The Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a Tampa Bay Buccaneers-related topic each week.

This week’s topic: What is the Bucs’ biggest concern entering the preseason?

Scott Reynolds: Tampa Bay’s Ground Game
The Bucs offensive line is a bit banged up right now, especially on the right side as starting guard Caleb Benenoch is injured and expected to miss the Dolphins game, in addition to backup right tackle Leonard Wester. With starting right tackle Demar Dotson not quite back to 100 percent full strength after offseason knee surgery, how much push can the Bucs offensive line get with Brad Seaton and Cole Gardner at right tackle, along with rookie right guard Alex Cappa?

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter wants to get the team’s “Bash and Dash” backfield of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones, the team’s second-round pick, rolling during the preseason. With the team having to start backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for the first three games while Jameis Winston is serving his suspension, Koetter wants to lean on an effective running game until Winston returns. Jones brings speed and big-play ability that was sorely lacking in Tampa Bay last year, and that should help. In 2017, the Bucs’ ground game ranked 19th in the league with 390 yards rushing in four preseason games, while averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Tampa Bay averaged just 97.5 yards per game and only scored two touchdowns on the ground. The Bucs only had one run longer than 20 yards last August and that was a harbinger of things to come.

When the regular season came Tampa Bay’s running game stalled behind disappointing starter Doug Martin, who was cut after the 2017 season. The Bucs ranked 27th in rushing yards, averaging 90.6 yards per game and only had five runs of 20 yards or more, which ranked 30th in the league. Tampa Bay did not have a run of 40 yards or more, which is why Jones was drafted. Koetter is anxious to see Barber pick up from where he left off last year as the team’s leading rusher, in addition to showcasing Jones’ ability to deliver explosive plays on the ground. That may be hampered somewhat in Miami by the Bucs’ banged up offensive line.

Mark Cook: Offensive Line
The Bucs offensive line is easily the most concerning when the Bucs line up on Thursday night to take on Miami. The recent rash of injuries only hurts a unit that came into the season as a remodeled and rebuilt unit. There were plenty of question marks, particularly on the right side of the offensive line, even before linemen started getting banged up. Caleb Benenoch is missing in action, Demar Dotson isn’t near being season ready and the teams swing tackle Leonard Wester is out after losing a battle with the turf monster.

And to make thing even more concerning is this team has to essentially get two No. 1 quarterbacks ready for the season in the preseason. With a makeshift offensive line? Yikes. We all remember what happened in the Bengals game last season when Ryan Griffin went down with a shoulder injury in the first preseason game, right? I mean it is hard enough to keep your quarterback healthy with your starters. Jameis Winston didn’t hurt his shoulder last season because Brad Seaton was blocking for him.

If I am Dirk Koetter I am having my quarterbacks do a lot of turning around and handing off on Thursday night. A lot. And telling them if there is a fumble, run the other way from the pile.

Trevor Sikkema: Quarterback Carousel 
I can definitely see the first two points of concern that were brought up by Scott and Mark. The Buccaneers’ run game not only has to exist much more than it did in 2017, but it also has to be established much soon. That starts right now. And part of that equation is certainly the health of the offensive line. However, if you ask me, how the Bucs treat their quarterbacks in terms of snap count and meaningful game reps is what has the highest potential for concern.

Earlier this week the Bucs released their first unofficial depth chart, and on it, they have Jameis Winston listed as the No. 1 quarterback. We all know Winston isn’t going to be starting Week 1 of the regular season, so was him being placed on the top spot just a vote of confidence for when he gets back? Because ranking him there doesn’t help anyone for Week 1 . Winston has been running with the second and third-team offenses for most of camp. is he going to start on Thursday because his name is up there? Should he? We have a lot of question there.

And when it comes to Ryan Fitzpatrick, how long do you let him play? you can’t really treat this as a normal situation. After all, if Fitzpatrick gets hurt at any point, you’re not going to a backup, you’re going to the backup of a back up.

I’m sure the Bucs have a plan for how they want to rotate their quarterbacks this preseason, but even with the plan, I’m worried because of how unstable the situation is.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for 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 coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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3 years ago

Every year it’s stupid bad luck with the Bucs overall and O line issues. Now we have to deal with no Winston 3 games and hardest schedule in NFL. Crazy 😜 as well as a makeshift lone all beat up.

3 years ago

I think we see a LOT of Ryan Griffin, J Rodgers, Charles Sims. Honestly, Koetter has to do that so we can buy time to help guys heal.

3 years ago

Licht counting on Dotson this season might come back to bite him. I hope Cappa works out, but it’s hard for me to believe there wasn’t a true right tackle available to draft with that 3rd round pick. What I mean by true R.T. would be a kid who played his whole college career at R.T. against real college competition unlike Cappa who played L.T. for Bung Hole St. against a bunch of nobodies. Now you may point to Marpets success and have some hope, but why try for lightening in a bottle. You need a future R.T., draft one.… Read more »

3 years ago

I think I’d let Fitz play the first series and Jamies the rest of the first half with the first team line. Guys like Cappa and Wester need to get a lot of reps in preseason. Griffen can run for his life throughout the second half. Hopefully the Bucs will have an orthopedic surgeon prepped and ready to do some work on him after the game.