Offensive Players to Watch
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick has only played five series for the Bucs so far this preseason, but it’s only produced nine points for the team, one touchdown (with a missed extra point) and one field goal. Fitz in those drives has 101 yards with a 52 completion percentage, no touchdowns, and no turnovers. Nothing eye-popping but those numbers won’t beat the Saints, Eagles or Steelers in the first three weeks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In this game, Fitzpatrick would likely get the most playing time this preseason, and I would like to see more production.
He has a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal and putting up points with this offense should be more natural than what he has shown it to be. I would like to see at least 100 yards and a touchdown from Fitz this week. This shouldn’t be too tall a task as Winston was able to put up 200 in a quarter last week.
Running back Ronald Jones
Ronald Jones has come into this season with high expectations. There was a feeling he could jump Peyton Barber and become the team’s number one running back in camp. The opposite has been true thus far as Barber has run away with the starting job. Jones has not performed well in his two games with only 11 yards on 12 carries.
Jones is playing mostly with the second-team offensive line, but that’s no excuse for lack of production. It’s important for the Bucs to see Jones have a turnaround as preseason winds down. Adding him into the mix gives Tampa Bay multiple options in the backfield.
Left Tackle Replacement
The Buccaneers lost tackle Donovan Smith in practice this week with a sprained knee. He is expected to miss two to four weeks and if so he could be out for the start of the regular season.
Smith has looked good early on after finishing last season on a high note as well. This could be a big blow because the Bucs don’t have any reliable options available.
Backup left tackle Leonard Wester has missed practice and likely won’t suit up for Friday’s game either. Cole Boozer and Cole Gardner have been banged up as well throughout camp.
The Buccaneers may need to bring in some more bodies to try and protect the edges of the offensive line. Mike Liedtke will be thrown into the fire at left tackle in the hopes he can keep Fitzpatrick upright.
He may not be in the mix at tackle, but rookie Alex Cappa could get a lot of playing time this week and will be another young player to watch.