Leading up to a game, I love scouring the local papers and blogs to check see which aspects of the game everyone highlights as important. Be sure to watch out for Player X! Take a long hard look at the defensive line! This is a really big game for Such-and-Such to prove he deserves a starting job. You know, that sort of stuff.
Most of the time, everyone’s in agreement about the big things. But you can learn a lot about the team by looking around and seeing all the different moving parts that different people are choosing to highlight. Football is a complex game full of a huge number of moving parts, so while it helps to have one or two things to focus on, there are many more interesting matchups and important battles happening that it’s impossible to focus on them all. And the more I read, the more I appreciate all these different players and the importance of every spot on the roster.
So what is everyone saying about today’s Bucs/Redskins game? This is the final preseason game, so it’s an important opportunity for the Buccaneers to make their last few roster decisions before opening up the season. There are numerous areas of the team with question marks still, but these seem to be the big three that are standing out:
Defense: The Bucs still have to cut a few of the defensive linemen on their roster, and there have been some surprising developments on their defense over the past few weeks. Michael Bennett has earned the starting defensive end role over Da’Quan Bowers, and George Johnson is making things difficult on the Bucs…in a good way.
Running Back: LeGarrette Blount has started off slow this preseason, and the Bucs are really lacking a strong backup running back. The Tampa Tribune is hinting that the Bucs may start looking for other backs off waivers, simply because they desperately need more depth at the position. Earnest Graham and Kregg Lumpkin (what a name!) seem the best two in-house candidates, so the Bucs will be hoping to see something from both of them tonight.
Tight Ends: Simply put, there are five players auditioning for three roster spots. Kellen Winslow and Luke Stocker are all but locks, leaving one final slot to be fought over between three players: Daniel Hardy, Ryan Purvis and Nathan Overbay. Their performance tonight could go a long way toward making that decision.
In the end, this game doesn’t make a difference at all in the standings, but it is still an important game for the Bucs. Who cares if they win or lose; right now, what matters the most is the process.