The Buccaneers saw some flashes from several players Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens in their preseason opener. Although the final score did not matter, these players who impressed the most could have been key contributors for a victory.
Kicker Derek Dimke
Dimke, who is fighting to become Tampa Bay's replacement to Connor Barth, had a great night Thursday. He went 3-for-3 on field goals — including one in the rain in the second quarter and a 45-yarder in the third quarter — and added an extra point. The former Illinois star has had a decent camp thus far and it showed against the Ravens.
Cornerback Johnthan Banks
Rookie Johnthan Banks was drafted in April to be a stable in the Buccaneers corner of the defense for the future. Banks showed his flashiness under the lights at Raymond James Stadium. He lead the team in tackles with five, including a text book hit on Baltimore's Bernard Pierce at the Ravens 11-yard line. In the second quarter Banks showed great pursuit on Baltimore quarterback Tyrod Taylor on a design quarterback roll out then two plays later, and he forced a fourth down after he met Ravens receiver Tandon Doss at the point of the pass arriving to break it up.
Running Back Brian Leonard
Not much was known about Brian Leonard when the Bucs signed him on April 1. After one preseason game, it's fair to say Leonard has good instincts. In the first quarter of the contest, on a third-and-7 from their own 36-yard line, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman connected with wide receiver Kevin Ogletree for a 22-yard pass. But that play happened because Leonard picked up a blitzing Ravens cornerback, allowing Freeman to complete the play. He would follow that up with a 13-yard run and also punch in a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Linebacker Lavonte David
Second-year linebacker Lavonte David picked up right where he left off last season — making tackles for loss. This time, he got into the backfield and sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco for a 10-yard loss. Although he played a short period of time, David registered three tackles and was in the Baltimore backfield on several occasions.
Wide Receiver Kevin Ogletree
It's a logjam at the receiver position with several players fighting for the third wide receiver spot. Who started out his campaign on the right foot was 26-year old Kevin Ogletree. He lead all receivers with eight targets and five receptions. He also lead in receiving yards with 65. Ogletree showed some good quickness off the line and good moves during his routes to beat Ravens cornerbacks.
The score ended with Baltimore winning the contest 44-16. That certainly would be disappointing in itself but the preseason is for evaluating and not keeping score. However, the final score was a result of poor play and that will frustrate the coaching staff.
Defensive End Da'Quan Bowers
As in training camp, the Bucs gave a lot of looks to third-year defensive end Da'Quan Bowers at both right and left ends as well as on the interior part of the line. Unfortunately, he was hardly a factor throughout his time on the field. Bowers played the entire first half and registered two tackles, one solo. To his credit, he shed off a double team to make a stop before the half. But aside from that, Bowers never got anything going.
Wide Receiver Chris Owusu
Another guy fighting to get into that third receiver position is Chris Owusu. He did not fare too well on offense nor in special teams. He muffed a punt return which lead to the Ravens recovering it at the Tampa Bay 18-yard line which lead to a Baltimore touchdown. Later he mishandled a kickoff and was targeted seven times, but only catching only two passes.
Safety Keith Tandy
The inexperienced Keith Tandy had some difficulties Thursday night, primarily in the coverage department. Tandy had a ball placed perfectly over him in the middle of the field which he could have broken up if he looked back. He was also called for a 15-yard facemask penalty while a pass was in the air. Tandy also whiffed on a couple tackles, including on Bernard Pierce at the 10-yard line which ended in a touchdown for the Ravens.
Cornerback Rashaan Melvin
One who got good reviews as training camp progressed, had a bad night against the Ravens. The undrafted rookie registered just one tackle — on special teams. He would later get turned around in the end zone by Ravens' LaQuan Williams. Melvin had a tough time covering Baltimore's receivers the entire night.
Defensive Tackle Akeem Spence
There was a lot of optimism surrounding Spence by the coaching staff. That optimism was shot down, at least for one night after Thursday. He recorded one tackle, which was combined and he had several issues against the Baltimore offensive line. Consistently double-teamed, the rookie had issues creating penetration and was constantly pushed back. At times, he was taken out of a play completely.