The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the 2015 preseason with a 2-2 record and several players built positive momentum heading into the regular season with great performances in August, while others struggled. Each week, PewterReport.com will rate the top 10 Buccaneers based upon recent play – rather than overall talent or importance to the team.
These are the Buccaneers with the most momentum heading into the season opener against the Tennessee Titans, according to PewterReport.com:
WHICH BUCCANEERS ARE HOT? – WEEK 1 1. RB Doug Martin
Martin has had a sensational preseason, and is running with speed, power and vigor. He totaled 118 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (5.9 avg.) through three games, including a nice 30-yard dash against Cincinnati. Martin also had one catch for nine yards and is in the best shape of his life and looking like a rookie again.
2. MLB Kwon Alexander
Alexander was the Bucs’ leading tackler through the first three preseason games with 13 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a quarterback pressure. The rookie became a starter after the first preseason game and appears destined for stardom lined up next to veterans Lavonte David and Danny Lansanah.
3. LB Danny Lansanah
Lansanah kept his job as the starting strongside linebacker by making seven tackles, two tackles for loss, recording a safety, and helping free safety Bradley McDougald make an interception against Cincinnati with great underneath coverage on tight end Tyler Eifert. No Buccaneer has a nose for the ball like Lansanah does.
4. CB Alterraun Verner
Verner disappointed last year in his first season in Tampa Bay with just two interceptions, but he had a pick-six against Cincinnati and was an exceptional tackler in the preseason with eight stops, a tackle for loss and a team-high three pass breakups. Verner is playing with confidence and is ready to be a difference-maker on defense.
Bucs DE George Johnson – Photo by: Mark LoMoglio/PR
5. DE George Johnson
Johnson had a nice stop in Minnesota on a two-point conversion attempt, and delivered 1.5 sacks against Cincinnati. He finished the preseason with five tackles, two quarterback pressures and 1.5 sacks, which led the Buccaneers. Johnson could lead Tampa Bay in sacks in the regular season, too.
6. DL Will Gholston
Gholston is coming off a preseason in which he played exceptionally well at defensive tackle, leading all D-linemen with 12 tackles, posting a team-high three tackles for loss and forcing a fumble. Gholston likely earned some reps inside in nickel rush situations with a great showing in August.
7. SS D.J. Swearinger
Swearinger finished his first preseason in Tampa Bay with seven tackles and two pass breakups. Although he may not beat out Major Wright for the starting strong safety position, he played well enough to earn some playing time on defense and has the ability to become a special teams demon.
8. WR Vincent Jackson
Jackson’s 23.5-yard average during the preseason proves he’s still capable of making big plays downfield, evidenced by a 40-yard catch at Minnesota. Jackson finished the preseason with four receptions for 94 yards in limited action. With more teams game-planning to stop Mike Evans, Jackson could be targeted even more in 2015.
9. DT Gerald McCoy
McCoy finished the preseason with just three tackles, half a sack and a quarterback pressure, but he is still the Bucs’ franchise player. As McCoy goes, so goes the play of Tampa Bay’s defensive line, and that was evident in a command performance against Cincinnati in which the starting defense finished with three sacks.
10. LB Lavonte David
David had nine tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup during the preseason. Although he didn’t create any splash plays, the newly re-signed weakside linebacker is one of the best players on the Buccaneers’ 2015 squad and is capable of posting double-digit tackles and forcing a turnover or two on a weekly basis.
These are the Buccaneers that lost some momentum heading into the season opener against the Tennessee Titans, according to PewterReport.com:
WHICH BUCCANEERS ARE NOT? – WEEK 1 1. WR Mike Evans
Evans is going to play a big role on offense in 2015 and should emerge as Jameis Winston’s go-to receiver. Evans has yet to catch a pass from Winston in a game situation as he failed to haul in a reception in the first two games before suffering a mild hamstring injury against Cincinnati. Evans and Winston will have to rely on their chemistry from practice in training camp to carry over to Week 1.
Bucs RG Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
2. RG Ali Marpet
Marpet played fair in the season opener at Minnesota, played quite well against Cincinnati and played poorly versus Cleveland. Marpet has a bright future due to his intelligence, skill set and tenacity, but there is a learning curve he will face on Sundays in the NFL after playing for Division III school Hobart College. The former left tackle is a better run blocker than he is a pass protector at this stage of his game.
3. QB Jameis Winston
Winston completed 23-of-47 passes for a dismal 48.9 percent for 311 yards with no touchdown passes and two interceptions. Winston didn’t have great pass protection in the preseason and was sacked a team-high seven times. Winston did rush for two touchdowns and there were some great throws and some bright spots, but he has to show dramatic improvement in Week 1 after practicing behind the scenes the last two weeks.
4. RB Charles Sims
Sims was supposed to challenge Martin for playing time and carries in the preseason, but really underwhelmed with 26 yards on 13 carries. His 2.0 yards per carry average was the lowest on the team in the month of August. Sims did have a few nice runs called back due to penalties, but even his specialty, which is catching passes out of the backfield, could have been better as he had three receptions for 27 yards.
5. LB Bruce Carter
Carter came to Tampa Bay as a high-priced free agent outside linebacker who was going to make the switch to middle linebacker this offseason. But lackluster play and the sudden emergence of rookie Kwon Alexander cost him the starting job and relegated him to backing up Alexander in the middle and Danny Lansanah on the strongside. Carter finished the preseason with just three tackles and a fumble recovery.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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