There are still some position battles left undecided as the Buccaneers head into their final preseason game of 2013 before hitting the regular season. With that said, the coaching staff will be hard at work leading into the Saturday, 4 PM deadline of cutting down rosters to 53 players. That hard work and evaluation continues Thursday night against the Redskins as there are still lots of players fighting to remain on the team.
SAM I AM
The battle for SAM (strongside) linebacker between Jonathan Casillas and Dekoda Watson has been a quiet one. Neither has stood out to the point of "wowing" anyone. But their work on the field has been closely monitored and the coaching staff has been watching tape to see who will be the winner. As of now, Casillas is the leader of the clubhouse as far as tackles but Watson has been seen more due to his special teams play. It may all come down to who stands out the most against the Redskins.
POUND THAT ROCK
I promise that’ll be the only Jon Gruden reference you read here. But if I was a betting man, I’d put my money on the fact that that line made famous by Gruden after the Bucs Super Bowl victory would have been floating around in the heads of Brian Leonard, Mike James, and Peyton Hillis as they slept last night if the ol’ ball coach was still around. On Thursday night, all three players will have their final opportunity to prove to the coaching staff that they belong on the 53-man roster. What’s to say that just one or two of three will make the cut and not all? Odds are slim that all three will be kept but that makes this position battle that much more interesting as Leonard, James and Hillis have all performed well to this point.
Kevin Ogletree and Tiquan Underwood appear to be the leading candidates to be the third receiver on the depth chart but after them, it’s still a mystery. Chris Owusu had a chance at the spot after starting out training camp better than others. However, after miscues against the Ravens and having to deal with an ankle issue, Owusu is now in danger of making the cut. Eric Page, David Douglas, and recently signed Jordan Norwood are all in the mix as well for roster spots. The return game will be a point of emphasis for the remaining receivers to crack the roster.
WHAT A RUSH
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim has gotten the majority of practice and game work over Da’Quan Bowers but neither are in danger of being cut. Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn, and Akeem Spence are other locks which puts the defensive line at five players. The battle for the remaining spots spots will come down to Derek Landri, Gary Gibson, Steven Means, William Gholston, and newcomer Trevor Scott among other that are all fighting to make the team. The team went into the 2012 season with eight defensive linemen. So if they are looking at three spots to match last year’s depth, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the roster moves for the defensive line.
PLAY HARD. PLAY SMART.
Many positions across the preseason roster are left undetermined as far as who stays and who goes. Some starters may get some playing time Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium and if they do, they must play at a good tempo to head into the season “rust-free” and ready to go. Because if they are in the game against Washington, it could mean the staff needs to see more work out of those players. But most importantly, they have to play injury-free football. The final game of the preseason is a final chance for many to showcase their skills and hope to make the team. Starters are starters for a reason. Tampa Bay can not afford to lose any player from the starting lineup for any period of time due to an injury suffered in the last preseason game.