NFC South: Myron Lewis

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are approaching their preseason opener with caution.

Just about every player with any sort of injury will sit out Thursday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Bucs just announced that Darrelle Revis, Carl Nicks, Davin Joseph, Adrian Clayborn, Luke Stocker, Lawrence Tynes, Sean Baker, Erik Lorig, Jacob Cutrera, David Douglas, Derek Landri, Gary Gibson and Aaron Morgan will not be active for the game.

In other news, the Bucs have released cornerback Myron Lewis, a third-round pick in 2010, and signed cornerback Mason Robinson.

When Eric Wright agreed to restructure his contract and take a massive pay cut back in April, it appeared as if he’d be staying with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It turns out that’s not the case. The Bucs announced Friday afternoon that they have traded Wright to the San Francisco 49ers for a late-round conditional draft pick in 2014.

That brings an abrupt ending to a union the Bucs thought would be a good one when they signed Wright to a five-year, $35.2 million contract in 2012. But Wright never really caught on in Tampa Bay.

He missed part of last year’s offseason program while dealing with an undisclosed medical issue. He later was suspended for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The Bucs traded for cornerback Darrelle Revis and used their top draft pick on cornerback Johnthan Banks. At first, it appeared as if Revis, Wright and Banks would be the team’s top three cornerbacks.

But it now is obvious the Bucs weren’t sold on Wright even at a reduced price. A source said Wright's attitude in recent months didn't conform with what the team likes and the Bucs would have released him if they were unable to trade him. According to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office records, Wright was arrested in California on an unspecified misdemeanor charge July 12.

With Wright gone, Banks becomes the leading candidate to start opposite Revis.

Michael Adams, Leonard Johnson, Myron Lewis, Anthony Gaitor and some other young cornerbacks now will compete for the job as nickel back.

Also, the Bucs will not take any cap hit for unloading Wright. Instead, they freed up his $1.5 million base salary, which becomes San Francisco’s burden.

Today in NFC South history

April, 15, 2013
On this date in 2010, Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik sat down for a pre-draft chat with the local media.

All around the league, those sessions are as generic as possible. General managers aren’t going to tell you who they’re going to draft and they only speak in vague terms. But Dominik did say one thing of note that day.

“If this draft doesn’t succeed, I won’t either," Dominik said.

I think Dominik was talking about the long term and the long term is approaching for Dominik. He’s been Tampa Bay’s general manager since 2009 and the Bucs haven’t made the playoffs. I wouldn’t say he’s on the hot seat right now, but he could get there if this season doesn’t go well.

And Dominik’s 2010 statement is ringing true. He needs a good season from the class of 2010. He also could use some help from the players from the 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 drafts.

But he was talking about the class of 2010 that day, so let’s stick with that. That class included Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, Arrelious Benn, Myron Lewis, Mike Williams, Brent Bowden, Cody Grimm, Dekoda Watson and Erik Lorig.

Six of those nine players are still with the team, which isn’t a bad ratio. But Price and Benn were second-round picks and they’re no longer with the team, which doesn’t reflect well.

McCoy and Williams have become very good players. Lorig, who was drafted as a defensive end, has turned out to be a solid fullback. Lewis, Grimm and Watson are role players at best.

Dominik’s statement rings more true today than it did three years ago. He needs a big year from the class of 2010 to succeed.

He needs McCoy to have another Pro Bowl year (and stay healthy). He needs Williams to turn in another big year opposite Vincent Jackson. And he needs Lorig to keep clearing the way for tailback Doug Martin. It wouldn’t hurt if Lewis, Grimm and Watson can’t contribute a little.

As I said before, Dominik also could use some help from his other draft classes. But if the class of 2010 succeeds this year, Dominik also has a good chance at success.

Around the NFC South

March, 23, 2013
It’s a pretty quiet Saturday morning in the NFC South. But let’s take a run through the headlines that are out there:


Adam Schefter reports the Falcons hope to have defensive end Osi Umenyiora signed by the end of the weekend. The Falcons have been very deliberate in their moves this offseason, so I’m not planning on going too far off the grid this weekend, in case a Umenyiora deal comes down. If it does, the Falcons will have their pass-rusher, and cornerback will be their lone remaining hole.


