The Bucs have a number of issues to address on defense, but stopping the run is not among them. Tampa Bay led the NFL in rushing defense in 2013, limiting opponents to 3.5 yards per attempt.

A major reason for that success: The play of nose tackle Roy Miller, who produced, perhaps, his best season as a pro. His numbers (24 tackles) won’t reflect it, as is often the case for nose tackles. But Miller contributed significantly to the Bucs’ greatly-improved rushing defense with stout play at the line of scrimmage.

In a few weeks, Miller becomes an unrestricted free agent. Despite that, we’ve learned there have been no substantive contract talks between Miller and the Bucs, calling into question the team's commitment to re-signing its 2009 third-round pick.

There’s still plenty of time for talk; if unsigned, Miller, 25, won’t hit the open market until March 12, when the free-agent signing period begins.

But the apparent lack of interest is somewhat surprising. The Bucs lauded Miller’s play during the season. Coach Greg Schiano had Miller play the so-called “tilted nose”, aligning him at angle rather than head up on an offensive lineman. And Miller thrived in the role for which Schiano said Miller is “custom built.”

“He's a heck of a run-stopper,” Schiano added.

And if you ask the opinion of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who is close to Miller, he’d tell you Miller is a keeper. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan in December spoke to the impact of Miller’s play on McCoy, who made his first Pro Bowl in 2012.

“I think how Roy has played and how physical he is in the run game has given a chance for. . . Gerald to get a single block, get off and make plays,” Sheridan said. “I think Roy has had a very good year. He's been very disruptive. He's a guy a lot of times you need to put two blockers on or else he's got a chance to really knock the center back and get in the backfield.”