TAMPA — Bucs coach Greg Schiano knows Brian Leonard from their time at Rutgers and believed he'd bring versatility and athleticism to the backfield. And Leonard, 29, competing for a backup running back/fullback spot, showed both during Thursday's 44-16 loss to the Ravens in the preseason opener.
"The more you can do in this league, the longer you're going to be in the league," Leonard said. "I played a little fullback, played all the special teams and, obviously, played running back, too. The more versatile you are, the longer you'll be here."
Leonard, at 6 feet 1, 225 pounds, did it all during a first-quarter drive that ended with a field goal. The sixth-year pro made a 2-yard catch over the middle then picked up a blitz that allowed QB Josh Freeman to hit WR Kevin Ogletree for 14 yards.
Leonard kept the drive alive on third and 1 from the Ravens 20. Stuffed on a run, he spun off and fell forward for 2 yards. In the second quarter, Leonard was rewarded, scoring on a 3-yard run up the middle. He finished with 23 yards on six carries and the one catch.
Leonard's chief competitors are Peyton Hillis and sixth-round pick Mike James. James rushed six times for 15 yards. Hillis had 13 yards, fumbling on his fourth carry when he hurt his left knee. His status was not determined.
LEG UP: With veteran K Lawrence Tynes (toe) not playing, Derek Dimke got a chance to take an early lead in their competition. Dimke delivered, making field goals of 29, 35 and 45 yards.
"They weren't exactly easy kicks," Dimke said. "But they went in."
Dimke, who went undrafted out of Illinois in 2012, also made an open-field tackle on Bobby Rainey near midfield, thwarting a potential touchdown. Dimke, however, did get called for a horse-collar tackle on the play.
"I had a couple tackles in college, so it was all right," Dimke said.
Long night: DE Da'Quan Bowers, the 2011 second-round pick making the transition from situational pass-rusher to every-down player, was in for the entire first half, recording two tackles.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "I felt like I needed (to play the whole half) to overall better myself."
SHORT NIGHT: Bucs CB Danny Gorrer, starting for Darrelle Revis, had a good but short night. Gorrer intercepted Joe Flacco to end Baltimore's first drive. Later in the first quarter, he hurt his groin breaking up a pass. He said it isn't serious and hopes to play against the Patriots.
UH-OH: WR Chris Owusu, impressive during training camp, fumbled a punt return during the second quarter, the Ravens recovering. Owusu was targeted seven times, making two catches for 48 yards, before leaving near the end of the third quarter with an ankle injury. His status hasn't been determined.
NIGHT OFF: As expected, Revis, G Davin Joseph and G Carl Nicks did not play. DE Adrian Clayborn, hampered by a groin injury, and TE Luke Stocker, who recently returned from a calf strain, also sat as did: DT Derek Landri, DT Gary Gibson, DE Aaron Morgan, FB Erik Lorig, S Sean Baker, LB Jacob Cutrera and WR David Douglas.
LEWIS GONE: The Bucs released CB Myron Lewis, a third-round pick in 2010, as well as LB Marvin Booker. CB Mason Robinson was signed. Lewis had 17 tackles and four passes defensed in 29 games (one start). Robinson, who played at Rutgers, spent time with the Bucs earlier in training camp.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]