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August 27, 2014 @ 7:13 pm
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Fourth Game Time For Backups To Impress; Mankins Will Not Play

Written by Eric
Horchy
Eric Horchy

Eric
Horchy

Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 With the cut down to 53 players looming on Saturday, it is critical for the backups to show off everything they have in an effort to make the final active roster as the starters will play little if any according to head coach Lovie Smith.
Players trying to improve playing time potential and lock up reserve roles on this year’s roster get one last live-action opportunity to impress Buccaneers decision makers Thursday night against Washington.

As for the starters, Bucs fans will likely have to wait until the Sept. 7 season opener against division-rival Carolina to see them perform at Raymond James Stadium. Preseason finales are typically used by NFL teams to evaluate backups and guys on the bubble.

Although his responses differed slightly at times, head coach Lovie Smith said it’s been his standard policy as a head coach to keep expected starters on the sideline during the fourth game.

“As I said earlier in the week, we’ll play a lot of our backups for the majority of the game,” Smith said during Tuesday afternoon’s press conference. “Starters won’t play an awful lot, of course they know that. That’s why we had a long practice today. I just felt like we needed to get some good work with some of our front line guys.”

When asked about his struggling but recently bolstered offensive line and its participation Thursday, Smith firmed up his response about starters not playing at all.

“As a general rule, we use the first three preseason games in order to get ready for the season,” Smith said. “The final one, I never have and don’t plan on [playing the starters]. We feel good about the group that we’re going with and for most of those guys it’s time to get ready for Carolina. To develop our football team this is an important game for us and for some of our backups that didn’t play a lot last week. We weren’t pleased with how some of our seconds played. We want to get a good look at them, so there are a lot of things that we need to [look at].”

Smith added that newly acquired guard Logan Mankins, a nine-year veteran who will jump right into the starting offensive line, is not going to play.

“We’re going to start immediately trying to catch Logan up,” Smith said. “We didn’t bring him here to be a backup and sit him on the bench and all the stuff. So it’s about getting him up to date as soon as we possibly can. We have an excellent offensive line coach in George Warhop and as soon as we get him in he’ll start.”

Mankins is expected to take over at left guard, a position tenuously held by Oniel Cousins for the past two games.

For what it’s worth, considering starters have played varying portions of the past three games, Tampa Bay owns the second-worst yards-per-game average in the NFL (243.3). Bucs blockers’ struggles to open running lanes have resulted in an average of 90.7 rushing yards per game and 3.0 per carry.

With starting running back Doug Martin not expected to play Thursday and rookie Charles Sims out nearly two more months, Tampa Bay backups Jeff Demps, Mike James and Bobby Rainey will split up the handoffs from second- and-third string quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Mike Kafka, respectively. James has been limited this training camp with a shoulder injury, but said Tuesday he should be good to go on Thursday.

“It’s very critical,” James said of getting reps this week. “You always want to be healthy to put good things on film and that’s what I want to do. Injuries are part of the game. They happen and they create opportunities for other people. One thing you want to do whenever your number’s called, no matter what happens for it to be called, you just want to make sure you’re able to perform.

Tampa Bay and all other NFL teams are mandated to cut rosters down to their final 53-man maximums by 4 p.m. Sunday. The Bucs cut T Matt Patchan, CB Deveron Carr and T J.B. Shugarts while getting down to the 75-man roster threshold by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren and DB Marc Anthony were added Tuesday and CB Danny Gorrer, who was initially placed on injured reserve, was released Wednesday afternoon with an injury settlement.




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  • avatar


    Our scrubs don't match other team's overall. I don't expect a Buc's victory tomorrow. So far Kafka has been superior to Albatross Glennon. I expect to see Kafka outplay him once again. Then we will see if this is a true competition, or whether Lovie plays favorites in picking his second QB for this season. I hope he puts the 53 best players on the field against Charlotte! Good to hear James will play! We need him healthy.
  • avatar


    Like everyone, I will be watching interior offensive line play. Who will play opposite Mankins and who should be kept for back-ups? Is that guy on the team now? I will also be watching the defensive line battle between English, Means, and Solomon. Then I want to see the secondary too. After Verner, Banks, and Jenkins, what other 3 CBs will earn the right to play on Sunday? Of all the UDFAs that we signed this year which one, if any, deserves a spot on the 53 roster? Did anyone standout and make his case for the 53 roster? I know its scrub night, but I will watch the whole game! PR, will you publish your final 53 roster projection on Friday before cut downs? Always fun!
  • avatar


    LOL Morgan just found out the NFL charges full price for pre-season games. Not about the Glazers, it's NFL policy. But it does really SUCK!! I end up donating them to charity at least half the time, both games this season. But hell, the real pigskins fly in just 11 days. As for Mankins, no WAY I'd expect him to be on the field. ALL about the playbook and practice until Carolina comes to town. Will be watching on TV of course and hope to see Glennon continue to grow, the rest of the back-ups getting valuable playing time. The next big day is the Sunday cut down to 53. THAT will be newsworthy and very interesting.
  • avatar


    Hard to believe Glazers charge full price per ticket for a meaningless game where none of the regulars play on either team.
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