I really expect Winslow to put up big numbers this season.
TP - Random extra question - Does Ronde Barber actually think Tiki is going to make it back into the league? I mean, really think that? Is there any chance it's really Ronde deciding he wants to play running back instead corner back?
BN - I have no idea what Ronde thinks Tiki can or can't do, but it sure doesn't look like anyone's remotely interested in a 36-year old running back who hasn't played since 2006. Big surprise there.
A big thank you to Sander for agreeing to do this. Watch Bucs Nation for my answers to his questions.
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