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5 Most Disappointing Bucs
DE GAINES ADAMS
On the first two possessions by the Tennessee Titans, quarterback Kerry Collins dropped back to pass six times. Adams did not sniff Collins on one of the pass attempts. Adams was removed from the game after the Titans second offensive possession. Adams tried speed rushes and bull rushes, and neither was successful at getting away from the offensive tackle and putting some pressure on the quarterback. The Titans had no trouble blocking Adams. In a big season for Adams' career, it got off to a bad start with a missing-in-action performance in the first game of the preseason.
RB EARNEST GRAHAM
Graham had a tough start to rushing the ball against Tennessee. Graham's first four carries totaled one yard. The offensive line did Graham no favors by not opening up holes for him, but Graham did not make any defenders miss. Graham's rough night continued when he caught a pass in the flat from quarterback Luke McCown and fumbled when he was hit by Titans defensive back Cortland Finnegan. Graham's night did not look any better when Derrick Ward and Clifton Smith took over and had more success running the ball. The later two had the advantage of playing against backup defenders. Still, Graham is a starter and has to be able to make defenders miss and hold onto the football.
WR MAURICE STOVALL
Wide receiver Maurice Stovall was the target on a number of throws, but the big wideout only caught one pass. On the first play of the game Stovall ran the wrong route. Stovall was supposed to run a hitch, but instead ran a nine and the pass from McCown sailed incomplete. That play was the catalyst for a three-and-out on the first possession for the Bucs offense. On a third-and-3 Byron Leftwich threw a short jump pass that Stovall did not fight to snare out of the sky. Stovall's one reception was an eight-yard reception from quarterback Leftwich. Stovall was the target on a number of other passes. Once Stovall got a step on cornerback Cary Williams. Leftwich's pass was too long for Stovall, but the big wide receiver did not dive for the pass and with his long frame may have been able to reach it. Stovall could be a physical mismatch for defensive backs, but up to this point in his career has not imposed his strength and physicality on defensive backs. Against the Titans in the first preseason game of year four for Stovall, there was no change as he did not fight to get receptions with a number of passes thrown his direction.
QB JOSH FREEMAN
Freeman's night started out with him completing 3-of-5 passes for 26 yards. The sixth pass from Freeman was a disaster. On a quick drop Freeman threw to wide receiver Pat Carter. Carter ran a short, stop route in the flat. The pass was telegraphed as Freeman stared down Carter the whole route. Titans rookie cornerback Ryan Mouton broke on the ball and easily intercepted the pass. With the pass being in the flat, Mouton had open field in front of him and he easily ran 29 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. It was a terrible pass from Freeman and a bad decision. That wasn't the only pass that Freeman should not have thrown. His first pass was forced into wide receiver Mario Urrutia, and that pass was easily broken up cornerback Tanard Davis. After the pick six, Freeman came out for another possession. He had a good pass to rookie wideout Sammie Stroughter for a gain of 20 yards. Freeman used some mobility and delivered the ball in stride to Stroughter. The final pass of the night for Freeman was on fourth-and-2 with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Freeman threw for a covered Stroughter. Davis easily broke it up, and the pass was dangerously close to another interception. It clearly was a rough debut for the Buccaneers rookie signal caller.
S DONTE NICHOLSON
In Tampa 2 coverage safety Donte Nicholson let wide receiver Kenny Britt run right behind him and get wide open in the end zone. Quarterback Vince Young stepped up, and aired out an easy 37-yard touchdown pass to Britt. Nicholson's mistake is even worse considering he is a veteran that has a lot of experience in playing the Tampa 2. There is no reason for Nicholson to allow a receiver to run straight downfield by him in any coverage, but especially in the Tampa 2 where Nicholson knows the safety is responsible for the deep part of the field on his side.