QB Luke McCown If Friday night’s preseason opener is any indication, it looks like Tampa Bay has found quarterback Jeff Garcia’s backup. Garcia ran a total of six plays, which amounted to two straight three-and-outs, before being relieved by Luke McCown. , who led an impressive 13-play, 62-yard drive that resulted in a field goal in the second quarter. McCown had a key 16-yard completion to wide receiver Maurice Stovall on that drive. On the next drive, McCown scrambled twice for a total of 15 yards and completed three passes to WR Paris Warren, who capped off the 10-play, 69-yard drive with an 11-yard catch for a touchdown from McCown. Although he was sacked three times against New England, McCown was perfect on the night, completing 7-of-7 pass attempts for 68 yards and tossing one touchdown while rushing three times for 19 yards. He finished the game with a quarterback rating of 146.7.
RB Kenneth Darby Tampa Bay had an impressive outing rushing the football against New England. The Bucs rushed 36 times for 169 yards (4.7 avg.), but no one ran the ball better than rookie RB Kenneth Darby. Darby, who saw most of his action in the second half, ran the ball with authority. He carried the ball a team-high 15 times for 84 yards (5.6 avg.). His longest run of the game was a 21-yarder, which came in the fourth quarter. In addition to running the ball well, Darby displayed decent hands when he hauled in a 13-yard pass from quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
WR Paris Warren There might not be a position in Tampa Bay that features more competition at it than wide receiver. Although he has the likes of Joey Galloway, Michael Clayton, Maurice Stovall, David Boston and Ike Hilliard playing in front of him, WR Paris Warren looks like he’s determined to make things even more interesting in preseason. Warren and Bucs quarterback Luke McCown had quite the chemistry in the second quarter when they hooked up three times for 34 yards. Warren’s third catch of the drive came on a drag route and went 11 yards for a touchdown. That play capped off an impressive 10-play, 69-yard drive. Warren finished the game with a team-leading four catches for 46 yards and one touchdown, which was the only one of Friday night’s preseason contest.
DT Jovan Haye Bucs head coach Jon Gruden wasn’t happy at all with the pass rush generated by Tampa Bay’s defensive line during Friday night’s game vs. New England. The Bucs registered just one sack, which came courtesy of defensive tackle Ellis Wyms. While they didn’t have much of a pass rush, the Bucs did play quite well against the run, holding the Patriots to just 89 yards on 25 carries (3.6 avg.). Defensive tackle Jovan Haye played an integral role in Tampa Bay’s ability to halt New England’s ground attack by recording a team-leading four tackles.
K Matt Bryant In a game that was decided by three points, Bucs kicker Matt Bryant came through big against the Patriots by drilling both of his field goal attempts. Bryant’s first field goal attempt, a 36-yarder, capped off Tampa Bay’s 13-play, 62-yard drive in the second quarter. His most important field goal attempt came on the last play of the fourth quarter with the game tied at 10. Bryant drilled a 32-yard field goal to give the Bucs a 13-10 win over the Patriots.
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