QB Tim Rattay Rattay replaced starter Chris Simms after just one offensive series. He got off to a decent start by spreading the ball around to different receivers and picking up a first down on a third-and-1 quarterback sneak, but Rattay imploded toward the end of the first half when he overthrew rookie wide receiver Maurice Stovall, fumbled the ball on a QB/center exchange and tossed an interception on a pass intended for WR David Boston on consecutive plays. Rattay completed 9-of-16 (56.2 percent) passes for 89 yards and tossed one interception. Not exactly the performance he wanted to turn in while competing with rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski for the No. 2 quarterback job.
DE Julian Jenkins Tampa Bay's fifth-round pick has impressed the Bucs coaching staff on special teams, but he struggled mightily on defense Thursday. Jenkins got run over several times, especially in the running game, where the Texans rushed for 134 yards in the first half alone and finished the game with 153 yards rushing on 29 carries (5.3 avg.). Jenkins had a difficult time holding up on Houston's seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive in the first quarter that saw running back Antowain Smith break off a 46-yard run. Smith finished the game with eight carries for 69 yards (8.6 avg.).
T Jeremy Trueblood Trueblood saw a significant amount of action at right tackle in Tampa Bay's preseason finale vs. Houston, but he had an inconsistent outing. He allowed Bucs QB Chris Simms to get rocked on a third down pass attempt on the first offensive series of the game. On the next series, Trueblood appeared to blow an assignment and allowed QB Tim Rattay to get pressured. To make matters worse, Tampa Bay's ground attack didn't fare well vs. Houston. While the Bucs gained 96 yards rushing on 23 carries (4.2 avg.), 47 of those rushing yards came via QB Bruce Gradkowski. Take away Gradkowski's rushing yards and three carries and the Bucs running backs rush for just 49 yards on attempts (2.4 avg.). Most of Tampa Bay's success via the ground game came on the left side of the offensive line, which was disappointing seeing as Trueblood is regarded as a strong run blocker.
FB Rick Razzano The blame for Tampa Bay's ground running game shouldn't be placed squarely on Trueblood's shoulders. Other players, including Razzano, played a part as well. Razzano, who is in a tight battle with veteran FB Jerald Sowell for a 53-man roster spot, struggled vs. the Texans. He used missed a block after using poor technique on a third-and-1 play to RB Earnest Graham, who got stopped short of the first down on the play in the first quarter. The Bucs went for it on the very next play, which was fourth-and-1, but Graham was stuffed once again and the Bucs turned the ball over on downs on their own 35-yard line. Razzano continued to struggle in the second quarter when he dropped out of the backfield, which was something he did way too often during training camp.
CB Alan Zemaitis Tampa Bay's fourth-round pick out of Penn State got picked on quite a bit in man-to-man coverage on Thursday night. Zemaitis allowed Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels hit his receiver David Anderson twice on one drive in the first quarter. Both catches kept the chains moving and resulted in first downs. In the second quarter, the Texans went back after Zemaitis by completing a pass on a comeback route near the sideline off of play action. That play put the Texans in position to kick a 40-yard field goal. Tampa Bay's defense surrendered 260 yards of total offense in the first half. Zemaitis led the team with six tackles, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing.