5 Most Impressive Bucs
LB Cato June
Tampa Bay strongside linebacker Cato June helped to set the tone early against Miami on Saturday night. After a great Josh Bidwell punt, which pinned the Dolphins inside their 10-yard line, Miami ran its first offensive play from scrimmage. Dolphins quarterback Trent Green took the snap and attempted to set up a screen pass to running back Ronnie Brown. But June, who is arguably Tampa Bay’s fastest linebacker, recognized the play and quickly moved in to make a play on Brown and the ball. Not only did he make a play on the ball, June practically stole it out of Brown’s hands for an interception and worked his way into the end zone for a 2-yard score, which put the Bucs up 7-0 early in the first quarter. June finished the game with three tackles, one interception, one pass defensed and one touchdown.
WR Joey Galloway
Bucs wide receiver Joey Galloway has been no stranger to the end zone. He’s scored 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Although Jeff Garcia is new to Tampa Bay, it looks as though Galloway and the 37-year-old quarterback are already developing quite a rapport on the football field. During the second quarter with Tampa Bay driving deep into Miami territory, Garcia took the snap from center and fell under some duress. Galloway ran a comeback route, but broke off of that route and ran full speed into the back of the end zone after he saw Garcia in trouble. Garcia stepped up in the pocket and threw a beautiful 26-yard pass to Galloway, who had beat Dolphins safety Travares Tillman on the play, for a touchdown, which tied the game up at 14 all. That great play capped off an impressive eight-play, 76-yard scoring drive that was made possible by Galloway’s improvisation. Galloway finished the game with two catches for 39 yards and a touchdown.
QB Bruce Gradkowksi
With most of the talk regarding Tampa Bay’s quarterback position revolving around Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown and Chris Simms this preseason, Bucs QB Bruce Gradkowski’s name likely will be mentioned around some water coolers this week after his performance vs. the Dolphins. Gradkowski led two scoring drives of 62 and 61 yards, and he capped both of them off with touchdowns passes to running back Earnest Graham and wide receiver Paris Warren, respectively, in the fourth quarter. Gradkowski’s 1-yard play-action pass to Warren in the back of the end zone proved to be the game-winning score for the Bucs. While those touchdown passes were nice, perhaps Gradkowski’s biggest play came in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-6 play when he showed poise in the pocket and threw a perfect strike to wide receiver Chas Gessner for a 20-yard gain and a first down to keep the drive alive. Gradkowski completed 10-of-16 passes for 104 yards and tossed two touchdowns and no interceptions against Miami. He also used his legs to move the ball, evidenced by his two rushes for 10 yards. This might have been the most capable and comfortable the Bucs have seen Gradkowski play since this time last year. Even if he doesn’t beat out McCown for the No. 2 job behind Garcia, Gradkowski showed Saturday night that he’s certainly worthy of a 53-man roster spot this season.”
WR Paris Warren
Paris Warren might have convinced the Buccaneers to keep six wide receivers on their active roster this year with his performance against the Dolphins on Saturday night. Warren had a quiet game until late in the third quarter. Warren’s first reception of the game went for 15 yards. Not long after that play, Warren hauled in an 11-yard pass from quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on a deep out pattern for a first down. That play put the Bucs on the Dolphins’ 17-yard line. The Bucs would wind up scoring a touchdown on this drive. In the fourth quarter with the Bucs driving deep in Miami territory, Warren was called for pass interference, which negated a play that would have put the Bucs inside Miami’s 5-yard line. However, the Bucs were able to overcome that mistake and put themselves in position to score. From the 1-yard line, Gradkowski took the snap from center and pulled off a great play-action fake to running back Lionel Gates, looked to his left and threw a great pass in to the back of the end zone for Warren, who hauled it in around two defenders for a 1-yard score, which proved to be the difference in the game. Warren finished the game with three catches for 27 yards and one touchdown.
RB Earnest Graham
Bucs running back Earnest Graham led a Tampa Bay ground attack that produced 133 yards on 28 carries (4.8 avg.) and one touchdown against Miami on Saturday night. Graham, who is also known as “Mr. August” due to his penchant for producing in preseason, rushed nine times for a team-leading 34 yards (3.8 avg.) and one touchdown. But Graham’s average-per-carry doesn’t tell the whole story of how well he ran vs. the Dolphins. Graham showed some impressive power by breaking several tackles and fighting for extra yardage on Saturday night. Graham’s longest run came in the third quarter when he broke a run off the right side of the line for an 11-yard gain. Not only did he run well, Graham showed impressive hands in this contest. He had two catches for 14 yards, including a 6-yard dump off over the middle from quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, which Graham took in to the end zone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. That score capped off 12-play, 62-yard scoring drive for the Bucs, who at that point had taken a 24-21 lead over the Dolphins.
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