After a busy off-season, week 1 of the NFL preseason is fast approaching. The Buccaneers week 1 match up features a game versus the Dolphins in Miami on Thursday (8/9) at 7:00pm EST. This first preseason game will not be televised locally. You can though listen to the game via radio at 620AM WDAE, the Bucs flagship station.
Historically speaking, starters don’t see a ton of action during the first two weeks of the preseason. Then in week 3 starters typically play the first half, which acts as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Coaches use these first two games to test certain packages, specific calls/players and hypothetical scenarios. Even though it is always good to see the Bucs win games, even if it is just the preseason, but that isn’t the focus of the coaching staff as a whole.
This Thursday, against Miami, you should expect to see your usual starters play a few drives. If Koetter and Co. like what they see from the 1’s the remainder of the game should likely focus on key position battles and temporarily flipping players to adjacent positions to see how they fit from a cross training standpoint. As it is always good to know where you could plug-in certain players in the event of an injury.
Two key positions to keep an eye on are: Cornerback and Runningback. At corner, M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis are putting in a fairly impressive camp, and are putting in their cases respectively to be the starting corner opposite Brent Grimes. At runningback, we will get a good look at how much of the playbook rookie Ronald Jones II has absorbed and how he plays in tandem with Peyton Barber. With the addition of Jones it will be interesting to see how Koetter works Sims and Rodgers in during this first game. Both of them could be on the bubble.
On the opposing side of the field, look for a more stout defense from Miami with a resurgent secondary led by 3rd year pro Xavien Howard, who has been called by some the Bread and Butter of the Defense in Miami as the NFL’s next “top-tier” cornerback. The addition of rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, also helps upgrade a unit that was the “middle of the pack” in pass defense, last season. Also, watch out for Ryan Tannehill’s performance during his first game back, since missing the entire 2017 season, because of a left knee injury.
Even though the scoreboard is of little effect this week, I would still say the starters put on a decent show. Overall it might be a low scoring affair, but the Bucs should come out on top: 17-13.