Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

5 things to watch in Bucs-Patriots game

Because he has practiced on a limited basis, Carl Nicks, right, hasn't played extensively at full speed.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Because he has practiced on a limited basis, Carl Nicks, right, hasn't played extensively at full speed.

Carl Nicks' debut

The 6-foot-5, 349-pound left guard signed a $47 million contract in 2012, but a toe injury ended his season after just seven games.

Friday, Nicks returns, and we'll begin to get an idea if he can return to his All-Pro level of 2011 despite the pain he says he must play through.

Another issue for Nicks is conditioning. Because he has practiced on a limited basis, he hasn't played extensively at full speed.

"You have to be healthy to be in shape," he said. "So that's a struggle I'm kind of dealing with now. But in time, I think … my stamina will get better."

The Bucs won't have their entire offensive line back, however. Starting right guard Davin Joseph, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, isn't expected to play.

Ogletree pulling away

The company line when training camp began was to expect a battle between Kevin Ogletree and Tiquan Underwood for No. 3 receiver. The truth is, it hasn't materialized.

Ogletree had a strong start to the preseason last week against the Ravens, catching five passes for 65 yards. Underwood, meanwhile, had one catch for 6 yards. Ogletree, like Underwood, is one of the team's fastest players. But Ogletree has shown more consistency and better hands.

Special teams

The lopsided 44-16 score last week could be attributed, in part, to wretched special teams. It included a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown, 58-yard kickoff return on which kicker Derek Dimke made a touchdown-saving tackle that led to a field goal and a muffed punt by Chris Owusu that led to a touchdown.

With veteran kicker Lawrence Tynes still nursing a toe injury, Dimke has another chance to be a bright spot. Last week, he converted kicks from 29, 35 and 45 yards.

Backup running backs

Doug Martin is the starter, but there's little certainty behind him.

Against Baltimore, veteran Brian Leonard rushed for 23 yards on six carries, including a 13-yarder, and showed a willingness and adeptness for pass blocking.

Coaches long have shown a liking for rookie Mike James. But he had just 15 yards on six carries. Michael Smith and Peyton Hillis are still looking to get going despite limited work during practices.

"We're going to need these games to judge a running back," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "(A back) needs to go live. How does he handle the tackling? We don't tackle in practice. Assignment-wise, it's a check. Blocking-wise, check. But they are called running backs because they run with the ball. We need to see how they do live when people are trying to tackle them."

Casillas surging

It has been overshadowed, but there still seems to be a legitimate battle at strongside linebacker between Dekoda Watson and Jonathan Casillas.

Casillas has increasingly performed well during practice, perhaps, because he is growing more comfortable in the system after coming over from the Bears. Friday, he can force coaches to take an even longer look at him.

5 things to watch in Bucs-Patriots game 08/15/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 15, 2013 6:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”