The Tampa Bay Buccaneers open the preseason tonight against the Patriots at Raymond James Stadium. This is the first time that many people will get to see the Bucs since they lost there last game of the season to the Seahawks to cap a putrid 4-12 season. The Bucs have made some changes and look different from last year, but fans want to know if different mean better. The starters are not scheduled to play much tonight, which may be a mistake for Gruden who did not play his starters a lot in the preseason last year and the team never seemed to be in sync for the rest of the season. While fans may not get to see what the starting team will look like, there are some players and situations that are worthy of watching to see development.1. Back-Up Quarterbacks - Luke McCown is coming off of knee surgery last year, but has looked very good in camp and has earned the praises of anyone watching. Garcia won't play much so McCown should see some good time. Bruce Gradkowski will also get to play as Simms will not be active for the game. Bruce has not looked good in camp with under thrown balls and interceptions. Bruce had a great preseason last year, but we all know what happened during the regular season when he went in.
2. Maurice Stovall and David Boston - Right now Stovall is the second wide out on the depth chart and Boston is the fourth. Stovall should see decent time tonight especially with Michael Clayton expected not to play with a tweaked hamstring. Stovall can further cement himself in that two spot with a good game and continuing improvement. Boston was cut last year after the preseason, but he is back and has looked better than last year. Boston is going out to try and make this team and is working very hard to do so. He will get his opportunities to show that he is the Boston that played for the Cardinals and not the one the Bucs cut last year.
3. Offensive Line - Petigout will not be playing tonight and many, including me, believe he will not play for the Bucs this season, so this may be your starting offensive line come week one. Aaron Sears will start at LG and it will be interesting to see how the rookie plays in the preseason. The offensive line has been a trouble spot for the Bucs since Jon Gruden has been head coach and they still have question marks going into the season. The main thing for the Bucs will be to keep these starters healthy and hope they don't lose one to injury in the preseason.
4. Gaines Adams - The Bucs first round pick has looked horrible in training camp and has been thrown around by tight ends and offensive lineman. Gaines needs a lot of reps in the preseason and hopefully a game situation will get him going and on track. Gruden needs to let Adams play as much as possible to get reps in against NFL talent that is not on his team.
5. Line Backers - Barrett Ruud has to step in for Shelton Quarles in the middle, but he has been slowed by a bruised knee in camp. Ryan Nece and Antoine Cash have impressed at camp and should get some time in the middle after Ruud comes out. Cato June will be starting in a new position and was on of the Bucs big off season acquisitions. Quincy Black should see time after June comes out on the strong side. Black has been impressive thus far and is one of the best athletes on the team.
6. Secondary - Buchanon has had a great camp and is entrenched as the 3rd corner in the Buc defense. There is talk that Buchanon may see some time on offense so it will be interesting to see if he gets some looks. Zemaitis was the Bucs 4th round pick last year and started off very slow in camp, but has turned it on lately. He has looked very good in camp recently and with Torrie Cox out with a suspension he will get a chance in the preseason and first 4 games to keep the fourth corner spot. The safeties will be interesting to watch in the preseason. They were a huge weakness of the Bus last year and the Bucs drafted Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson early to help out that position. The Bucs also brought secondary coach Raheem Morris back from Kansas State to help address the secondary. The safeties and corners have looked good in camp and it will be interesting to see if they can keep it up.
7. The Shotgun - Will we finally see it? We have seen some of it in training camp, but will Gruden finally install it in a game? I hope to see a little bit of it at least.
Although it is preseason you can see there is a lot to watch out for. When a team is coming off of a 4-12 season no job is safe and there have been a lot of changes made. Its good to talk football again and I can't wait to get it started. For info on the Patriots check out our Behind Enemy Lines Affiliate bostonsportz.