The Buccaneers are preparing for game 3 of the preseason and doing it without starting quarterback Josh Freeman who is recovering from a broken thumb that he suffered in last week’s win over Kansas City. The Bucs are looking to answer a lot of questions in this game at various positions such as running back, wide receiver, and safety. Game three of the preseason is usually when the starters see more playing time and roster questions are answered, so this game is very important to the players and the coaches. Here are five areas that the Bucs will be looking at this game as they hope to go 2-1 this preseason (too bad no one will be able to watch the game because it has already been blacked out).
1. Safety position – Sean Jones has been listed as the Bucs starting strong safety, beating Sabby Piscitelli out for the position. Sabby learned he was no longer the starting safety yesterday via a text message and he was not happy about it. Jones will have to play well or the debate between who will be the starter could get worse.
2. Quarterback – Josh Freeman won’t play until week one of the regular season, so the ball will be in the hands of the young back-ups. Josh Johnson will start and needs to play well. There are rumors that he may be used in wildcat formations this season. Then the ball will go to Carpenter and Snead (recently resigned). It will be a learning experience for them and they need all of the repetitions they can get before the regular season starts.
3. Wide Receiver position – This has been an ongoing question for the Bucs and there are still no clear answers. Starter Maurice Stovall will not play and will be a game-time decision in week one. Mike Williams continues to excel and Sammie Stroughter is proving to be a reliable starter. Arrelious Benn needs to step up or Reggie Brown and Michael Spurlock will take his position away. Michael Clayton continues to suit up, but many believe his days are numbered.
4. Defensive backs – Myron Lewis is healthy and is getting more playing time. E.J. Biggers has been on the field more this preseason and has taken advantage of the playing time. It is an open competition for the nickel position and both players are very talented. It will be very interesting to see how they will fare and who will eventually win the position. They will both get their chances against the Jags.
5. Running back – I know, running back debate again, but it something to continue to watch as Huggins emerges as the Bucs number two running back. The bigger question (literally) is the other running back, Derrick Ward. Coach Morris says he needs to slim down and is not in shape, while Ward says he is ready. Clifton Smith is also back in the mix as well and looks to get back on pace and should create some more competition among the backs.