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Loading The Cannons: Preseason Week Three

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Square Off Against The Cleveland Browns As Fans Get Their First Look At The Stadium Renovations

Today is the day the city of Tampa finally gets a live look at their home town squad as Raymond James Stadium will open it’s doors for Buccaneers football for the first time this year. Sure, it’s just the preseason, but with the debut of all the offseason renovations, and the starters playing at least the first half in the third week of preseason, there is plenty of reason to be excited for tonight.

What To Watch For

Tampa Bay offense vs. Cleveland Browns defense

Bucs offense

The starting offense has had it’s fair share of highs and lows so far this preseason. The focus in this matchup needs to be protecting the ball. Playing in front of the home team fans should provide extra motivation tonight, as the offense looks to show the Buccaneer faithful that they are ready to take the next step.

The preseason is the perfect place to make sure the fundamentals are in order, and keeping penalties down and protecting the football tonight is the perfect way to prove their ducks are in a line. The starters will more than likely have their last taste against live action tonight, and it is important they back up the hype that is behind them heading into the regular season.

Tampa Bay defense vs Cleveland Browns offense

Browns offense

The defense looks to be the most improved aspect of this team in order to find themselves playing meaningful games come late December. The defensive line has already shown signs of life, and needs to put pressure on Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III tonight much like they have done to him in practice throughout the week.

After practice on Wednesday, the Buccaneers defense has to show they can to a better job keeping their opponents out of the endzone. Red zone drills weren’t pretty, and the defense needs to show that in full game mode, they will be stingy in the redzone.

Position Battles 

This game should go a long way in solving some of the position battles currently taking place on the Bucs roster. The position battle that has the most notoriety is the cornerback. Brent Grimes is a starter that’s for certain. The number two spot seems to be leaning towards Alterraun Verner, who has had a good camp, but the play of first round pick Vernon Hargreaves III has gained everyone’s attention. With a solid camp and a great showing against the Jaguars last week, he should get some playing time with the first team, and will look to show he can play with the big boys. Regardless you will see plenty of Hargreaves this season, but will it be from the slot or opposite Brent Grimes? Tonight’s game could shed some light.

The starting center battle has begun to gain steam as last year’s starter before injury Evan Smith and fill in Joe Hawley. Hawley was able to keep the starting job last year even when Smith became healthy and appears to have the upper hand, but both should see time with the first team offense today before management makes it’s final decision.

Special Teams

Sounding like a broken record, the pressure put on Roberto Aguayo to join the team and perform immediately was heightened when he was selected in the second round. So far his preseason has been less than stellar, and the fans have been unforgiving. Aguayo is doing all the right things to get his mind right for the season opener, and can do a lot for his confidence if he has a good game tonight against the Browns, if for anything else to have the boo birds disappear.

Kickoff team made vast improvements from the first preseason game to the second and need to continue that tread tonight. Special teams play can not only dictate the momentum of a game, but in the preseason it is the time and place for bubble players to prove to the Bucs brass that they belong on the final roster.

Penalties

Another broken record topic, but one of the most important, is the Buccaneers being able to play disciplined football and keep penalties to a minimum. The Bucs showed improvement here committing 10 penalties for 92 yards against the Eagles, then improving that to eight penalties for 70 yards against the Jags. This number needs to continue to come down, and improving this number tonight can show the Bucs are focused on keeping the penalties at bay.

Be sure to watch tonight at 8:00 P.M. as the Bucs look to defeat the Cleveland Browns from Raymond James Stadium.

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