Tonight: Stephen Holder blogs from Bucs-Patriots
Tonight's game between the Bucs and Patriots is blacked out, so join Times beat reporter Stephen F. Holder at 7:30 p.m. as he blogs live from Raymond James Stadium. Stephen will share his thoughts and observations throughout the game, in which Donald Penn is expected to make his first appearance of the preseason. We invite you to share your thoughts in the "Comments'' area below.
7:30 p.m.: Welcome to tonight's live blog. I'm live from Raymond James Stadium where the Bucs are about to exit the tunnel and prepare for kickoff.
Before we start, some news. The Bucs will start Doug Martin at running back tonight, in what appears to be a change in the starting lineup and not a result of LeGarrette Blount's groin injury.
Martin has been electric in his two appearances so far, and apparently will get a chance to continue that.
Also, the Bucs will be without middle linebacker Mason Foster, who is resting tonight because of a hamstring injury.
*The first big play between Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson comes on a deep out down the right sideline on the second play from scrimmage. Jackson gained 25 yards.
*The Bucs have already put the ball in the end zone with a 1-yard touchdown run by Martin. That capped an 8-play, 67-yard drive. Jackson ended it with three catches for 49 yards -- the deep out I mentioned earlier and two comeback routes near the hash marks. Impressive stuff.
*The offensive line is off to a much more impressive start after last week's debacle. Freeman had a clean pocket on each of his throws, and Martin had some running lanes to work with.
*The Bucs got a three-and-out on their first defensive possession, but it came at a cost. Gerald McCoy took a cut block on his left knee and remained down on the turf for quite a while. He's up now and looks better after the trainers examined him. I'll continue to update that situation when I know more.
*The Bucs had to punt on offense, but their defense is stealing the show. Another horrible possession for the Patriots, with Tom Brady getting decked by end Michael Bennett and, then, getting picked off by Mark Barron, who returned the pick for a 22-yard touchdown. Ronde Barber made it possible, tipping the pass intended for Rob Gronkowski.
*Another injury to watch: Adrian Clayborn came off the field holding his forearm and has gone to the locker room to be check out. Seemed as though he got his arm jammed between two Patriots players. Seemed to be in some considerable pain.
*The Bucs were about to get off the field on defense, but Ronde Barber, who lost a step against Aaron Hernandez when he pulled off an inside move, was called for interference. Looked like he grabbed his jersey. These Partiots tight ends are going to be a handful for the Bucs. Good preparation for the NFC South with Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez.
*The Patriots are on the scoreboard after Stevan Ridley capped a 12-play, 81-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Crisp, efficient drive by Brady and the Pats.
*Two players who have played some key snaps early in this game are tight end Luke Stocker and defensive tackle Gary Gibson. We've seen very little of both players so far this preseason because of injuries, but maybe things are looking up. Watching Gibson, in particular, has been a frustrating situation. He's an important part of the defensive line depth and the Bucs needs him -- especially in light of the fact that Amobi Okoye's knee appears to be a bigger problem than we realized.
*A nice defensive stop for the Bucs, who stuffed the Patriots on a fourth-and-1 from the New England 41. Bucs ball.
*So, remember when I told you Demar Dotson would get some time at right tackle? Well, he is. And, like Trueblood, he false started. Carry on.
*Bucs drive stalls after the penalty, but they add a field goal and extend their lead.
*By the way, Clayborn is back on the sideline after that apparent arm injury. He doesn't look to be dealing with a serious injury, but it looks like he's done for night.
*So, here's what we know about Bill Sheridan's and Greg Schiano's defense: They're going to blitz quite a bit. Tonight they've not been shy about it, and it just resulted in another big hit on Brady. This time, it was Lavonte David who blammoed the future Hall of Famer. People in these parts aren't used to blitzing linebackers, something the Bucs haven't done much since prior to Tony Dungy's days. But it's here in a big way, it would appear.
*I'm a little befuddled by Freeman's performance tonight. He started off sizzling, hitting 5 of his his first 6 attempts, the lone incomplete pass being a drop by Vincent Jackson. Since then, he's 1 for 6, and he's been wildly inaccurate. Quite honestly, I do not know what to make of it. But it's not a positive development.
*This is gonna hurt: Davin Joseph has been carted off the field with what looks like a possibly serious knee injury. I've seen my share of torn ligaments, and they looked a lot like what just happened to Joseph. Here's what happened: Looks like Donald Penn lost his man on an inside move, so he attempted to recover by shoving him to the ground. The problem is, when he did so, he pushed the man right into the back and side of Joseph's planted leg. The rest is history. No official report yet, but it didn't look good.
*Kai Forbath connects from 51 yards at the buzzer to extend the Bucs' halftime lead.
*In spite of all the injuries, the Bucs have elected to go with mostly starters to bein the third quarter. That includes quarterback Josh Freeman on offense.
*Here's something you won't see too often: Three consecutive plays with offensive line penalties. First Donald Penn was called for holding. Then, on two consecutive plays, Ted Larsen -- who replaced Joseph -- was called for false starts. Yes, two in a row. Needless to say, the Bucs were forced to punt.
*For those who want an update on Davin Joseph, I just posted one. Here's a hint... It's not good news. He could be out for the season.
*That last Patriots drive didn't come against the starting Bucs defense, but it did end with a touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski.
*Just seven carries tonight for Blount versus 13 for Martin. Wondering if that's how things will break down in the regular season. I suspect it just might. Seems both are done now. Michael Smith is front and center. That ratio for Martin and Blount is almost 2 to 1, by the way.
*Jeff Demps got in the game for the Patriots -- he picked them over the Bucs as a free agent last week -- and ripped off a 29-yard run. Now I know what speed looks like. Wow.