QB Bruce Gradkowski Tampa Bay's rookie sensation might have won the No. 2 quarterback job behind Chris Simms Thursday by single-handedly taking command of a Bucs offense that played flat under Simms and Tim Rattay. Gradkowski completed his first three passes of the game and finished the contest completing 13-of-17 (76.4 percent) passes for 90 yards and tossing one touchdown. But it was Gradkowski's feet that were the most impressive. He broke off a run on a fourth-and-6 play in the third quarter to pick up a first down on the Texans' 19-yard line. He ran again for 13 yards to Houston's 6-yard line on the same drive. Gradkowski capped off the 13-play, 79-yard drive by rolling out off of play-action and hitting rookie tight end Tim Massaquoi for a touchdown. On the next drive, Gradkowski rolled out again to his right on a play-action pass and scrambled 20 yards up the field for a first down. That play led to a 44-yard field goal by kicker Matt Bryant. Perhaps Gradkowski's most impressive play of the game came late in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-12 play when he managed to get off a pass while getting drilled by a defender and completing the throw to tight end Mark Anellli for a 16-yard gain and a first down. However, that great play was erased by an illegal motion penalty. In addition to his impressive numbers through the air, Gradkowski rushed three times for 47 yards (15.7 avg.) on Thursday.
WR David Boston While he was going up against mostly second- and third-team defenders, Boston turned in a solid performance in a game that could decide whether or not he makes the 53-man roster. Boston led the team in receptions with six for 77 yards. His biggest grab of the game came in the second quarter when QB Tim Rattay fired a pass across the middle of the field to Boston for a 33-yard gain to Houston's 28-yard line. That catch eventually led to a field goal for the Bucs. Boston showed much better separation and breakaway speed in this contest.
LB Antoine Cash Cash might have earned himself an active roster spot with his performance in Tampa Bay's preseason finale vs. Houston. He showed a great nose for the football by recording five tackles and one pass defensed on defense. In addition to his playmaking ability on defense, Cash recorded two special teams tackles. If nothing else, Cash made the coaching staff's decision in terms of which linebackers to keep and cut that much harder.
DT Jon Bradley Although Tampa Bay's defense surrendered 327 yards of total offense on Thursday night, Bucs backup defensive tackle Jon Bradley proved why he is worthy of a 53-man active roster spot vs. the Texans. Bradley turned in an impressive performance, especially against the run, in the second half. He penetrated the offensive backfield several times and recorded six tackles, which was the highest of any Bucs defensive lineman on Thursday.
DE Charles Bennett He might not make Tampa Bay's active roster, but Bennett, a seventh-round draft pick, certainly made a strong case for himself in the preseason finale. In the first half, Bennett timed a 34-yard field goal attempt perfectly and managed to block it and keep three points off the scoreboard at Reliant Stadium. In addition to that play, Bennett recorded five tackles vs. Houston.