Tonight: Stephen Holder blogs from Bucs-Dolphins
Join us tonight at 7:30 p.m., as Times beat reporter Stephen F. Holder blogs live from the Bucs' preseason opener against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Stephen will share his thoughts and observations as head coach Greg Schiano makes his professional head coaching debut and Bucs fans get their first look at Mark Barron, Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks, among others. We invite you to share your thoughts in the "Comments'' area below.
So, I'm here at Sun Life/Whateveryoucallit Stadium in Miami, where the Bucs are preparing to take the Dolphins. It looks like the rain has subsided and we'll have decent conditions for the start of the Greg Schiano era.
The Bucs officially have no scratches from their active roster tonight. That means everyone is dressed, but it doesn't guarantee everyone will play. In fact, it's highly unlikely that will happen.
I'll be back momentarily with more details as we get closer to kickoff.
*The Bucs defense took the field first, and there were notable moves in the stating lineup to detail. Safety Cody Grimm was surprisingly in the starting lineup. He replaced rookie Mark Barron who apparently isn't completely healed from that toe injury. Also, Aqib Talib (hamstring) appears to be out , replaced by Myron Lewis.
*On offense, the Bucs start with LeGarrette Blount in the backfield. He gains 7 yards on two carries. Doug Martin is the third-down back. This isn't a shocker. I would expect we'll see Martin get a chance to start at some point in the preseason.
*Great start for Blount. He's shown some versatility we haven't seen much of in the past on this drive. He lined up out wide and caught a quick screen. He's also run a sweep. I like what I see. Haven't seen as much of this in practice. Blount scores from 1 yard out on a fourth-and-goal play. He has 30 yards on seven carries.
*Bucs struggled a bit against that Dolphins no-huddle. But with the no huddle, a team needs consistent execution. When you're playing at that kind of tempo, mistakes happen. Plus, it doesn't hurt when Adrian Clayborn and Mason Foster flatten a running back as they did a few minutes ago.
*Good looking second drive for the Bucs. If you're wondering who Tiquan Underwood is, read today's paper. I thought the defender did a poor job of playing that last deep ball, but Underwood deserves credit for making the catch in traffic. He has consistently made big plays in practice, and I think he has real home-run potential. I admittedly did not have high hopes for him, plus I wanted to see whether he could do it in games. But he is not surprising. In fact, he's opening lots of eyes -- mine included.
*Doug Martin now has 21 yards on seven carries, and just scored on a 2-yard touchdown. Also had a 7-yard reception.
*Lavonte David made a nice adjustment to make that interception of a tipped ball. We've consistently told you about his instincts in coverage, and that was an example of it right there. If the Bucs' projections are accurate, he should make a lot of plays in coverage this season. With the extensive use of tight ends and running backs as receivers these days, you have to have linebackers who can cover.
*Guess who's back? Another big play for David, who made a great open-field tackle on a punt return. He plays faster than you would expect a rookie to. What a fabulous addition -- so far.
*Preston Parker fumbles a punt and the Dolphins take over. Yes, it's wet. And no, Greg Schiano won't give a darn. He has put his team on notice that turnovers will not be tolerated. I know it's preseason, but I wonder whether Schiano will start to consider other options considering Parker's history of this on special teams.
*Anthony Gaitor knocks down a fourth-down pass intended for Charles Clay to end the first half. It was a big play for Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tanneyhill, who is making his debut.
*Dan Orlovsky continues to look sharp. He finishes 8 for 8 for 91 yards. I've said all during training camp that he looked very strong, and that has not changed tonight. I think his pocket presence is rather impressive. He stands in there despite defensive pressure and delivers the ball with accuracy and velocity.
*Not sure what Michael Smith's chances are of landing a job as a return man, but his 74-yard return a few minutes ago -- coupled with Parker's fumble earlier -- won't hurt. He helped set up a field goal that extended the Bucs' lead.
*It's been a great opportunity for quarterback Brett Ratliff here in the second half. He just engineered a 13-play, 50-yard drive that was capped by a 28-yard field goal by backup kicker Kai Forbath. Ratliff has gotten few meaningful reps in practices, but he got a chance to put some extensive work on film for the rest of the league to see. Why is that important? Because I have a suspicion the Bucs are going to keep just two quarterbacks on their final roster. Just a hunch.