One of the best problems to have in football is possessing starting quality depth, especially along the offensive line. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers feel as though they are dealing with such a problem.
A week ago, head coach Bruce Arians suggested that there was a battle ensuing for Tampa Bay's starting right guard spot, between incumbent starter Alex Cappa and fifth-year pro Aaron Stinnie.
Cappa suffered a season-ending injury in the playoffs last year which led Stinnie to his starting debut with the Bucs - and the former undrafted prospect from James Madison went on to allow just one sack through the rest of the postseason.
"I mean it's closer than you might think," Arians said last week. "It's a good situation. It's a great competition. Yeah, there's a little bit of a battle but it's Cap's job to lose."
'Cap' wouldn't lose his grip on the starting role, as just a week later, Arians shared that he had performed well enough in his return from injury to open the 2021 season as a member of Tampa Bay's front five. Arians pointed to Cappa's showing against the Texans this past Saturday as the reason why.
"Cap probably graded out the highest of the offensive line. He had a really good ballgame, so that's pretty solidified," Arians said on Sunday. "Aaron is much better on the right side than he is [on] the left, but he got a bunch of left-side snaps, so he did get better that way. We're very confident in both those guys."
According to Pro Football Focus, Cappa logged 18 snaps offensively on Saturday night and allowed just one quarterback pressure on 14 passing plays. He also earned a run-blocking grade of 59.0, which is considered average on PFF's grading scale.
Stinnie, meanwhile, was on the field for 49 snaps offensively, every rep being at left guard as Arians indicated. Stinnie actually graded out better than Cappa in both categories by giving up zero pressures and posting his preseason-best run-blocking grade with a 66.8. However, keep in mind, Stinnie's efforts came against Houston's second-team defense.
Cappa had himself a solid season a year ago before his injury, not giving up a sack during the entire regular season and grading out as an average run blocker all season long, although he did give up 27 pressures. Still, Tampa Bay can feel confident in starting Cappa given his production and the 29 starts he has under his belt over the past two seasons.
That being said, Stinnie's emergence provides Tampa Bay with high-quality depth along the interior offensive line, who could make a push into the starting lineup should injuries occur or any linemen begin to regress.
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