It was a valiant effort from the Bucs in their first game of preseason action, but the Super Bowl champions fell to the visiting Cincinnati Bengals, 19-14. There weren’t many disastrous performances, and the team seemed to avoid any major injuries. But few offensive players impressed, and the Bucs shot themselves in the foot far too often with drops and penalties.

Here are the most disappointing players from the Bucs’ preseason loss to the Bengals.

QB Ryan Griffin

There is just so little margin for error with a quarterback that has Griffin’s physical and athletic limitations. He can’t create when things get even a little hectic in the pocket, and his arm is below average. Everything has to be perfect for Griffin to succeed, and that’s rarely the case in football, especially in the third quarter of a preseason game.

That’s when Griffin threw two interceptions over the middle of the field, feeding the Bengals 10 points to give them a 16-6 lead. Before that Griffin overthrew a potential touchdown to Darden. He also struggled to get the ball into any tight windows, forcing his receivers to make tough grabs on routine throws. He finished 6-of-11 for 47 yards and two interceptions and was sacked once. At this point, Kyle Trask should be getting more of Griffin’s reps in practice.

OL Nick Leverett

It wasn’t all Leverett’s fault that he struggled. I think we just found out he probably is an emergency offensive tackle at best. The Bucs tried him out at left tackle all night, but Leverett’s lack of range on his pass sets was quickly exposed. He battled his tail off, often fully extending to push rushers wide. But speed and bend gave him major issues in pass protection, revealing limitations that might keep Leverett at guard in the NFL. I still think he’s the favorite to win the ninth O-line spot.

KR Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Bucs RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn

Bucs RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As a receiver and rusher, Vaughn had a solid night. As a kickoff returner, he may have lost any shot at the job in one night. His lack of burst and speed was painfully exposed, but it was his vision that was really troubling. One unblocked player got through every time, and Vaughn simply could not evade him. On three kick returns, Vaughn averaged a ridiculously bad 14 yards per return, with a long of 18 yards. He finished with 27 yards on 11 carries (2.5 avg.) and a touchdown, along with two catches for 10 yards and a drop.

LB Grant Stuard

Stuard may make a fine special teams player some day, but his athletic and coverage limitations are going to be exposed on defense. Multiple times the Bengals held him with a fake and threw to the flats, where Stuard was late to arrive to the ball. He lacks all the key traits that modern day linebackers need to survive on defense. Stuard is on the outside looking-in on this linebacker room with two preseason games to go. He finished with two tackles on defense and one on special teams.

WR Josh Pearson

Two targets and two drops in the best receiver room in the NFL is not going to win you many post-cut opportunities. Pearson has no shot at making the Bucs roster, but the preseason could have been a nice audition for him to grab a depth spot elsewhere. Instead Pearson dropped Trask’s best throw of the night, an arcing deep shot down the right sideline. He also let an underneath pass slip through his hands on the very next drive. Pearson already lacks great speed and athleticism, so his ball skills need to be a stronger selling point than they currently are.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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BucFan circa76
5 months ago

Agree with those choices….Griffin is likely the odd man out on the roster. No way the Bucs keep 4 QB’s and like you said, he’s not as athletically gifted as Trask & should be getting his reps at practice

plopes808
5 months ago

It was only 1 game, but I think Trask has shown that he deserves to cut into Griffin’s reps going forward. Another performance like this and he will be the clear winner of the #3 spot. Griffin has been in the league far too long to be making those Jameis type reads.

DEBUCSOWN
5 months ago

Tristian Wirfs for me.

Allowed as many sacks in 1 series as he did last year.

Really hoping he doesn’t get content. Brady can’t afford that!

Naplesfan
Reply to  DEBUCSOWN
5 months ago

You cannot judge any player by a single series. Wirfs has nothing to prove – he proved it all last season, playing more snaps than any other player on the offense, and allowing only 1 sack all season, against the very best first string pass rushers in the league, week after week, as a rookie no less.