Although it looked like he might be headed elsewhere, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards reportedly re-signed with the Panthers on Friday night. He’s a strong interior pass-rusher, and his return should help Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy on the outside.


Free-agent linebacker Victor Butler concluded his visit to New Orleans without a contract. It’s unclear if the Saints are still in the mix, but Butler reportedly has a visit with Cleveland scheduled for Monday.


The Bucs basically are starting from scratch at cornerback, which makes you wonder why Myron Lewis is still on the roster. He’s been a bust. But Scott Reynolds writes Lewis will get one more training camp with the team because he still has upside, and the Bucs hope that new secondary coach Tony Oden can help Lewis reach his potential. Anything is possible, but I think that’s a lot to expect from a guy that hasn’t shown many positives. In other words, the Bucs better continue their search for more cornerbacks through a trade, free agency and the draft.

Looking at Bucs' defensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
The knock on Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in his first two seasons was that he couldn’t stay on the field.

Arm injuries ended each of McCoy’s first two seasons prematurely and there was talk the former No. 3 overall draft choice was a bust.

Funny, but McCoy, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl, barely came off the field in 2012. He took part in 939 of Tampa Bay’s 1,078 defensive plays. McCoy’s 87.11 playing-time percentage ranked second among all NFL defensive tackles. Only San Francisco’s Ray McDonald had a higher percentage (90.85).

Here’s a look at the rest of the playing-time percentages for Tampa Bay’s defensive players.

Around the NFC South

December, 12, 2012
Time for a run through the Wednesday morning headlines from around the NFC South:


Mark Bradley makes an excellent point when he writes that the fact the Falcons already have clinched the NFC South title essentially puts them into another preseason. But the Falcons can’t afford to look at it that way. They still need to wrap up the No. 1 seed throughout the NFC playoffs, and they need to build some momentum as they head into the playoffs.


The team placed safety Haruki Nakamura on injured reserve. That gives the Panthers 16 players who are out for the season. That’s two short of last season's franchise record.


Jeffri Chadiha writes that coach Sean Payton is the person most responsible for the whole bounty scandal. I’d put former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams up there, too. But Chadiha’s point is that Payton’s arrogance set a tone in which an unhealthy culture grew out of control, and I think that’s a pretty accurate assessment of this sordid affair.

Jonathan Vilma has until Wednesday afternoon to decide if he wants to continue with his defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Vilma’s attorney said Tuesday that his client plans to continue with the suit, but we’ll see what happens in the next few hours.


Just in time for Christmas, the Bucs announced they’re cutting prices on about 35 percent of their seats for next season. The team also said prices won’t increase for the other seats. Smart move by a team that’s only had the local television blackout lifted for two home games this season.

Cornerback Brandon McDonald, who was with the team earlier in the season, was re-signed. McDonald should provide some depth after Myron Lewis was placed on injured reserve.

NFC South afternoon update

December, 10, 2012
I arrived back at NFC South Blog headquarters just a bit ago and there are a whole lot of odds and ends to catch up on from all around the division. Let’s take a rapid-fire look:


The team’s plans for a new stadium seemed to take another step forward as the Georgia World Congress Center Authority approved a non-binding term sheet that will provide the basis for further negotiation. There still likely will be some ups and downs, but both sides seem to be moving toward getting a deal done.

The Falcons held injured cornerback Asante Samuel out of Sunday’s game with Carolina even though he was on the active roster. Coach Mike Smith said Samuel could have played in an emergency situation. But the Falcons obviously were being cautious with the veteran. Smith said he expects Samuel to practice Wednesday. Smith wasn’t as optimistic about safety William Moore, who sat out Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.


Scott Fowler writes that Cam Newton’s 72-yard touchdown run against Atlanta should be on the list of the greatest plays in franchise history. I agree that Newton’s run was spectacular, but I’m not ready to declare it a pivotal moment in franchise history just yet. If, in hindsight, the play ends up helping Ron Rivera keep his job and the Panthers come back and do some great things next season, then the Newton run truly will be special.

The war of words between the Falcons and Panthers isn’t over even though the season series is. Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant reportedly said outspoken Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy and his teammates can “watch us in January’’. This rivalry always has simmered but it’s really heating up. Too bad former Carolina punter Todd Sauerbrun still isn’t in the league because he was a master at stirring the pot.


