What did Bucs head coach Raheem Morris like about the play of his team in its 10-7 loss at Miami? Who were the players he singled out with praise in his post-game press conference? How serious in Maurice Stovall's ankle injury? Get the answers and more in this article.
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris found plenty to like and a few things to dislike in his team’s first preseason game, which resulted in a 10-7 loss at Miami after jumping out to a 7-0 lead behind the solid play of the starters.
“That was a really physical football game,” Morris said. “The guys played hard and played physical. Now we just have to add the smart part. We had too many penalties and too many fumbles and too many turnovers on opportunities to score.”
Tampa Bay out-played Miami, but committed seven penalties for 58 yards and had one interception and seven fumbles, losing three for turnovers.
“I was very pleased with rushing and I was very pleased with the way we ran the football,” Morris said. “I was very pleased with the way we threw the football, especially with that first unit. I was very pleased with what we did on defense stopping the run.
“Both first units played really well. Our first-team defense came out there and they got a couple stops. The first-team offense came out there and got a couple good plays, got stalled and then got going again and scored a touchdown.”
The Bucs out-gained the Dolphins 309-206 yards, out-rushing Miami 139-50 yards. Starter Cadillac Williams averaged 5.3 yards per carry, rushing for 21 yards on four carries. Third-string running back Kareem Huggins averaged 6.9 yards while rushing for 55 yards on eight carries.
“I was fired up about what Caddy was able to do,” Morris said. “He puts his pads on people and he runs physical like that. There were a couple more standout players there – the Kareem Huggins, the Cadillac – and what they were able to do with the football being physical and hard.”
Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman was perfect in Miami, completing 4-of-4 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown en route to a perfect QB rating of 158.3.
“What Freeman was able to do in going 100 percent and having a 158 rating at quarterback, he’s got to be mentioned as the standout player of the day,” Morris said.
Morris singled out the play of several young players who made positive contributions on Saturday night, including rookie Mike Williams, who has already emerged as the team’s starting split end.
“To see him get open on the sidelines and make a good play like that and have confidence from Josh to throw it to him, and to see him win in one-on-one coverage, which you have to do in this league, that was promising,” Morris said. “I’m very excited about him and hope to see more.”
Morris also praised the play of cornerback E.J. Biggers, a seventh-round pick in 2009 who spent last year on the practice squad. Biggers led the Bucs with four tackles, recovered a fumble in the red zone and broke up a pass while covering Miami’s Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
“Seeing E.J. Biggers going out there and making a big-time play for us on third down [with the fumble recovery],” Morris said. “He’s been hungry throughout the whole offseason and preseason. I’m fired up about what E.J. has been able to do. It is just one game, and he made one big play on a big receiver and that was impressive. Brandon Marshall is a big-time receiver and he was able to make a big play on a big down. I’m excited for him.”
With a couple more stellar performances like this, Biggers will beat out Elbert Mack and rookie Myron Lewis, who missed the Dolphins game with a hamstring injury, for the starting nickel cornerback role.
Although he did not record a tackle in his pro debut, 2010 first-round pick Gerald McCoy made an impact in Miami, according to Morris.
“It was great,” Morris said. “I got him out there with the first unit and my wish came true that we would get a two-minute [situation] and be able to put him out there and give him some two-minute rushes. Unfortunately he got the double team every time. We’ll get a chance to see him and evaluate him. Michael Bennett was able to go out there and get a sack and capitalize because of it. It was awesome.”INJURY NEWS
Bucs starting wide receiver Maurice Stovall injured his ankle while blocking for Cadillac Williams on a running play in the first quarter. He was carted off the field and was wearing a protective boot after the game.
“He had a sprained ankle,” Morris said. “I don’t know the extent of it right now. I’m just going to say day-to-day. It didn’t appear to be serious. We’ll get a feel for Stovall later – maybe [on Sunday].”
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