For the second time in as many days, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practiced at the new One Buccaneer Place on Tuesday afternoon.
The Bucs must cut down their roster to 65 players on Aug. 29, which is exactly one week from today. According to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, starting jobs and roster spots still are up for grabs.
“We’re still evaluating guys as potential starters,” Gruden said after Tuesday’s practice. “There’s a perception that the starting lineup is etched in stone. We’re still looking at some competitive situations, on offense particularly. At the same time, we would like to see our starters – some of them – play a little bit longer than others, and some will play for the first time. Everybody’s situation is a little bit different.”
Tampa Bay is preparing for its third preseason game of the year, which is against the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Saturday night. Most NFL teams typically play their starters through three quarters in the third preseason game, but don’t expect the Bucs to follow that trend.
Gruden suggested some players would be limited while others would receive extended playing time on Saturday night.
“It all depends on who you’re talking about,” Gruden said. “We’ve gone a little bit longer with [guard] Davin Joseph than some of the other guys on offense. It depends, but we go by feel a little bit, and we go by who we really want to see and who we want to see them against. [Wide receiver Joey] Galloway’s taken his turns out here, and once again I’m not going to compare some of the other receivers to Galloway. He’s 33 or 34 years old, and he’s going to play a little bit in this game. He’s never been a guy to really ring it up in the preseason for anybody. He’s got a different training program. I’ve had to adjust a lot of my schedules and beliefs around this kind of athlete, but I’m not giving anybody preferential treatment. Giving a guy no reps in a preseason game is not a reward to them; it’s a reward to the guys who get to play. It’s a reward to [wide receiver] linebacker] David Boston. It’s a reward to Barrett Ruud – to some of these guys who have worked extremely hard, who are going to get a chance to play in a preseason game. Some of these guys didn’t get a chance to play at all last year at linebacker or wide receiver, etc., so the preseason is really a chance for us to see where they are and a great tool to evaluate them.”
One of the more intriguing battles has taken place at the quarterback position, where rookie Bruce Gradkowski has surprised many by completing 22-of-27 (81.4 percent) of his passes and thrown for 297 yards and three touchdowns and one interception in two preseason games.
Starting QB Chris Simms has seen limited action and has complete 4-of-10 (40 percent) of his passes and has not tossed a touchdown or interception.
Despite putting up sub-par numbers in two preseason games, Simms is Tampa Bay’s undisputed starter. However, some feel Gradkowski deserves a shot to work with the second-team offense in front of Rattay, who has completed 5-of-9 (55.5 percent) of his passes and tossed no touchdowns and one interception in preseason.
But Gruden suggested that Tampa Bay’s quarterback rotation would remain unchanged for its exhibition game in Jacksonville.
“Yes, I believe so. I’m not going to make any statements that I can’t back up right now,” Gruden said. “We’ll see how it goes in the next couple of days. If everything goes as planned, it will be somewhat the same.”
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