Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to watch against Washington Redskins

Most fans won't recognize many of the players who suit up for the Bucs tonight against the Redskins in the teams' preseason finale. • But don't assume there isn't real significance to what plays out at FedEx Field. • With many starters and other key players sidelined by design tonight, most of those in the game will fight for spots as the Bucs prepare to trim their roster from 75 to 53 on Friday. • "There's going to be a lot of tough decisions to make, and we'll make them and not look back," coach Greg Schiano said. • For those fringe players, this otherwise meaningless game means everything. Here are five, in particular, to watch.

Kai Forbath

Who? You might not know the name, but this backup kicker made quite the statement in last week's preseason win against the Patriots, booting 51- and 55-yard field goals. It's almost certain that he'll miss the final cut — Connor Barth just signed a contract extension worth more than $13 million — but there's so much movement among kickers around the league that Forbath could get onto other teams' radar with another strong game. "There's only 32 jobs," Forbath said. "So, a lot of it is timing and being in the right place at the right time. I just hope this is the year where I show what I can do and get a chance." Forbath had hoped that would happen last season, but a quadriceps injury sidelined him all year in Dallas and the Cowboys waived him in April. The Bucs claimed him off waivers when Barth was holding out for his deal.

Brett Ratliff

The Bucs won't necessarily keep three quarterbacks, perhaps opting to go with two as they did last season. If there is a third, Ratliff wants it to be him. The job of the No. 3 quarterback in the preseason is difficult. By the time he gets into the game, it's often in a situation that doesn't lend itself to him looking good. But Ratliff should play early and often tonight with starter Josh Freeman unlikely to dress. "I'm really excited," Ratliff said. "It's a great opportunity to run some extended gameplan (elements). In the past few games, when I get in, it's always at the end of the game in a four-minute offense situation or we've been down a lot so we're just running the ball. I'm excited to get this opportunity to do what I love to do." Ratliff played extensively in the opener, but he attempted just two passes against the Titans and didn't play against the Patriots.

Cody Grimm

He continues to be listed as the third-team strong safety on the depth chart despite his 12 starts in the past two seasons. Will his experience be enough to land a roster spot? That's far from guaranteed considering Grimm has underperformed in the preseason. He's a high-effort player and a willing tackler, but he has been surpassed by Ahmad Black and, lately, Larry Asante. Anything Grimm can do tonight to get an edge and make coaches' decision tougher will help. One unknown here is the Bucs' final number of safeties. If they keep five, Grimm's odds improve substantially.

Jordan Shipley

How do you evaluate a receiver at final cuts who has been on the roster just more than a week? That's what the Bucs will do with Shipley, who has talent but might not be a safe bet depending on the stability of his surgically-repaired left knee. Shipley was waived by the Bengals last week despite the investment they made in him, drafting him in the third round in 2010. What do the Bucs think? "What is it, a week we've had him?" Schiano said. "We'll have a week of evaluation and go off what we have and what he's done in this league pre-surgery, post-surgery, the whole deal. But Jordan's been a fun guy to coach. He's grasped what we're doing pretty well in the short time he's been here." Look for Shipley to return punts again. That job hasn't been locked up by anyone.

Mossis Madu

The depth chart says Madu is ahead of rookie Michael Smith at running back, but Smith's performance strongly suggests that will change. If that occurs, Madu is squarely on the bubble at a position where the team might keep just three (not including fullbacks). Madu has ability, but the Bucs have a lot of that at running back. Complicating things, Madu is not practice squad eligible after spending nine weeks on the active roster last season (veterans with nine or more weeks on an active roster are ineligible). For Madu, it's the active roster or nothing.

   
Comments
Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Brentson Buckner didn't need to bring his resume when he interviewed for the Bucs' job as defensive line coach. No references were needed, either.All the Bucs had to do was ask quarterback Jameis Winston whether the Arizona Cardinals defensive line w...
Updated: 9 hours ago
On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

Defensive end Noah Spence, whose two NFL seasons have both been limited by injuries to his right shoulder, is getting himself healthy for the 2018 season.Spence has kept a low profile since the Bucs placed him on injured reserve in late October, a mo...
Published: 02/19/18
Video: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gives advice to Little Leaguers

Video: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gives advice to Little Leaguers

Ryan Fitzpatrick is an unrestricted free agent, and his future with the Bucs remains uncertain. But the veteran quarterback is still very much here in Tampa and still sharing his wisdom with younger athletes.In this case, they're much younger —...
Published: 02/19/18
Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

TAMPA – Jameis Winston is heading for a big payday with the Bucs. He's played well enough to make that an easy decision.But what impact will that have on the type of players they surround him with?The Bucs are expected to exercise the fifth-yea...
Published: 02/16/18
Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

The Bucs continue to move quickly with the defensive line opening on Dirk Koetter's coaching staff, interviewing former Cardinals assistant Brentson Buckner.Buckner, 46, spent the last five years as Arizona's defensive line coach, leading the unit to...
Published: 02/16/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

It’s a Mailbag Friday as Rick Stroud answers your questions, including what will happen with the Jameis Winston investigation, who should the Bucs sign in free agency and would Warren Sapp make a good defensive line coach?Also, who will win more game...
Published: 02/16/18
Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Free agency is less than a month away, and the Bucs have several decisions to make about unrestricted free agents from their 2017 squad. One is Kevin Pamphile, who started all but one game at left guard last season but still split the job with backup...
Published: 02/16/18
Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston's pregame "Eat a 'W'" speech didn't go over too well the last time he gave it in front of the cameras and teammates.Before the Bucs-Saints game in New Orleans on Nov. 5, Winston formed a "W" with the fingers on his right hand and proce...
Published: 02/15/18
Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

No sooner had the Bucs 5-11 season ended than coach Dirk Koetter identified the two areas his team needed to improve for 2018."I think we were 3-7 in one score games. You're going to have a hard time getting where you want to go when you win 30 perce...
Published: 02/15/18
Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

NFL free agency is now just a month away, and as we begin the process of previewing the 2018 free agent class, we'll start with a less prominent part that is still relevant for the Bucs this year: restricted free agents.Unrestricted free agents have ...
Published: 02/14/18