Aug 3, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Akeem Spence (97) practices during training camp at One Buc Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The first preseason game is often littered with players that aren’t even likely to make the final roster. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t the select few out there there you should keep your eyes on. Preseason gives the average football fan a great opportunity to watch a specific player during a play rather than watching the ball. Here are three guys you should focus on during tomorrow’s tilt with the Baltimore Ravens.
Chris Owusu – WR
Dominating in practice is one thing, showing it in a game against another team is completely separate. Owusu has shown he can do the former, it’s not time for him to prove the latter. Owusu seems to have an inside track to a roster spot at the wide receiver position, but needs to show up in these preseason games to lock it down. We’ve seen him before, namely Week 17 against the Falcons, but he’s still a relative unknown to most Buccaneer fans. With Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams likely out of the picture after the first series or two, Owusu will get his time in the spotlight. He’s also had concussion problems in his past, so any time he takes a hit, getting back up is proving a lot in itself.
Rashaan Melvin – CB
Melvin’s spot on the depth chart was a bit of a surprise when the Buccaneers released it last week. He found himself ahead of Myron Lewis, Deveron Carr, and Anthony Gaitor. Melvin was not one of the cornerbacks whose name came up as replacements for the departed Eric Wright, but early indications out of camp are that he might be next in line behind Leonard Johnson and the rookie Johnthan Banks. Melvin will get plenty of playing time in the first preseason game and has an opportunity to shine against the relatively weak Ravens receiving corps. He seems to have the support of the organization, now he can really use a splash play or two to get the fan support as well.
Akeem Spence – DT
The rookie out of Illinois has been receiving glowing remarks from fellow teammates and coaches alike. Now in his first official action in the NFL, he’s going to have a chance to go out and show why. Spence was described as “ridiculously strong” by DT Gerald McCoy. When you get a remark like that from a rising star in this league it really resonates. But words don’t do nearly as much as actions. Spence will get his share of time in this game, and hopefully will show up as well hitting Ravens’ offensive linemen as he has hitting Bucs. I’d love to see a sack or a batted pass, but as a DT, being solid is all you can ask for, that’s what he really needs to do.