Last edited 5 months ago by Naplesfan
Horse
Reply to  DEBUCSOWN
5 months ago

You are only as good as the rest of the OLine and they were lethargic. I know it’s preseason, but geez where’s the pride.

scubog
5 months ago

One preseason game, one series or one play is not going to make or break a player’s chances of making the 53 man Roster or even the 16 man Practice Squad. It’s just the only representation of the player’s evaluation many folks get a chance to see. There are countless practice repetitions that will factor into those decisions. That said, often times the game reinforces the good, mediocre or bad grades on a player’s “sheet”. In this game there was a little of each and a whole lot of incomplete, so I’ll refrain from judging. Aside from the questionable officiating;… Read more »

surferdudes
5 months ago

Is there any doubt now why the Bucs selected Trask? Griffin sucks, no other way to put it. Gabbert doesn’t have it either. Whether Trask can become the QB of the future remains to be seen, but the Bucs had to take a swing at a QB this draft, Trask was as good as a choice as any.

Dman
5 months ago

Jon, agree on most of this, especially Griff. Was expecting more from him but think he solidified his #4 status. Although I agree Vaughn won’t be our returner, I thought he had a good night at RB.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Dman
5 months ago

Voughn did have a good night. No one has ever expected him to be in the running for the starting kick return job so his performance there is moot. Plus, Matt had Voughn as one of the most impressive players while Jon has him as one of the most disappointing and his basis is on his evaluation of Voughn as a kick returner, who again, no one was expecting him to win that spot.

Horse
5 months ago

You nailed it Jon. The TE position is question once we go past Gronk & Brate.Your thoughts thought on Howard? My impression he is so so.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Horse
5 months ago

My impression is that Howard hasn’t played in a game since week 4 of last year and is coming off an Achilles injury and is still working himself back.

PissedOffBuc1988
5 months ago

Lack of communication on the PR staff, particularly Ledyard whose article came out after Matt’s. Why is it that Matt has Voughn as one of the most impressive players while Ledyard has Voughn as one of the most disappointing? Make sure you’re aware of what your coworkers are writing before posting your articles, ledyard. I mean, a writer of your “status” should know better, right?

BucHarbour
5 months ago

At this point, they need to stop leaving valuable play time for Trask on the field and put Griffin where he really belongs at #4. Let Trask get more time with the receiving corps of Miller, Johnson and Darden. He would have likely had some nice drives with that group instead of the drops and the failures to get separation we saw with the guys he mostly played with.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  BucHarbour
5 months ago

Griffin just needs to be cut. I’d rather Trask and gabbert take all the preseason reps.

BucHarbour
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
5 months ago

Yeah, at this point they are just wasting valuable snaps in preseason games and practice with Griffin. He’s not going to be here. At this point, they likely don’t need the extra arm. This is the perfect year to maximize how many snaps Trask gets. Get him the looks early and often this year so he can maximize the learning curve.

martinii
5 months ago

I agree with scubog. Like most of the preseason games this weekend it’s only redeeming value was we were watching football again. I have a theory that the reason they don’t tackle is they are afraid of getting a penalty from the terrible officiating and not making the final cut. (Tyron sack) We will survive this evaluation fiasco and in a few weeks when Dallas comes to town we will see the complete package.

martinii
Reply to  martinii
5 months ago

P.S. I don’t now or ever pick disappointing or most impressive players. Football is a team effort, coaches evaluate players performances.

WVBucFan
5 months ago

I think Stuard will develop in to a solid backup for depth, just not this year. I think he goes on the PS and has time to learn, work with the strength coaches, and Learn from what is prob the best LB room in the NFL also.

Jonbuc
5 months ago

Griffin’s finest career contribution was getting Brady out of the public eye following the SB Boat Parade. He’ll probably still get stashed on the practice squad or stand by with a handshake agreement.

Buc-Up
5 months ago

I’d cut Griffin and get a younger QB to groom as a backup on the Practice Squad.