]The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-30 Friday in the first week of the preseason. Bucs fans got to see a lot of promise from some young players, including tight end Tanner Hudson and kicker Matt Gay, but it was the starters who impressed me the most. Despite giving up a long pass from quarterback Josh Dobbs to wide receiver James Washington in the first drive, the Bucs held the Steelers to zero points in the first quarter. Here are my week 1 preseason winners:
Quarterback: Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston was a focus for a lot of fans. He’s currently in his fifth-year option and looking to land a big contract under new head coach Bruce Arians. Winston’s 12-play, 81-yard first drive was nothing short of impressive. For the first time in his career, the quarterback looked comfortable checking the ball down and taking what the defense was showing him. In fact, it was a simple throw that landed him his first passing touchdown of the new season, a 9-yard screen pass to wide receiver Chris Godwin. All in all, fans of the Buccaneers were shown a flash of promise and poise from the veteran signal-caller.
Right Guard: Alex Cappa
Alex Cappa had his first start against the Steelers, and you would think he had been out there before by the way he played. One play to highlight for the second-year guard was on the previously mentioned screen pass to Chris Godwin. Cappa had a big job; to block rookie linebacker Devin Bush. During the screen pass Cappa held the block long enough to prevent Bush from using his speed to take Godwin out of bounds. It’s safe to say that the Division II standout was nothing short of aggressive.
Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves
Vernon Hargreaves has been all but impressive throughout his first four years, and many like to blame the scheme he was playing in. Well, he got his debut in Todd Bowles’ defense and looked good. There was a minor hiccup in the beginning, a completed 43-yard pass to James Washington on the Steelers’ first drive. Despite what many said, the coverage was good on that play, but the catch was just better. On one play, Hargreaves made an impressive read and challenged the receiver for the grab. He picked off his opponent, but it was negated due to a penalty. Considering this is a corner who has had one interception throughout his entire career with the Bucs, his performance against the Steelers a win in my opinion.
Running Back Stable
Here’s why I’m highlighting the group. All of the running backs looked good. Peyton Barber making an unreal Madden-like spin cut to avoid defenders. Ronald Jones burst through the offensive line with more confidence than all of last year combined. Dare Ogunbowale made multiple cuts through the middle and dove into the end zone. Andre Ellington wants everyone to know that he’s not an “old man,” and still has some gas in the tank. With the exception of Bruce Anderson, I think that the performance displayed by the stable of running backs was a big win for Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers’ next preseason game will be on Friday, August 16th at 7:30 PM against the Miami Dolphins. Needless to say, there were some flaws in Friday’s performance, but Bucs fans certainly have some glimmers of hope towards a winning record this year.