The Buccaneers got their first win at Raymond James Stadium since the 2013 season when former head coach Greg Schiano roamed the sidelines, after beating the Cincinnati Bengals 25-11 on Monday Night Football. Tampa Bay started hot on both sides of the ball scoring on their first drive with a Jameis Winston touchdown run, and the defense added the second score of the night with an interception return for a touchdown by Alterraun Verner. PewterReport.com takes a look at a long list of impressive players from Tampa Bay’s first preseason win of 2015.
QB Jameis Winston
After being criticized for some slow starts in practice, and in last week’s loss to the Vikings, Jameis Winston came out on fire and finished his first drive 3-of-3 and scoring a rushing TD from one yard out. Winston looked in command and sharp for the most part, and perhaps his best throw of the night ended up being an incompletion to a diving Tim Wright who couldn’t hang onto the ball. Winston got dinged in the second quarter after a sack, but from information released to the media, it appears the Bucs dodged a bullet and the former FSU star will be fine. Winston finished up his quarter and-a-half of play 8-of-13 for 90 yards with no interceptions and the mentioned rushing touchdown.
DE George Johnson
Everyone has asked the question, PewterReport.com included, where will the Bucs pass rush come from? On Monday night, Bucs fans – and the media – might have got a glimpse, as the Bucs front four pressured Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton by notching three first half sacks and two interceptions. Former Bucs and Lions defensive end George Johnson, who Tampa Bay traded for last spring, made an impact on Monday taking Dalton down for a first half sack and spending considerable time in the backfield, and was also later credited with a half sack. For the game Johnson finished with four tackles and 1.5 sack.
QB Mike Glennon
While the buzz around the stadium on Monday night was the encouraging sign of play from Jameis Winston, backup quarterback Mike Glennon may have played even better. Granted it was a lot against the Bengals second team, but to be fair, Glennon for the most part was being protected by, and throwing to, the Bucs second team as well. Glennon looked very much in command and poised most of the evening. He threw a strike on a deep route to Russell Shepard in the second quarter after replacing Winston, and led all passers with a 10-of-15 night for 121 yards and a 113.5 QB rating.
CB Alterraun Verner
Vowing to be a better player than he was in 2014 after signing as a free agent with the Bucs, cornerback Alterraun Verner looks to be backing it up so far in 2015. Going up against the talented A.J. Greene, Verner managed to nab a throw that went off of the former Georgia receivers hands, and weaved his way through traffic and into the end zone for a Bucs score. Verner’s night ended with two tackles, a pass breakup and the interception return for a score.
WR Russell Shepard
Backup receiver Russell Shepard’s night didn’t start well, as the special teams standout was called for a 10-yard holding penalty before the Bucs second drive, after the defense forced a Bengals punt. But the former LSU product made up for it later by hauling in a 22-yard TD from QB Mike Glennon. Shepard had two receptions for 44 yards in the Bucs win on Monday night.
RB Doug Martin
When most people talk about the Bucs offense led by rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, one player that could prove to be extremely valuable is running back Doug Martin. After his sensational rookie season in 2012, Martin has only put up pedestrian stats the last two seasons, but appears to not only have regained his rookie form, but he may actually be better. Slimmer, stronger and quicker so far, Martin could end up being the Bucs most valuable player on offense in 2015, especially if he plays like he did against the Bengals on Monday night. The former Boise State standout led all rushers with 59 yards on just six carries.
LB Danny Lansanah
Relegated to backup status so far with the signing of Bruce Carter and and the drafting of Kwon Alexander, 2014’s bright spot on defense, Danny Lansanah, isn’t going down without a fight, and had a solid game working with the second team on Monday night, including using his quickness to beat a Bengals offensive linemen for a tackle for loss that ended up a safety and extended the Bucs lead in the second half. The journeyman linebacker notched four tackles against Cincinnati.
Honorable Mentions: DE Larry English, RB Mike James, DL William Gholston, S D.J. Swearinger, LB Kwon Alexander