1. Got Special Teams?
Special teams coach Dave Wannstedt was not happy with his unit after their performance from last Thursday’s game against Baltimore. Since then, the team has started each practice with extended kick and punt sessions emphasizing the importance of special teams. After muffed punts, poor handling on kickoff returns by returners, and a blocked punt, the extra work in practice was expected. Keep a close eye on punts and kickoffs on Friday night as the Bucs perhaps mix up their personnel in hopes of getting better results.
2. Oh No - Not Again
The Bucs had problems getting to the quarterback and applying pressure from their front four in 2012. That continued in Week 1 of the preseason. Aside from three-technique tackle Gerald McCoy getting into the Ravens backfield on the first four plays of last week’s game, the line was unable to get any penetration. Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers played the entire first half and nose tackle Akeem Spence was seen a considerable amount as well but neither made that much of an impact. Slight changes have already been seen in practice, like pairing Bowers with the second team or playing him strictly on third downs. Expect to see more of a mix across the line in New England.
3. The Offensive Line Was Offensive
Last Thursday night, Ravens defenders got into the Buccaneers backfield quite a bit, taking down Josh Freeman on the game's third play. In fact, Baltimore defensive tackle Marcus Spears was at the feet of Mike Glennon when Glennon completed his first career pass to tight end Tom Crabtree that went for 61 yards. Spears tumbled into the backfield after rookie running back Mike James barely got a shoulder on him. If James was not there, it could have been bad for the rookie quarterback from N. C. State. However, it didn’t stop there as Glennon continued to see pressure throughout the game. Also, running backs had issues gaining any yardage on the ground. The line will face another tough task creating holes and protecting Buccaneer quarterbacks against the Patriots 3-4 base defense in New England.
4. A Star In The Making?
Rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks had an exceptional game last week in his limited time. He lead the team in tackles with five and had a couple pass break ups against the Ravens. Banks also showed great instincts by closing in on Ravens quarterback Tyrod Taylor on a design rollout. He has been tested often this week in New England by All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady and will continued to get tested in the game against that high-profile Patriots offense.
5. Show Something
Quarterback Josh Freeman saw limited action in Week 1. In his short appearance, he had a couple good throws and a few bad throws — like the one he threw towards the sideline as wide receiver Mike Williams ran an in-route. That is what has frustrated many about Freeman. With a chance of getting more looks Friday, Freeman has to begin his quest for a new contract by showing, on national television, that he is the leader in the clubhouse in the nationally hyped quarterback competition. If Freeman performs well and limits the miscommunications with his receivers, the Kansas State product should silence some critics and provide a sense of optimism for the doubters.