Round 2 for Receivers
Saturday's game against the Dolphins will be critical for many players, but particularly for many members of the receiving corps.
There are so many receivers fighting for only a few available spots, so the Bucs will be watching many of the reserves closely this week. Much of next week's game at Jacksonville will be played by the starters -- probably most of the first half -- so the opportunities for the backups will be fewer.
Thus, this is the week to make an impression. We'll be watching closely guys like David Boston, who didn't show much in his preseason debut and hasn't exactly lit it up in practice of late. This comes after a brilliant first week of camp when Boston looked nimble and fast.
It'll also be interesting to see if Chas Gessner, the journeyman out of Brown University, can have a good showing. He is quickly gaining a reputation as a practice player who doesn't show up in games. Gessner didn't have any of the 14 receptions in last week's contest against the Jets despite drawing roars from the crowd in training camp for his many difficult catches.
Another receiver to watch: Paris Warren. He has been having an impressive camp, and he clearly has made an impact on coach Jon Gruden. Whether that's enough to keep him around remains to be seen. But right now, he appears to be the Bucs' best chance to make something of the three receivers they drafted in 2005: Warren, J.R. Russell and Larry Brackins. Russell is still around and needs to make some gains quickly if he intends to stick.
And don't forget about Edell Shepherd. Though he became a contributor last season and helped win a game with his decisive touchdown reception against the Redskins, he also can be inconsistent and dropped the most important pass of 2005: a would-be touchdown in the wildcard game against the Redskins.
The sure things to make the final roster, as of today, appear to be Joey Galloway, Michael Clayton, third-round pick Maurice Stovall, and Gruden favorite Ike Hilliard. That leaves two, maybe three (and that's a real stretch) available spots on the 53-man roster.
Let the competition begin.