(Sports Network) – A few notable members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be down to their final shot to make the roster tonight, when the Bucs visit the Houston Texans in the final preseason game for each team.
Days after the Bucs released disappointing running back Derrick Ward, speculation about further cuts will now centered on veterans such as wide receiver Michael Clayton and safety Sabby Piscitelli, both of whom have had lackluster preseasons thus far. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris openly criticized Ward and Piscitelli in comments to the media last week, while Clayton has been passed on the depth chart by rookie Mike Williams and former backup Sammie Stroughter and could be surplus to needs at this stage.
Clayton should play Thursday, though Piscitelli suffered a concussion in last Saturday’s 19-13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and is expected to be held out.
With starting QB Josh Freeman (thumb) unavailable on Thursday, backups Josh Johnson, Rudy Carpenter and possibly rookie Jevan Snead will be in charge of the offense against the Texans.
Johnson has had a nice preseason to date, completing 23-of-37 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and 45 rushing yards to solidify the primary backup role.
Texans fans on hand Thursday night should not expect to be a great deal of principle figures like quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster wideout Andre Johnson or tight end Owen Daniels.
Dan Orlovsky should see early action for the Texans, with third-string candidate John David Booty likely to play a bulk of the second half.
One of the more intriguing storylines for Houston on Thursday will be the final frontier of the kicking battle between Kris Brown and Neil Rackers, who are viewed as being neck-and-neck heading into the Bucs contest. Both players are 4-for-4 on field goals during the 2010 preseason.
Following Thursday’s games, all 32 NFL teams will have until 6pm ET on Saturday evening to trim their rosters to the 53-player maximum.
Tampa Bay has a 6-2 lead in its all-time preseason series with Houston, but was a 27-20 home loser when the teams met prior to last season.
The Texans open their 2010 regular season at home against the AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 12th, while the Buccaneers host the Cleveland Browns the same day.