The Battle at Wide Receiver

Ed Gant high-stepping his way into the end zone at FedEx Field.

One of the earliest developing stories of the 2012 Buccaneers training camp was the open roster spot left in the wake of the team’s decision to waive third-year wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe.

On day one of camp, a noticeable shift in the receiving corps had taken place that caught the eyes of Bucs faithful.  Practice squad laborer and fan favorite, Ed Gant had made his way into the third slot during passing drills with Josh Freeman.

The twenty-five year-old product out of the University of North Alabama (yes, the same North Alabama where Preston Parker resurrected his college career) took his place in line, after Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.  Arrelious Benn followed Gant in what came as a bit of a shock.

Could it be that the new coaching staff had gotten wind of Gant’s post-practice workouts?  Had they seen the tape of his 96-yard touchdown reception against the Redskins during the 2011 preseason?  Did they plan to replace Briscoe with Gant all along?

Gant’s recent achievement became short-lived when former Rutgers wideout and high-top fade sporting Tiquan Underwood compiled two impressive days to start camp.  Underwood caught more than a couple deep passes during 7-on-7 drills.  By day three, Underwood had taken the third spot, in front of Parker who filled in for Benn when he sprained his MCL.

Underwood, who is entering his fourth year in the NFL, not only has a leg up on Gant in the experience column, but he also has an established relationship with Head Coach Greg Schiano from his days in college.  Schiano mentioned that Underwood had displayed his abilities so far in camp and had caught some “chunk” plays during his post-practice press conference on day four.

This position battle, which also includes Sammie Stroughter who brings a decent punt return game to the table, should be one to watch for the remainder of the pre-season.