Live blog: Bucs trail Titans, LeGarrette Blount injured
Tonight's game between the Bucs and Titans 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 safety Mark Barron and tight end Dallas Clark are expected to make their Bucs debuts. We invite you to share your thoughts in the "Comments'' area below.
*We're underway at Raymond James Stadium, and the Bucs have their offense on the field for the opening possession.
But before we get started, there's some non-game related news. Left tackle Donald Penn has been activated from the Physically Unable to Perform List. That's very good news, meaning he can begin practicing right away.
*LeGarrette Blount gets the start again, carrying for 4 years on second and 10. That's two weeks in a row he gets the nod over Doug Martin, for whatever that's worth.
*To follow up, Vincent Jackson caught his first pass, an 8-yard pass that goes for a first down. But Josh Freeman was under duress way too much on that possession. Every throw came while defenders were nipping at his heels -- or, in some cases, running directly toward him. Not a great start.
*Bucs got a three-and-out on defense. Mark Barron gets his first tackle.
*Doug Martin enters the game on the second possession. Rips off a 9-yard run on his first touch. One heck of a cutback from left to right, breaking two tackles along the way. He runs with a lower center of gravity than I've seen in practice. It makes him extremely hard to tackle. Got stopped on a third-and-1 however.
*The Bucs were forced to punt again, but they get the ball right back when Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker throws an ill-advised pass into double coverage and is intercepted by Ahmad Black. The ball was returned to the Tennessee 2. Mike Williams catches a fade from Freeman for a touchdown.
*Mike Williams made a great play there. He was being held by the defender on the play, but he established great position. The result is that Freeman threw what has to be one of the easier touchdowns he's thrown. They looked like two guys who had, you know, chemistry.
*Bucs are letting their first defense get into a rhythm. They remained in the game for a third series and forced another stop with a three-and-out. Mark Barron had a great play in coverage on third down to force the punt. That's something we haven't seen a lot of during practice, and it's one of the questions about his transition to the NFL. But so far, so good for the seventh overall draft choice.
*It has been a pretty poor performance by the offensive line so far. On this series alone, we have more pressure on Freeman, with the interior of the line failing to pick up a stunt on first down. On second down, Jeremy Zuttah is called for holding and negates a stunning 16-yard gain by Martin. Then, on the replay of second down, Demar Dotson gets beat and his man hits Freeman as he's throwing. Bucs punt.
*The defense had held up so well until that last possession. They allow the Titans to march 71 yards, a drive capped by Chris Johnson's impressive 14-yard run. My concerns on that drive would be a lack of sure-handed tackling and defenders not reacting quickly enough in certain situations. They got gashed by the run on that possession, and that's something that's happened all too often in Tampa Bay.
*Josh Freeman is done for the night. I imagine he's fine with it, too. He took too many hits tonight. He finished 4 for 10 for 21 yards. Not good, but not all his fault.
*The Bucs turn it over deep in their own territory when Dan Orlovsky gets blasted from a defender he never saw, and fumbles. But the Bucs defense holds up and forces a field goal.
*The lineup is a mixed group now as the offense takes the field. Jeremy Zuttah remains at center and Dotson is at left tackle. Blount is in at running back.
*Orlovsky had another disaster of a possession, with a pass intended for tight end Drake Dunsmore mishandled and caught by the defense off a deflection. The Titans scored two plays later on a run by Johnson. After that play, Schiano corralled his defensive backs and gave them a pretty long talking to. He specifically cornered Ahmad Black and Myron Lewis, who were lined up on the side of the field that Johnson ran on.
*The Titans add to their lead with a 48-yard field goal.
*The biggest news in this game might be not how anyone played, but what becomes of Blount. He took a shot to his left knee area during a tackle moments ago and appears to have suffered an injury of some kind. It's unclear how serious it is, but Blount stayed on the turf for quite a while before walking off with a serious limp. He's left the field with the medical staff, perhaps for an X-ray.
*That's a wrap for the first half.
*Wish I could say the play of the backup offensive line was better than that of the starters, but that's just not the case. Even the second unit has struggled tonight, as Orlovsky continues to have to sidestep defenders when standing in the pocket. It's a disconcerting situation because injuries will derail a strength of the team if some of these backups end up having to play.
*This defense is showing some shades of 2011 tonight. Though we're well into the second- and third-team players here, there are just too many runs for long gains, missed tackles and bad angles. I don't see much toughness and certainly not a lot of discipline. This unit is managing to get off the field on this particular possession though, with the Titans' drive stalling at the Bucs' 5-yard line. Rob Bironas kicks a short field goal from there.
*Dan Orlovsky is done for the night. He finishes 1 for 5 for 6 yards. Yes, you read that right. Brett Ratliff is in the game now. Orlovsky played great last week at Miami, taking advantage of solid line protection to go 8 of 8.