Bucs live blog: Seven starters in lineup, Freeman throwing
We're in Houston getting ready for the Bucs' final preseason game, against the Texans, from Reliant Stadium.
We'll have another live blog session during tonight's game, so feel free to follow along.
The Bucs will sit most of their regulars tonight, including all of their offensive starters -- even Josh Johnson. Seven starters will play, all of them on defense. They are DE Kyle Moore, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Roy Miller, DE Stylez White, LB Quincy Black, LB Geno Hayes and SS Sean Jones.
Some notable players who have been thrust into the starting lineup are QB Rudy Carpenter, RB Kareem Huggins, WRs Michael Clayton and Reggie Brown, CB Myron Lewis, CB Elbert Mack and S Cody Grimm.
But perhaps the most notable news of the night is this: QB Josh Freeman warmed up with his teammates before the game, throwing a few deep balls with pretty good zip. He did not appear to be in any pain despite his broken thumb and looked like a guy who will be in the lineup come opening day. Obviously, he won't dress tonight, but look for him to perhaps return to practice when the Bucs get back to work this weekend.
The teams are on the field warming up as I type. Kickoff is at 8.
15:00: Game underway here. With all the nonstarters out there, this feels almost like, I don't know, rookie minicamp?
13:18: The Texans are sitting most of their starters too, but the way.
11:53: Huggins just caught a swing pass from Carpenter. He looks really impressive in the open field. Got 12 yards
9:15: Connor Barth kicks a 38-yard FG. He is still perfect this preseason (5-5). His biggest problem last year was consistency. There's no doubt he has a strong leg. That's not his issue. His problem is missing the makeable kicks when the Bucs really need points. Hopefully he's improved in that regard. They'll need him because the Bucs had problems finishing drives last season.
9:06: Slight change: EJ Biggers is actually starting, not Myron Lewis. And no Sean Jones tonight. Corey Lynch is in.
8:14: I would imagine the defensive starters that are in the game won't be for more than a series. But heck, you'd like for it to be a dominant series, right?
4:03: Jeremy Zuttah had to come off the bench after G Marc Dile ran off with an injury. And Zuttah proceeded to get completely killed on the subsequent play. I mean, he completely whiffed on his man. Huggins had to make something of nothing. And he did.
2:00: Seeing Clifton Smith get 13 yards on that checkdown pass out of the backfield is a reminder is what a threat he is in the open field. But I wonder if he'll ever overcome the scarlet letter he has on his chest in Tampa, the big F: Fumbler.
15:00: That possession, which ended with a punt, just reinformed the fact the Bucs have no depth on their offensive line. That, to me, is one of the major weaknesses of this team. Chances are, there will be an injury at some point this season.
13:03: I'll say this once: Dre Moore, make a play -- please. Not sure if you noticed, but he totally gave no effort to get off his block on Johnson's 14-yard run just now. He has not progressed nearly as much as these coaches had hoped. I think Ryan Sims has the edge over him for the last DT spot.
9:49: Remember what I said about the backup OL? Well, I think the same goes for the backup DL, too.
9:12: Corey freaking Lynch! 91 yard interception return for a TD. Great job reading Orlovsky on that play. I think he might have cheated and watched his eyes. Doesn't matter. A very instinctual play and a great return. He's definitely a bubble guy so that won't hurt.
8:11: I don't know what's up with these running lanes, but the Texans could drive a tractor through them. I though this defense was about gap control and things of that nature. I know these are long shots, but, man.
4:00: Getting back to the safety position... That Corey Lynch play got me thinking: What will the final roster look like at safety? Obviously you have Tanard Jackson and Sean Jones. Typically, you keep two backups. I believe Cody Grimm is a shoo-in. I'm assuming Sabby Piscitelli is the other, but for some reason I could envision a scenariio where he gets cut. I think it's a long shot though.
2:08: Another position where there will obviously be some tough decisions is receiver. I don't know that anything that has happened here tonight changes my opinion. Here's my projection (if they keep five): Mike Williams, Sammie Stroughter, Arrelious Benn, Maurice Stovall and Micheal Spurlock.
2:00: That's obviously a guess, but I'm basing it on the sense I get from being around the team every day. I think I have sold Spurlock short before now. He has really developed as a receiver and he can help this team.
:56: Corey Lynch is what the preseason is all about. A guy who is on the bubble but makes two huge plays in his last opportunity. Two picks tonight.
:22: Arrelious Benn finally finds the end zone. Nice, nice adjustment and a nice back shoulder throw from Carpenter. TD Bucs. I think Benn needed that for his confidence. He's really been struggling in the meeting room and nothing lifts your spirit like making a play. It's not much and it came against a scrub DB, but that kid needed that IMO.
Rick Stroud and I are sitting in the press box discussing the merits of keeping Corey Lynch over Piscitelli. I'm not saying he deserves it becuase of what he did here tonight, but Lynch is a guy who looks like he has instincts. I can't say that Piscitelli's are very good. He certainly didn't show much in that regard last season. This defense needs playmakers. And Corey Lynch might be one.
11:15: Obviously, Myron Lewis is still a work in progress. He just had a highlight and lowlight two plays apart. He gets a pass breakup in the end zone, only to give up a 32-yard TD two plays later in single coverage. It looked like Corey Lynch was on a blitz, so there wasn't any safety help.
8:06: I saw someone in the comments mentioned that they could potentially keep an extra safety for Week 1 because of Talib's suspension. That's true, but I suspect they will go with an extra CB for security (Roberson?).
2:23: Myron Lewis is getting a workout tonight. I think he's going to be a good one in the long term, but it won't be an overnight success. One thing I love: He's physical and he's a willing tackler. And his length is certainly an obstacle for QBs and WRs. He's just got to get a better understanding of what he's doing out there and he has a shot to be good.
1:50: Three injury updates: Benn has a ribs injury, Chris Pressley has a thigh, and Dotson has a knee injury. They say they're all questionable but really, they're done for the night.
:02: Benn is back. He;s the up man on the KO.
11:02: Pretty busy writing for the newspaper while blogging. Haven't yet figured out how to clone myself. Working on it.
10:46 Talk about an up and down night. Now Myron Lewis commits a personal foul during a Houston punt. He's got to play smarter. He's young. He'll learn.
10:46:: Gonna venture a guess and say that probably 80 percent of the players on the field right now are getting cut.
10:02: Notice that Arrelious Benn is out there. He needs snaps, period. He stays after practice with WRs coach Eric Yarber just about every day. They're working hard with him and he's working hard, too. I guess we should give it some time.
8:01: I will say this about Preston Parker: He is fun to watch with the ball in his hands. That saiid, I think he's got no shot. But I would him on my practice squad.
7:28: Arrelious Benn -- again! TD. 21 yard TD pass. GREAT catch. Took away from the DB in the end zone. . . Benn has had a rough preseason. Fans have been on him, media's been on him. Rightfully so, I think. Guess that's why his teammates swamped him on the sideline. They actually got an excessive celebration penalty. That's kind of ridiculous, but I kind of understand, too.
5:47: Gonna make my way downstairs for the postgame. If there's news later, we'll advise. Thanks!