After joint practices with the Miami Dolphins last week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back at it again. This week they travel to Nashville for a pair of practices with the Tennessee Titans. The two teams will combine on Wednesday and Thursday before their preseason game on Saturday.
As we saw last week, a new team means a new set of interesting matchups to watch. Last week the Bucs saw a team on the rise, but this week they will be going against the top seed in the AFC in last year’s playoffs. This should be an even better opportunity to get a feel for where the team is at.
Here are a few things that I’ll be watching for.
Robert Hainsey had a good test last week matching up against Raekwon Davis. However, he didn’t do a lot to impress over the week (although he didn’t get pushed around either). This week will provide him with a very different challenge.
The Titans are not strong at nose tackle. Both Teair Tart and Naquan Jones, who are first and second string at the position, have spent time on the practice squad over the last few years. On top of that, both are a bit undersized compared to typical nose tackles.
In short, this is a week where Hainsey should shine. He should win basically every rep against these two. If he can’t handle them for some reason then it might be time to hit the panic button.
Left Guard Competition
While the nose tackle group is underwhelming, the rest of the Titans defensive line is very strong. Jeffery Simmons is one of the best young defenders in the game today. Denico Autry is a good player in his own right on the other side.
This could be the week that the Buccaneers separate the men from the boys. Nick Leverett, Aaron Stinnie and Luke Goedeke will all be challenged this week. To put it bluntly, I expect them to be totally outclassed.
If one of these guys can stand out, or even just hold their own, it could give them a big leg up in this competition.
There is very little that gives me pause about this Titans offense. Yes, running back Derrick Henry is a physical freak that the league still hasn’t found a way to contain. However, beyond that this offense is rather pedestrian.
Watching rookie receiver Treylon Burks should be interesting, but it’s fair to expect the Buccaneers corners to handle him on most plays. Likewise with the Titans offensive line, despite having a few good players like Taylor Lewan.
I believe the Bucs have the best front seven in the NFL. They also have a good young secondary that should be in store for their best year yet. If those things really are true then they should control this Titans offense all week.
Can The Bucs Keep Airing It Out?
The Titans have invested a lot into their secondary. Caleb Farley, Roger McCreary, Kristian Fulton and Elijah Molden were all drafted in the first three rounds over the last few years. On top of that Tennessee might have the best free safety in the NFL today with Kevin Byard.
The Bucs wide receivers were able to carve up the Dolphins all last week. Even Kyle Trask got in on the fun with a strong showing in the game. This week should prove to be more of a challenge.
With so many guys in this group looking to prove themselves or even just make the team, these practices are a good opportunity. Just like with the guard competition, getting the best of these opponents will be noteworthy. Who will take advantage of this opportunity is still yet to be seen.
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