Finally, a Favre-free post
Okay, I know you're all sick of Brett the Great. It's been non-stop Favre around here which might have been a bit annoying, but I hope you realize a story of that magnitude has to be covered accordingly.
Now that it's over, let's talk a little football. The preseason opens Saturday night in Miami, and there should be some interesting revelations as the Bucs take the field for the first time.
We'll start at quarterback because, well, these are the Bucs. Luke McCown gets the start and, according to coach Jon Gruden, might play the entire first half. He'll get a chance to perform against the Dolphins' starters at least for a series or two, plus he'll have a chance to get into the rhythm of the game. Maybe we'll see whether he's managed to eliminate some of the flaws in his decision-making that he has worked hard to overcome during the offseason. In a recent conversation, he told me avoiding sacks is one of his primary objectives this season. He's looked quite good in camp. Now let's see how he fares against live action.
Brian Griese will enter either late in the first half or immediately after halftime, Gruden said. He'll probably get at least a quarter of playing time, giving Gruden a chance to do a decent amount of evaluation. To be fair, Gruden will switch things up next week and perhaps give Griese more playing time in an effort to get a comparable look at him and McCown. McCown's appearance on the intial depth chart as the No. 2 quarterback behind Jeff Garcia doesn't mean a whole lot. Remember, Gruden sometimes changes the order of his backup quarterbacks from week to week -- even during the regular season.
At running back, don't expect to see a lot of Warrick Dunn. Though we're all intrigued to see how he looks in a Bucs uniform after a six-year absence, Gruden doesn't push his veterans hard in the preseason, and this year will be no different. I'd be surprised if Dunn got more than a couple of carries. You will, however, see plenty of Ken Darby and Clifton Smith, and maybe a little of Earnest Graham and Michael Bennett.
The receivers will be scratching and clawing Saturday night. There is a pretty tight pack at the position, and it's time some of them started distinguishing themselves. There's no better time than on game day. Look for a statement from Michael Clayton, who seems ready to take a step forward based on his practice performance. He's catching balls that he almost surely would have dropped during the past couple of seasons, though he's got to do it when it matters. Maurice Stovall and Antonio Bryant have a lot to prove also.
On defense, keep an eye on the young guys as they try to make an impression. That includes safety Sabby Piscitelli, rookie lineman Dre Moore, linebackers Quincy Black and Adam Hayward and, of course, first-round pick Aqib Talib. If Talib is half as exciting as he has been in practice, we're in a for quite the show. He is still making some rookie mistakes on routine plays, but he has an uncanny ability to find the ball, and his hands are money (perhaps he should play some receiver).
We'll be in Miami to bring you the action, and we'll have plenty of details right here.