Game Two of the preseason was just like a second game of the pre-season. With the exception of Josh Freeman's injury, the Bucs have been relatively healthy. If you count Week One as the basis for formulating how this team will perform, you might have mixed emotions about the win Saturday night. I know I do. Here are some random thoughts about the game:
• This is the second week I've heard a receiver speak about "the look" between himself and the quarterback. Last week, it was Mike Williams talking about Freeman. This week, it was Arrelious Benn talking about Rudy Carpenter. Who's teaching that skill? Or, are they learning it on their own through repetition? I know that offensive coordinator Greg Olson has his detractors and many have inferred the team needs a veteran QB as a backup. But, logically, it would make sense that Olson and quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt are getting it done. That "look" is an advanced skill; usually obtained with years of experience and big time reps between receiver and quarterback. We know Carpenter is not receiving a lot of reps so it's highly unlikely that repetition is his friend right now. It would seem to me that the players are being coached up on how to make that subtle tion. And that's a good "look."
• Overall, the team looked a little sluggish. I hate to make excuses or even bring it up but they looked like they had "camp legs." Let's not confuse that with lack of effort, which was not seen or observed. However, the defensive line didn't come alive until the second team came in the game. Sure, they have the most to lose or gain by playing hard, but at the same time, they take fewer reps than the first team by default.
• Apparently, the "camp legs" didn't spare the offensive line, or at least it looked that way when it came to run blocking for Derrick Ward. Funny how he had three carries for four yards in the first half and Kareem Huggins had three carries for 22 yards.
• I'm just as upset about Freeman as the rest of you. With that being said, I'm behind Josh Johnson 100 percent. I'm not one who subscribes to the old veteran backup theory. Right now, who'd be in there for the Bucs? A close-to-being-has-been kind of guy? Johnson is young, smart, and athletic. He's been taking second-team reps and will now receive first-team reps. None of those things are bad for a guy who could put it all together for you right before your eyes here in the preseason. Not being a doctor, I'm sure if Freeman played in the season opener he would be monitored and speculated upon based on the injury report. While he needs to play, I don't expect or want him to play injured. Small setback for Freeman, but another huge opportunity for Johnson.
• There is no overlooking Huggins. This kid has an explosive burst to the line of scrimmage, but it's controlled by his immaculate vision. He is not afraid to hit the hole. He hits it low and churns until he comes out the other end and then kicks it into another gear. Will he be the new Mr. August? Or will he replace the lackluster Ward?
• Does anyone still doubt Mike Williams?
• Speaking of receivers, without Maurice Stovall and a virtual no- show from Michael Clayton, those guys look decent. They could be strong for the team vs. a burden on the team. I've always liked Micheal Spurlock; this dude is fighting for a spot as a receiver. We know he's got return abilities with speed to burn. My favorite guy is Sammie Stroughter. On the field, he seems to be in the right places at the right times. He's not been called for any silly penalties, which tells me he knows his playbook and he makes catches when his number is called. Off the field, he's a delightful interview. Always respectful and his glass is more than half-full, it's running over.• Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy seemed a little more active as the game went on. While it's great respect to be double-teamed on your very first play, and those there after, in the league, McCoy, you need to beat that double and stop fighting at the line of scrimmage. We all know Warren Sapp is your boy and you guys have hit it off. Cut to the chase and make your next session with Sapp about beating that defense against you. He was one of the best I've ever seen do it. It's the second game. There's still not anything to get up in arms about at this time; at least not in my mind. I'm not ready to make any wild, sweeping predictions, but I didn't feel bad about the way they played. And they won. I feel like Allen Iverson, "Man, we talking bout practice!" And as long as it's practice, the mistakes shouldn't be overlooked but understood that this is the time and place for them to be made.