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Weapons, protection for Freeman on Dominik’s mind

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted March 05, 2011 @ 11:45 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

It would make sense for the Buccaneers to fill in the gaps on their defense — particularly at defensive end — in this year's draft, but GM Mark Dominik is cautioning observers to avoid getting caught up in the conventional wisdom. Tampa Bay tied for the second-fewest sacks in the league last season, so improving the pass rush will be crucial for the team. Dominik said help for QB Josh Freeman could also be on the way, however.

"(Freeman is) just touching what he can become, in our opinion," Dominik said at the Scouting Combine. "So any chance you have to keep him healthy, in terms of protecting him, or give him more toys or weapons to work with, we're going to do that. So I think a lot of people have pigeonholed us about what we're going to do in the draft. And I would say that I don't think a lot of people would have said we would take two defensive tackles back-to-back (in the first and second rounds) last year. So we're going to use the draft and stay true to our board and make sure we take the best player that can help us. And it may not be the position that everybody thinks we should take first, but it's going to be the best that we think is going to help our football team going forward."

It's smoke-screen season in the NFL, and no general manager is going to telegraph which position he's leaning toward addressing in the draft, but Dominik is mindful of continuing to stockpile young talent to grow with the franchise quarterback, as he should be. Freeman is the best thing the Bucs have going for them.

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