The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open up their 2019 preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Expect to see most of the first-team offense and defense only play a series or two (depending on how well they do).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers football is finally back and several guys who come in after the first and second teams will make this roster. Of course, these preseason games do not matter when it comes to the standings, but these games determine who will win significant depth battles. The kicking battle between Matt Gay and Cairo Santos will also be determined. And of course, we will learn who will, and who won’t be Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2019 season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold a sad 2-9 franchise-record vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bucs only wins came in 1998 and 2014. In their most recent meeting (last season), the Steelers defeated the Bucs 30-27 in their Week three Monday Night Football matchup.
This is Byron Leftwich’s first preseason as an Offensive Coordinator. He took over as the offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals in Week eight last season after Mike McCoy was fired. Now with a full offseason under his belt, and a high-potential quarterback in Jameis Winston, it will be interesting to see how he handles play-calling for the high-powered Bucs offense.
Running Back #3
Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones II have locked down the first and second string Running Back positions. The first official team depth chart (released August 6th) currently has Andre Ellington as RB3. However, I think this battle is far from over. This game, as well as the other preseason games, will give us a better understanding of the depth we have at Running Back. Undrafted rookie Dare Ogunbowale out of Wisconsin has shined so far in training camp.
Ogunbowale has busted several long runs during camp and looks to be an above-average receiving threat out of the backfield. Today in training camp, Ogunbowale was taking reps with the first-team offense. He made the most of the opportunity and made an impressive catch against the first-team defense. Another name to keep an eye on is another undrafted rookie, Bruce Anderson from North Dakota State. Anderson has also had a solid camp but looks to be questionable to play Friday night with achilles tendonitis.
The Bucs are excited to hit somebody other than their own teammates. This Bruce Arians led training camp has been far more physical than the camps we saw under Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter. On multiple occasions, there have been some loud cracks of the pads during live tackling drills. It will be interesting to see how the defense comes out and attacks the Steelers offense. I expect to see far fewer missed tackles than preseason and regular-season games in the past.
Young Defensive Backs
It is clear Jason Licht has tried to address the weakest part of this team in the past two drafts. The Bucs have invested multiple high-round draft picks into DBs and I expect them to play A LOT Friday. Second-year defensive back Jordan Whitehead (4th round) has secured his spot as a starting safety, he was second on the team in tackles last season (61), behind only Lavonte David (94).
Aside from Whitehead, last year’s second-round DBs Carlton Davis and MJ Stewart still have a lot to prove. As do this year’s rookie defensive backs… 2nd rounder Sean Murphy Bunting (CB), and 3rd rounder Mike Edwards (S) will both get their first NFL experience. 3rd round corner Jamel Dean will have to wait to play his first game. Bruce Arians said on Wednesday Dean will not travel to Pittsburgh due to a hip flexor. Undrafted safety D’Cota Dixon, who was having a great training camp, was put on the IR on Thursday. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles will rely heavily on many of these young Bucs in the regular season. The new era of Bucs defense all starts Friday night!