As Buccaneers’ fans saw last week against the Baltimore Ravens, preseason games can be positive experiences without a winning scoreline. So what needs to happen against the New England Patriots this evening to ensure the Buccaneers come away with something to build on? Here are three things I am watching for:
- Dominate on the defensive line: When the story about Tom Brady‘s knee took over the internet, the only thing I could think of is how encouraged I was that Adrian Clayborn was getting after the quarterback. And now that the Bucs will step onto a real field against the Patriots, where knocking Brady down is the goal and not the apocalypse, I hope to see strong play from the front four. Da’Quan Bowers has been a disappointment in camp, but he has the potential to be great. Let’s hope to see some of that potential tonight.
- Prove how deep the offensive line is: The Buccaneers may get their first look at Carl Nicks tonight, and seeing how he deals with his foot injury will be important. But what’s more important is seeing just how well the Buccaneers’ backup linemen can do. There has been plenty of discussion about Gabe Carimi during practice recaps, and he’ll get yet another chance to prove what he can do. Carimi could find himself starting next season if the Buccaneers are forced to let go of a player due to salary cap reasons, so this is truly a first audition for him.
- Josh Freeman must be accurate and under control: The Ravens got to Freeman early, but he managed to stay tough in the pocket and delivered some good throws. The Patriots figure to be an even tougher test, as they’ll mix up coverages, fronts, and virtually everything else to get Freeman off of his game. There have been tons of positive reports about Freeman over the past month, but none of that will matter if he can’t perform well against a complicated NFL defense, rather than a predictable camp defense. The spotlight will be on Freeman all year, and tonight is no different.
What will you be watching for tonight? Let us know in the comment section below!