Bradley Handwerger writes that the Saints seem to have lost the aura of invincibility they’ve had for the past three seasons. That’s true. They’re back to being about the same team they were in 2007 and ’08. Assuming suspended coach Sean Payton gets his contract situation worked out, he's going to have to do some rebuilding next season.

A ruling by former NFL commissioner on the appeals of suspensions in the bounty scandal reportedly will be announce Tuesday.


Roy Cummings writes that Sunday marked the fourth time this season the Bucs have blown a fourth-quarter lead. But Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia is disconcerting for a team that had appeared to be on the rise. The previous lost fourth-quarter opportunities came against the Falcons, Giants and Redskins. Those are teams that are at good teams. The Eagles don’t even fall into that category.

Coach Greg Schinao said his decision to punt to Philadelphia near the end of Sunday’s game was not due to a lack of confidence in quarterback Josh Freeman and the offense. Schiano said he decided to take his chances with his defense against rookie quarterback Nick Foles, who ended up leading his team to a game-winning drive. I’d take my chances with Tampa Bay’s run defense, but the pass defense has been a completely different story. Even against a rookie quarterback, it wasn’t good enough.

One late addition here -- The Bucs just announced they have placed cornerback Myron Lewis on inured reserve and claimed guard Hayworth Hicks off waivers from Kansas City.

Bucs' free-agent class continues fade

November, 26, 2012
All of a sudden, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' splashy free-agent class isn’t looking quite as good as it did back in March, or even September or October.

A little more luster came off the class Monday as coach Greg Schiano said that cornerback Eric Wright will serve a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, starting immediately.

Wright, receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks were the trio of marquee players the Bucs signed at the start of free agency in March. Wright got a five-year contract worth $37.5 million and Nicks and Jackson got even bigger deals.

Jackson has been a success story, providing quarterback Josh Freeman with a true No. 1 receiver for the first time in his career. Nicks played well before going on injured reserve after seven games.

But Wright has been something of a question mark all along. He missed part of the offseason program for medical reasons that the team never detailed.

Wright appeared in the first 10 games and his play was unspectacular. He made 39 tackles and had one interception. He’d been bothered by an Achilles tendon injury in recent weeks and missed Sunday’s game against Atlanta.

His absence leaves the Bucs dangerously thin at cornerback, since they previously traded starter Aqib Talib, who also was issued a four-game suspension for violating the same policy. Talib was traded to New England three games into his suspension.

E.J. Biggers took over Talib’s starting job and undrafted rookie Leonard Johnson got the start in Wright’s place Sunday and was targeted on an 80-yard touchdown pass to Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones. LeQuan Lewis, Myron Lewis and Danny Gorrer are the only other cornerbacks currently on the roster.

But the Bucs could consider moving safety Ronde Barber back to cornerback. Barber played that position his entire career before moving to safety this season.

Moving Barber, 37, would be only a short-term solution. But short-term solutions are the only possibilities for the Bucs at this point in the season.

It’s becoming quite obvious they’ll have to add at least a couple of cornerbacks via the draft and free agency. And maybe the Bucs should look at Wright as a cautionary tale that nothing is guaranteed (other than $15 million in base salary over the course of the first two years of Wright’s contract) with players that aren't being re-signed by their current teams.

Eric Wright out for Buccaneers

November, 25, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. -- A Tampa Bay pass defense that already has been struggling will be without a key component Sunday.

Cornerback Eric Wright will not play against the Atlanta Falcons, coach Greg Schiano told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio on Sunday morning. Wright has been bothered by an Achilles tendon injury in recent weeks.

His absence leaves the Bucs open to all sorts of matchup problems against Atlanta receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Jones is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and we’ll find out if he’s playing within the hour.

Without Wright, the Bucs have E.J. Biggers as one starter. Leonard Johnson has been productive in recent weeks and he and LeQuan Lewis are likely to be the second and third corners. The Bucs also could give Myron Lewis or Danny Gorrer some playing time.

I'll be back with the full list of inactives for both teams a few minutes after they're turned in at 11:30 a.m.

Bucs made right move on Aqib Talib

November, 1, 2012
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded away their best cornerback Thursday, which may sound like a risky move.

