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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

8 p.m.: Stephen F. Holder blogs from Bucs-Pats

New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, left, greets Bucs running back Doug Martin as they sign autographs after a joint practice Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass.


New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, left, greets Bucs running back Doug Martin as they sign autographs after a joint practice Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass.



Will Tom Brady play tonight against the Bucs? Will the Patriots show any animosity toward Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn, whose bull rush led to Brady's knee sprain during a joint practice on Wednesday? How will Clayborn look in his first appearance since tearing his right ACL in Week 3 of last season? How about guard Carl Nicks, who returns from a toe injury?

Times beat reporter Stephen F. Holder will try to answer these questions and more as he blogs live from Gillette Stadium throughout tonight's preseason game between the Bucs and Pats. Join us, starting at 8 p.m.


*So, despite all the expectations we had of seeing left guard Carl Nicks tonight, in his first action since last season's toe injury, it turns out he won't play after all. The Bucs are going to sideline him out of an abundance of caution. Whether he plays next week, against the Dolphins, isn't clear yet. But it being the third preseason game, it's the one in which the starters play most extensively.

*Another player who won't suit up is running back Brian Leonard, who presumably has an injury. We'll clarify that a bit after the game because there's nothing official at the moment.

*Other inactive players include kicker Lawrence Tynes, cornerback Danny Gorrer and Zach Miller. Each is nursing an injury.


*I'm watching a lot of Da'Quan Bowers tonight, and frankly, there hasn't been much to see. He's being pulled in out of the game in exchange for Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, which doesn't show a lot of confidence in Bowers.

*The Patriots are already on the board with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola. Other than that play, the Patriots were content to make their gains in small chunks. The Bucs have to find ways to get off the field by forcing opponents into long down-and-distance situations. Brady had too many workable situations on that drive because they got decent gains on first down.

*New England went 4 for 4 on third downs on their opening drive, which it capped with a 2-point conversion.

*Michael Smith's 63-yard punt return was a fantastic play. He needs to show something more consistently to show he deserves the job.

*After Josh Freeman's sack on first down, the line gave great protection on third and 10. Kevin Ogletree needs to catch that ball if he's an above-average receiver. It was a tough play, no doubt. But in the NFL, that's a catchable ball. Again, can't ask for more out of the offensive line on that play. Freeman had all day.

*This is a mess, on both sides of the ball. Sloppy football, a lack of execution. Schiano has to be steaming and I suspect we might hear him express that after the game.

*Luke Stocker is playing for the first time tonight. Hasn't caught a ball but has looked okay as a blocker.


*Right tackle is looking like a problem area for the Bucs. We got some signs this week that Gabe Carimi was starting to make things interesting behind Demar Dotson. But the truth is, neither is playing well tonight. Both have given up sacks already and neither looks like a great option. This is something that bears watching.

*Still no report on Doug Martin, who left the game with a head injury. Defensive end Chandler Jones' knee kicked Martin in the head during a pass rush.

*Special teams continues to be a bright spot, perhaps the only bright spot. Eric Page just had a 40-yard kickoff return. Add that to Smith's impressive return earlier on.

*Keith Tandy has a shoulder, the Bucs say, and is probable to return. He's a likely keeper on the 53-man roster, so that's good.

*I like what I've seen from the backup running backs, Mike James and Peyton Hillis. Both hit the hole hard and decisively.

*Kevin Ogletree is miles ahead of Tiquan Underwood at this point. His touchdown catch was partially the result of a coverage bust, but he's had a strong camp and is playing well for the second game in a row.

*Mike Glennon finishes the first half 7 for 10 for 88 yards. He had some protection issues to deal with early and he had an errant throw or two, but overall, he's been pretty consistent. He hit open men with accurate throws, albeit against backups -- which Freeman did not face.

*Underwood's 41-yard reception from Glennon at the end of the half displayed his speed well, but it was also a very impressive throw from Glennon. Dumped it right over the top of the two defenders.

[Last modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 9:52pm]


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