Despite the loss, there were many things we can take from this game. So let’s not beat around the bush, and get right into the positives and negatives that came out in Tampa’s very first game of the 2010 campaign.
Our thoughts on:
- First team offense – The overall performance from the starters was great. Second year quarterback Josh Freeman looked much more confident and certainly matured since his rookie season. He avoided forcing any bad passes into coverage, taking what the defense was giving him, and ended up hitting Sammi Stroughter for an 18 yard touchdown in the opening quarter. Cadillac Williams, even with the horrendus field conditions, appeared to be making good cuts, something that he will need to do throughout the season. The biggest surprise (if you could call it one) is how Mike Williams appears to be NFL ready as a rookie. His catch along the sidelines was a beautiful sight, and he didn’t do too bad in the blocking department.
- Special teams – Rookie punter Brent Bowden looked fantastic right off the bat, pinning his first punt within Miami’s own 10-yard line. He continued to excel in directional punting the entire game, besides one mishap, resulting in a short punt. But other than that, Bowden looks to be a great pickup. But he wasn’t the only rookie impressing folks on special teams, returner Preston Parker made some nice runs returning punts. The two rookies, Bowden and Parker, look to be major assests to our already tough special teams.
- Derrick Ward – His night didn’t go as we all had hoped he would have. The former New York Giants running back gained 20 yards on 12 carries, giving him an average of 1.7. There’s no reason Ward should be doing this poorly in preseason, especially since he may be losing his spot shortly.
- Kareem Huggins – While Ward struggled, Huggins exploded onto the scene. He was among many stories leading up to this game on The Pewter Plank because of his success thus far in training camp, but we finally got to see him take his game onto the field, and he didn’t disappoint. He led both teams in rushing with 55 yards on 8 carries, including a breakout 35 yarder. If Ward continues to see a decline in his performance ( and touches), it will be Huggins who will be replacing him.
- Sabby Piscitelli – For once, Sabby had a good night. He appeared to be in the right spot on most of his plays, and finished the game with two tackles. With Sean Jones battling him for the starting safety spot, Sabby will need to keep up his good play throughout the preseason if he wants to be the opening week starter against the Cleveland Browns.
- Gerald McCoy – He had a tough night since Miami applied double-team blocking schemes on him most of the night. He failed to record a tackle on the night, but with him drawing double-teams most of the time he was on the field, there were openings for the rest of the Tampa Bay defense to get through. However, rookie Brian Price was held out of the game to recover from an injury, which didn’t help McCoy since Roy Miller failed to get any significant push on the line. With Price coming back next game, it will be interesting to see how the two rookies handle the offensive line.
- Maurice Stovall – The receiver left the game early because of an injury to his ankle. Tampa coaches are not saying the severeness of the injury, but it is believed to be on the less serious end of the spectrum.