But I’ll go ahead right now and cast a vote for Mark Dominik for general manager of the year simply for getting something via trade in return for the troubled Aqib Talib. The Bucs also sent their seventh-round pick along with Talib to the Patriots and said their compensation is New England's fourth-round pick in 2013, which is about three rounds higher than I would have expected. Dominik deserves praise for getting anything in exchange for this guy.

[+] EnlargeAqib Talib
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireTampa Bay dealt cornerback Aqib Talib to the Patriots in a deadline deal on Thursday.
Heck, Talib isn’t even eligible to play for the Patriots right away. He still has one game left on his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. In a statement released by the Bucs when the suspension was announced, Talib said he took Adderall without a prescription.

There also has been a Fox Sports report that Tampa Bay’s other starting cornerback, Eric Wright, soon will face a similar suspension for using the same substance. If that’s true, it may seem risky to go ahead and trade Talib, but it’s not.

This was a move that was long overdue. And, even though coach Greg Schiano previously said Talib would be back with the Bucs after the suspension, you knew it wouldn’t be for long. Talib’s contract is scheduled to end at the end of the season and I’m pretty sure the Bucs simply would have let him walk into free agency.

From the moment the Bucs hired Schiano, you knew he and Talib were the oddest couple since Oscar Madison and Felix Unger. When Kellen Winslow and Tanard Jackson quickly were shown the door, I was surprised Talib wasn’t with them.

This is a guy the Bucs put up with way too much trouble from in the past. Jon Gruden and Raheem Morris let Talib run amok because he had some talent. But Schiano isn’t Gruden or Morris.

He’s a coach who doesn’t put up with off-field problems. And Talib was a constant problem. He had a well-publicized incident with a cab driver, some altercations with teammates and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in Texas, although the charges were later dropped.

At times, Talib would give the media the old song and dance about how he’d grown up and matured. But then he’d turn right around and do something immature. Talib had such difficulty managing his anger, I once saw him come very close to getting into a physical altercation with a member of the local media.

The Bucs might have to rely on young guys like Leonard Johnson, Brandon McDonald and Myron Lewis at cornerback in the short term, especially if Wright does face a suspension.

But the Bucs will be better off in the long run without Talib. Even if they had kept him just for the remainder of this season, there’s a pretty good chance they would have faced another headache or two along the way.

This way, the Bucs got rid of a headache and got something in return. That’s a win. Let's see how well Talib and New England coach Bill Belichick get along.

By the way, I now have dropped my dysfunction rating on the Bucs in this earlier column from 35 percent to 25 percent, in light of the Talib trade.

NFC South afternoon update

October, 29, 2012
Time to take a look at the day's top headlines from around the NFC South:


Coach Greg Schiano said he could not address a FOX Sports report that cornerback Eric Wright soon will be suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The NFL hasn’t announced anything yet. It’s possible this situation is in the appeals process. It’s also possible that, with the NFL office closed due to Hurricane Sandy, this matter might not be dealt with immediately. Either way, Schiano said Wright has an Achilles injury that could keep him out of Sunday’s game at Oakland. Get ready to see more of Leonard Johnson, E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis.

Roscoe Parrish, who was brought in to solidify a struggling punt-return game, muffed a punt against Minnesota and hasn’t had a big return yet. But Parrish said he’s confident better times are ahead and he doesn’t want to press too much. Sounds good in theory, but Parrish might want to press a bit because I’m not sure the Bucs have come to view him as the long-term solution.


Bradley Handwerger writes that it’s time to accept the reality that this isn’t going to be the Saints’ season. There still was a glimmer of hope going into Sunday night, but that disappeared when the Broncos ripped the Saints apart. The Saints have way too many problems to make a dramatic turnaround. I’m looking at their remaining schedule and I see only five games that I think they even have a chance to win. That means 7-9 is an absolute best-case scenario.


Coach Ron Rivera said the Panthers aren’t actively shopping anyone for a trade. But that doesn’t mean nothing will happen before Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline. Teams don’t usually shop their own players. Other teams generally have an idea of who might be on the block and they’ll make inquiries. If someone asks about running back DeAngelo Williams, or almost anyone else on the roster, I think the Panthers a least have to listen.

Scott Fowler writes that bad coaching decisions were responsible for Sunday’s loss to Chicago. He’s right. Rivera made some questionable moves, but it wasn’t all about the coaching. You can also put plenty of blame on the players.


Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon suffered a low-ankle sprain against Philadelphia. As is his custom, coach Mike Smith wouldn’t go into much detail about the injury, so we’ll have to see if Weatherspoon returns to practice later in the week. Against the Eagles, the Falcons had middle linebacker Akeem Dent pick up the snaps after Weatherspoon was injured. But if Weatherspoon is going to miss any games, it would be significant. He probably has been Atlanta’s best linebacker this season.

Smith said defensive tackle Corey Peters played 20 snaps as he made his season debut after sitting out the first six games with a foot injury. As long as there are no setbacks, I’d imagine you’ll see Peters’ playing time gradually increase as the season goes on.

Around the NFC South

October, 9, 2012
Time for a run through the Tuesday morning headlines from around the NFC South:


Outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas suffered an ankle injury at Washington and his status for Sunday’s Oakland game remains unclear. Nicholas and fellow outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon have been getting the majority of the playing time. But the Falcons have been leaving middle linebacker Akeem Dent on the field a little more in recent games. Robert James and veteran Mike Peterson also can play the outside.

Defensive tackle Corey Peters has been on the physically unable to perform list with an injury to his foot. The window for him to be eligible to begin practicing comes open next week. Once Peters begins practicing, the Falcons have a three-week window to decide if they want to activate him. Peria Jerry opened the season in Peters’ place and played well at first. But the Falcons have turned more to Vance Walker in recent weeks.


Even Cecil Newton Sr., the father of quarterback Cam Newton, said his son needs to change his demeanor when dealing with adversity. The father agrees that Cam may be pressing too hard, but says he’ll be back strong after the bye.

Jon Beason said he plans to return to middle linebacker after the bye. Rookie Luke Kuechly played well in the middle while Beason was out with an injury in Sunday’s loss to Seattle. Kuechly played the first four games on the outside, but played in the middle in college.

Here’s a new one: Running back DeAngelo Williams took to Twitter to fire back at fantasy owners that are upset with his lack of production. First off, I’m more than a little amazed that, as a professional athlete, Williams has the time to sit around and read what people are saying about him on Twitter. Doesn’t he have more important things to do with his time? Second, I wouldn’t put the blame on Williams for not putting up major numbers. I’d place it on Carolina’s coaching staff, which seems to have no idea how to get maximum production out of its talented backfield.


Veteran linebacker Barrett Ruud was released and cornerback Elbert Mack was re-signed. Ruud, who once was a very productive player in Tampa Bay, was added at the end of the preseason when the Saints had a bunch of injuries at linebacker. But Ruud, who has been slowed by injuries and age in recent years, never made an impact and was limited to duty on special teams.

Bradley Handwerger writes that the Saints got some of their swagger back in Sunday night’s victory. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense suddenly became more aggressive. The defense needs to keep playing that way and the swagger needs to stay if the Saints are going to have any chance of climbing back into the playoff picture.


Cornerback Anthony Gaitor, who missed the first four games with an injury, has returned to practice. Gaitor’s return could make it difficult for Myron Lewis or Leonard Johnson to stay on the roster.

Dory LeBlanc writes that recently-acquired Nate Byham could give the Bucs a true blocking tight end. That’s not the strength of Dallas Clark and Luke Stocker and Byham’s presence could help open holes in a running game that hasn’t been very explosive so far.

