Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Preseason opener players to watch

Antonio Brown, O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Antonio Brown, O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Fire the Cannons! We are just a few short days away from the first preseason game for the Super Bowl defending champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And according to head coach, Bruce Arians, all of your favorite players will make an appearance in this 2021 debut matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

So what can we expect? Which players should fans be most excited about? Between veterans like OJ Howard coming back from injury, rookies battling for roster spots, camp standouts needing to further prove themselves once it’s actual game-speed, there’s a plethora of reasons to watch the 2021 Bucs go live on Saturday night.

Here’s a top 5 list of what to look out for even though “it’s only” preseason football: 

5) Bucs fans will get their first look at veteran RB Giovani Bernard donning pewter as he debuts against his former Bengals team. Whether it’s Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, or Ryan Griffin at QB, expect Gio to tote a few carries and to catch a few passes throughout the course of the game. What he makes of those opportunities should excite the crowd. While we might only get glimpse of what is to come, expect Gio Bernard to shine as a pass catcher and to provide veteran depth at the RB position.

4) Let’s give a warm welcome to OLB Joe Tyron! All reports from camp suggest that the rookie is going to be a playmaker. Fans should appreciate this first look at Joe bolstering the Bucs’ already solid defense. These 3 preseason games should provide the perfect playground for Tyron to settle in and showcase all of his talents. Expect DC Todd Bowles to use this time to see how Tyron best fits in at full speed, and expect Joe to fit in everywhere. Get your Tyron jersey now!

3) Speaking of Todd Bowles, this first preseason game will mean a lot to his young secondary. Buccaneers fans should pay attention to how this group performs against the pass. Although we might not see too much of Bengals starter QB Joe Burrow, a young stud like Burrow will provide our secondary with just the right challenge. Expect to see a physical game from the young Bucs. This crew is hungry to make a name for themselves. Sure, we know them as the Grave Diggers but they much rather be known as the league’s best.

2) It’ll be great to see how tight end OJ Howard looks coming off his season ending Achilles tear. All reports indicate OJ to be healed up and game ready. Still, we should keep an eye on him all the same for several reasons. Chemistry between OJ and Brady was brewing early on in 2020 and fans should root for that relationship to further develop in 2021.

OJ Howard has yet to fully unleash himself on the NFL. His max potential is a wonderful unknown. Also, let’s see how OJ is incorporated early on. Will he be paired with fellow TE Rob Gronkowski for blocking assignments or might OC Byron Lefwich keep him on the field alongside TE Cameron Brate or both? In every scenario, defenses will be scratching their heads. Let’s go Juice!

1) How will the Buccaneers employ their wide array of wide receivers? With Mike Evans saying he’s feeling better than ever and Antonio Brown looking faster, sharper and more focused than ever, this preseason game is going to be an exhilarating first look at our favorite players doing their thing. So even if the great Chris Godwin and WR1 Evans don’t play much on Saturday, the Bucs’ WR depth is fascinating and it is must-see-TV.

Fans should be excited to see what Scotty Miller brings in his third year, preseason or not. After all, Scooter Miller very well may be the fastest guy in the league! Then there’s second year Tyler Johnson looking to impress and to stay relevant among a very crowded receiver corps. Especially with stud rookie Jaelon Darden making noise during camp. And oh yeah, Cyril Grayson and Jayden Mickens- both having strong camps- all vying for playtime in this 2021 season. Best of luck to the Bengals’ secondary that will be facing a barrage of size and speed and talent all game long.

Saturday night should have all of Tampa Bay excited. Fans should be glued to the screen because there will be plenty to keep an eye on and there will be plenty to see. Fire the Cannons! Go Bucs!

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