Typically after losing by 30 points and turning the ball over four times, there aren’t many positives to be found. But the preseason is a curious thing, because the point of the game is not to win, but rather for each player to prove he’s capable of doing his job. It’s a chance for young players to get their chance to make the roster, and for veterans to build back up to game shape. So let’s set aside the result of the game, and give you players who received an upgrade after Thursday night, and some who received a downgrade.
- Johnthan Banks: The rookie from Mississippi State looked ready for the NFL in his first action. He made plays in both man and zone defensive assignments, including a fantastic tackle on a running back in the flat. The Tampa Bay defense didn’t allow the Ravens’ passing game to get anywhere on the first pair of drives when Banks was playing, and the young corner was a key part of that effort. I am eager to see him play against better wide receivers than Tandon Doss, because I believe he is NFL ready.
- Danny Gorrer: Who said the Buccaneers have no depth at corner? Danny Gorrer, a player who I have been very high on since the end of last year, had an incredible game Thursday evening, hauling in an interception and getting another solid pass defensed. Gorrer showed a combination of great speed and great technique as he diagnosed Joe Flacco’s sideline route to Jacoby Jones, and exploded out of his break to beat Jones to the ball. He then denied Jones another catch later in the game with a similar burst out of his transition, but would leave with an injury that did not appear to be serious (he conducted post-game interviews, so he’s going to be fine).
- Brian Leonard: The veteran running back from Rutgers showed that he can do everything asked of him as a backup to Doug Martin, as he picked up blitzes and gained yardage in short yards-to-go situations to help the Buccaneers score their only touchdown of the night. All of the Buccaneers’ runners looked good, with the surprising exception of Doug Martin who was not provided with any sort of blocking before he was removed from the game.
- Keith Tandy: What an awful game from the roster hopeful. Tandy had a penalty, a missed tackle that led to a touchdown, and at least one awful bit of coverage on a tight end. He was among the many Buccaneers in the reserve defensive backs group to fail to turn around to make a play on the football and allow Ravens’ receivers to haul in passes while they flail their arms in hopes of deflecting. He has an open door to a roster spot, but on Thursday night it looked like he was slamming that door on his own hand instead.
- Deveron Carr and Rashaan Melvin: Both of these undrafted rookie cornerbacks joined the “Didn’t Play The Ball” club that Tandy was a part of, and for both of them it led to a touchdown. Tyrod Taylor and his receivers were making these corners look foolish, dropping arcing passes over their heads for big gains and scores. Carr and Melvin have been touted this offseason as being potential impact players despite being undrafted, but it’s clear that the NFL game is still a bit of a blur to them. Expect them to be tested in training camp even more heavily, as they’ll need some grooming to be developed into serviceable corners for this season.
- Chris Owusu: Another guy with plenty of camp hype who failed to deliver. There seems to be two versions of Chris Owusu; there’s the version on slants and vertical routes who has just enough quickness and good enough hands to make plays when the throw is accurate enough to be in his catch range, and the version that does not run good routes, does not explode in and out of cuts, and who doesn’t attack the football on comeback routes and other plays involving a hard break from one direction into another. He also muffed a punt, and in doing so failed to increase his value to the Buccaneers. Derek Hagan and many other Bucs’ receivers are waiting to take the roster spot he seemed to earn during training camp, so this performance was disappointing to say the least.