Buccaneers S Cody Grimm's rookie year came to an end after he broke his left fibula in the second quarter of Tampa Bay's loss to Baltimore in Week 12, but we hear he proved himself enough to ensure that he will be a top contender, if not the definite starter, at free safety when he returns before next season.
Heading into Week 13, Grimm is tied for the team lead in tackles by a defensive back (57) and he also made two interceptions, scored a touchdown and forced a fumble.
Grimm went from a seventh-round pick that the Bucs were hoping could help on special teams in Year One to the starting free safety after FS Tanard Jackson was suspended indefinitely for violating the league's substance-abuse policy for a second time. With Jackson out of the mix, Tampa Bay turned to Grimm instead of disgruntled fourth-year veteran Sabby Piscitelli, who had been demoted after starting 15 games last season, to take over at the position, and Grimm surpassed the Bucs' expectations by a wide margin in his nine starts.
Corey Lynch, a special-teams contributor for the Bucs since they signed him off the Bengals' practice squad last season, will start for Grimm at free safety in Week 13 after beating out recent practice-squad call-up Vince Anderson in practice this week.
Tampa Bay signed rookie S Larry Asante off the Browns' practice squad after Grimm was placed on I.R., and Piscitelli was waived before being claimed by Cleveland.
We hear Asante could be groomed to compete with Grimm for a starting spot in 2011, but Jackson is still the Bucs' best safety and he could return to the starting lineup when his suspension is lifted, which will be no earlier than Week Three of next season. After two suspensions, Jackson isn't exactly on firm footing with the league or the Bucs, however.
Head coach Raheem Morris has a history with Asante, a Browns 2010 fifth-round pick. Morris said he tried to recruit Asante to play linebacker when Morris coached at Kansas State, but Asante chose to attend Nebraska. For now, Asante is backing up Sean Jones at strong safety, but Tampa Bay cross-trains its safeties so they know both the free and strong positions.