Five Players to Watch in Buccaneers’ Preseason Opener
Evan Smith/Joe Hawley
This one is a double as we are taking a look at a position battle.
It’s easy to pay attention to players fighting for spots at the skilled positions. If a guy makes a great pass rushing move, you see that. A receiver makes a great catch, you see it. A great throw? You get the idea. But games are won up front. The offensive line drives your offense. Winston and company can be as good as anyone, but if the line doesn’t play well, they will have no chance.
We have a competition going on for the center position, as indicated by Dirk Koetter:
"“We’re alternating Evan [Smith] and Joe [Hawley] every couple of days, so, as we said, there’s competition there. We want competition like that at every position, if we can get it.”"
Last season, Hawley started 14 games at center for the Bucs, and posted a Pro Football Focus grade of just 48.5, 28th of all centers in the league. Smith had a better season, with a rating of 70.3. It was at the guard position, granted, but Dirk is looking for competition to get better.
Watch these guys do battle inside the trenches on Thursday night. Some of the most interesting football can occur right down there.
Next: Adam Humphries