The Starting Defensive Line
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line has not been able to get after the quarterback the past few seasons. Many failed signings led to a near complete rebuild this offseason and the starters on the defensive line should see their most snaps this week. The new combination of Jason Pierre-Paul, Gerald McCoy, Beau Allen and Vinny Curry need to pressure the quarterback so the secondary can try and contain the opposing receivers.
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So far this preseason the Bucs have three sacks with only one of them coming from a starter, McCoy. This week the pressure should be amped up and hopefully, there will be more QB hits, pressures and sacks. The Lions have given up eight sacks so far this preseason, so they are susceptible.
The Bucs front office spent big bucks on the new additions, and they need to produce. Seeing even a glimmer of success in the preseason could give the fans some hope this year.
The Rookie Cornerbacks
MJ Stewart and Carlton Davis have looked good so far this preseason, but they need to continue to develop. Vernon Hargreaves was recently injured so they may ease him back into the starting rotation and allow the rookies to take a few more snaps in the exhibition. Both Davis and Stewart could see significant time with the starting lineup. Brent Grimes, the ageless wonder, is locking up his side of the field and quarterbacks, especially early, will want to pick on the young corners.
Davis was impressive against the Dolphins, five tackles, and two pass break-ups, but was held out of the game against the Titans. He is expected to go this week. MJ Stewart, on the other hand, shined against the Titans. With two forced fumbles, Stewart matched Davis’ strong Week 1 performance.
Safety Jordan Whitehead
Another rookie makes the list and it’s a good time for Jordan Whitehead to show what he can do. This week in practice, the same day Smith got injured, safety Justin Evans also left practice early. There is a high possibility Evans will be out the rest of the preseason and Whitehead could see a chunk of the snaps in his absence. Whitehead got injured against the Titans but shined in the second half against the Dolphins. With two strong tackles and two pass breakups, he put on a show in the second half.
With Evans on the pine, Whitehead has a solid chance to prove that he can be a starting safety. He was practicing with the first team on Wednesday and could be in the mix for a ton of safety snaps to begin the season.