NFC South evening update

September, 11, 2012
It’s the players’ day off around the NFC South, but some news and notes are still surfacing. Let’s take a run through the latest headlines:
  • With Brent Grimes lost to a season-ending injury, the Falcons are expected to work out some cornerbacks Wednesday. D. Orlando Ledbetter has a list of the veteran cornerbacks available. As you might expect the list of guys available is not that impressive at this time of year. The name that jumped out at me most was Lito Sheppard. I have no idea what he has left physically. But Shepperd was a very good cornerback earlier in his career and might be able to still give the Falcons something, just based on his wisdom. The Falcons did announce Tuesday afternoon they’ve signed cornerback Terrence Johnson, who spent last season with Indianapolis. But the Falcons may be looking for someone with more experience than Johnson.
  • The mother of former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand says she and her son will make themselves available to help Tulane player Devon Walker and his family. Walker suffered a spinal injury last weekend. LeGrand was paralyzed in a 2010 game while playing for coach Greg Schiano, who moved to Tampa Bay this year. In a symbolic gesture, the Bucs signed LeGrand as a free agent after the draft.
  • In his weekly film study, Mike Triplett writes that the New Orleans defense spent Sunday on its heels against the Redskins. We knew not to expect new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to blitz as often as Gregg Williams did. But Triplett puts out the few times the Saints blitzed early on produced disastrous results.
  • Stephen Holder points out that the fact the Bucs used recently-acquired cornerback Brandon McDonald ahead of Myron Lewis on Sunday probably does not bode well for Lewis’ future with the team. Lewis might have a tough time staying on the roster once E.J. Biggers and Anthony Gaitor return from injuries.
  • Although Tampa Bay’s rookie class is drawing rave reviews for its performance in the opener, Carolina’s is not. Bryan Strickland points out that linebacker Luke Kuechly got burned on Tampa Bay’s first touchdown drive, cornerback Josh Norman got flagged for pass interference and guard Amini Silatolu drew a couple penalties and lost some one-on-one battles.

Checking injuries that matter most

September, 7, 2012
Obviously, I’ve been a little tied up with the news that the player suspensions in the New Orleans bounty drama have been overturned, at least temporarily. But Friday afternoon is usually the time when I give you updates on the division’s most significant injuries.

So, let’s take care of that now.

Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is listed as questionable for Sunday. Stewart hasn’t practiced, but he ran on the side Friday and was able to cut. Coach Ron Rivera is holding out some optimism that Stewart will be able to play against the Buccaneers. If he can’t, it likely means an increased workload for DeAngelo Williams and fullback Mike Tolbert could get some time at tailback.

Tampa Bay receiver Arrelious Benn (knee) fully participated in practice Friday and is listed as questionable. Cornerbacks E.J. Biggers (foot) and Anthony Gaitor (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis and are doubtful. That could mean some playing time for Myron Lewis.

Atlanta’s injury report is very light. Cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) and running back Jason Snelling practiced fully on Friday and are listed as probable.

New Orleans receiver Marques Colston (foot), linebackers Curtis Lofton (ankle) and David Hawthorne (left knee), cornerback Jabari Greer (sports hernia) are listed as questionable. Since Adrian Arrington missed much of the preseason, I’d expect him to be out Sunday. But Lofton and Hawthorne practiced fully Friday and both have said they expect to play in the opener against the Redskins. Greer and Colston practiced on a limited basis, but seem to be on track to play Sunday.

Countdown to Bucs' game

August, 29, 2012
The final week of the preseason is about to begin.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play at Washington on Wednesday night at 7. The Saints, Falcons and Panthers each are scheduled to play their final exhibition contest on Thursday night.

Let’s get ready for the Bucs’ game by checking out some headlines:
  • Dory LeBlanc has a list of five things to watch. She starts it off with the chemistry of the offensive line. This is a huge issue after the Bucs lost Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph to a season-ending injury. The Bucs want to take a look at several players (Ted Larsen, Jamon Meredith and Derek Hardman are the candidates) at right guard. But it might be tough to develop much chemistry in this game because the starters aren’t expected to stay in for long.
  • Stephen Holder has a list of five players to watch in the final preseason game. Receiver Jordan Shipley is on there and it’s tough to get a read on if he’ll make the team. Shipley has been with the Bucs for only a week, after being claimed off waivers from the Bengals. Shipley had a knee injury last year and the Bucs need to get a good look at him before they cut down their roster to 53 on Friday.
  • Speaking of trimming the roster, Roy Cummings points out that cornerback Myron Lewis might be on the bubble. Lewis seems to have dropped off after getting off to a fast start in training camp.
  • Speaking of guys that might be on the bubble, Mark Cooks has a list of offensive players that might have a tough time making the team. One of them is running back Mossis Madu. He’s right on the fringe. Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount are locks to make the team and rookie Michael Smith appears to be ahead of Madu on the depth chart. Madu’s only shot at a roster spot may come only if the Bucs decide to carry four running backs.

I’ll be back with observations on the Bucs soon after the game ends. Meantime, feel free to use the comments section below to share your thoughts on what you see out of the Bucs.