The Tampa Bay Buccaneers left Heinz Field Friday night with mixed feelings in regards to it’s depth, as the team has some injuries that will force rookies to really step up in a few weeks. With players like Justin Evans, Vita Vea and Jason Pierre-Paul all out, the Buccaneers will get a closer look at others as the September 8th opener against the San Francisco 49ers gets closer. We take a closer look now at who impressed and who didn’t from the Buccaneers’ 30-28 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jameis Winston, QB: Yes, he only played one series but his decision making throughout the opening drive of the game has to be a good feeling for fans. Winston was quick to get the ball out of his hands and into the hands of his wide receivers. One piece of evidence of better decision making was a scramble he made in the opening drive in which he started to look downfield but opted to tuck and run for the first down. Little things like that could go a long way for Winston.
Ronald Jones, RB: The stat line may only day four carries for 18 yards, but that’s a lot for a guy who only rushed for 43 yards in the 2018 campaign last year altogether. Jones has packed on the muscle this summer and looks to be a much bigger piece to the puzzle in 2019. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield also plays a key as Bruce Arians loves to have his backs lineup as receivers.
Noah Spence, LB: The arrival of the 3-4 defense and Todd Bowles may not be a more welcoming sight for anyone other than Noah Spence. Spence never had a big role under the Dirk Koetter regime, but now looks to have found his niche under Bowles. The speedy linebacker caused pressure all night and nearly had a sack, which ended up being Carl Nassib’s.
Who did not impress?
Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB: The second round pick had a tough go of it in his first taste of NFL action, as the Central Michigan product was caught out of position at times and missed some opportunities to make a play. Arians’ comment on if Bunting even played on Friday says a lot in regards to his debut in the secondary.
Evan Smith, OL: Smith has been with the Buccaneers for five seasons and his preseason game with Tampa Bay ended up being his last. The former Green Bay Packer provided depth at center and guard position, but after two hip surgeries has not looked like himself throughout training camp. The Buccaneers ended up releasing Smith yesterday and the transaction should become final today.
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