The Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep adding cornerback talent to their roster and it is looking more and more likely that 2013 second-round pick Johnthan Banks could be the odd man out in a suddenly crowded defensive backfield.
Buccaneers sideline reporter TJ Rives joined “Jaguars Today” on 1010 XL in Jacksonville on Friday and said that Banks, a former Mississippi State player, knows he is in a serious battle for his roster spot.
“Johnthan Banks is in a fight for his Buccaneers survival and he knows that,” Rives said. “He’s basically said as much that it is on the line here, this preseason for him to make the football team. He knows that.”
Banks, a starter in 2013 and 2014, has fallen down the depth chart in part because of personnel moves, which include the signing of 2013 Pro Bowl corner Alterraun Verner and the drafting of Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. He’s also currently playing for his third head coach and defensive coordinator in just four seasons in the league.
When Rives was asked about where Banks currently stands on the Tampa Bay roster he was blunt in his response.
“He stands on the outside looking in, I think, and something better change in a hurry for him because he was not out with the twos last Thursday night,” Rives said. “He was out with the threes and playing in the second half and playing special teams. So might he get a look with the twos against the Jags? Let’s see.”
The Buccaneers travel to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in their second preseason game Saturday night.
Banks has been a part of a Tampa Bay pass defense that has struggled over the past few seasons, giving up 59 passing touchdowns in the last two alone. The Bucs haven’t finished any better than 21st in points allowed in the three seasons that Banks has been there.
“He has a tremendous amount of talent,” Rives said. “He has length. He has long arms. He’s big. He is bigger than Verner and Hargreaves and (Brent) Grimes, so if you’re looking for the bigger athletic corner that’s the guy, but again this is a different coaching staff and they are not married to the former players and the former regime.”
During his first two seasons with the Bucs, Banks (6 feet 2, 185 pounds) had seven interceptions and 15 passes defended while playing as a full-time starters. When he was reduced to more of a situational role last season, he didn’t record an interception and had only one defended pass.
Banks, a four-year player at Mississippi State from 2009-12, was a first-team All-American and All-SEC selection during his senior season in 2012 with the Bulldogs. He also won the Jim Thorpe Award that year and finished his career with 16 interceptions, tying him for the school record with Walt Harris.
(You can follow Tony Smith on Twitter @1010xlfattony)
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