CB Alan Zemaitis Cornerback Alan Zemaitis has done little to impress during the preseason and with his performance on Thursday night, he is quickly writing his ticket out of town. He was picked on during the Houston Texans’ first scoring drive of the game. He was seen on the ground after Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones pushed him down to catch a second down reception. Zemaitis was beaten again by Jones in the back of the end zone for a touchdown on the same drive. Zemaitis didn’t even turn his head around to play the ball and Jones went up over him to pull down the catch. Zemaitis finished the game with three tackles.
RB Kenneth Darby After an impressive showing against New England to open the preseason, rookie running back Kenneth Darby has regressed in the offense. On a third down play, Darby ran the wrong route out of the backfield and was seen being yelled at by head coach Jon Gruden. The speed and instinct that Darby showed against the Patriots hasn’t been seen in the three games since. After running back Earnest Graham’s impressive outing against the Texans, Darby, who rushed six times for 19 yards (3.2 avg.) and caught two passes for 15 yards, is making it hard for the Bucs to keep him on the roster.
T Donald Penn Even though tackle Donald Penn’s run blocking was consistent for the second consecutive game, his pass blocking was less than average for most of the contest. The one mistake in run blocking for Penn came in a reverse to wide receiver David Boston that went for no gain after Penn blew his assignment against Texans defensive end N.D. Kalu. Kalu gave Penn problems in the first quarter as he got by Penn with a speed rush to sack quarterback Luke McCown and force a fumble that was returned for a 36-yard touchdown by cornerback Jamar Fletcher.
LB Ryan Nece With injuries at the linebacker position, Ryan Nece has received the opportunity to get more playing time. Nece, however, hasn’t taken advantage of that opportunity, which was evident Thursday against the Texans. During the Texans’ final drive of the half that yielded a field goal, Nece was caught out of position on the backside of the play on a first down running play. On the second play, a screen pass to running back Wali Lundy, Nece was pancaked by tackle Jordan Black allowing Lundy to gain 12 yards. Nece was pancaked again late in the third quarter on a running play by tackle Kasey Studdard. Nece’s job in the middle is to be quick in to pursue the ball and he did neither against the Texans. He finished the game with two tackles.
WR Maurice Stovall Wide receiver Maurice Stovall has shown flashes during practice, but has yet to bring those flashes on game day. Stovall showed little ability to separate from defensive backs on deep pass patterns. Quarterback Luke McCown tried to hook up with Stovall on a deep corner route in the first half, but Stovall was unable to create space on the route. Early in the fourth quarter, Stovall had a pass hit his hands, but dropped the ball. Even though quarterback Bruce Gradkowski threw the ball a little behind Stovall, he has got to make that catch. Stovall caught just one pass for 9 yards against Houston on Thursday night.
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