TAMPA, Fla. -- The panic that was so widespread among Tampa Bay Buccaneers' fans last week can rest for a bit.
The Bucs did some good things in just about every area in Saturday night’s 17-13 preseason victory against the Miami Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs also did some bad things, but none of them were the kind of mistakes that are unusual for preseason games.
That wasn’t the case in the past week’s loss to the New England Patriots, in which the Bucs did almost nothing positive. Yeah, the Patriots are an annual Super Bowl contender and coach Bill Belichick is known to demand intensity in exhibition games. The Dolphins probably aren’t going to be confused with the Patriots anytime soon, but they’re still a decent team.
Everything’s relative, but the measuring stick on the Bucs looks a lot better than it did a week ago. The defense generated some pressure and LeGarrette Blount flashed some big-play ability as a receiver out of the backfield.
Those are all things the Bucs knew they had to improve on and have been working on throughout the preseason.
Some other observations on the Bucs:
The NFL’s decision not to suspend cornerback Aqib Talib during the 2011 season is looking like a blessing. E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis, who would have taken on larger roles if Talib was suspended, both struggled. Biggers got beat by Brandon Marshall on a long touchdown pass and also got flagged for pass interference. Lewis also drew a pass-interference call.
There was a brief scary moment when second-year defensive tackle Brian Price went down in the second quarter. Price was playing for the first time since having surgery on his pelvis last year. He stayed down for a minute, walked off the field with the trainers, but returned to the game a few plays later. It didn’t appear the problem had anything to do with the pelvis. It looked like Price just had the wind knocked out of him.
Rookie tight end Luke Stocker, who missed most of camp and the first two preseason games with a hip injury, made his debut. He made one nice catch and probably has put himself in line to get some playing time behind Kellen Winslow and in two tight-end sets.
The Bucs have said all offseason they want Blount to be a more complete running back in his second season. He ran for 1,000 yards as a rookie, but only caught five passes. Looks like the Bucs have every intention of getting Blount involved in the passing game. He was targeted five times Saturday night and caught three passes for 62 yards, 52 of those came when Blount caught a short pass and made several nice cuts in the open field.