TAMPA — Bucs receivers are a little heavy-footed without Joey Galloway, but one player isn't showing signs of slowing.
Dexter Jackson, a second-round pick this year from Appalachian State, is getting up to speed in the playbook and could see a lot more action at wideout tonight against the Patriots.
Drafted primarily as a kick returner, Jackson could see his role grow quickly the longer Galloway sits out with a groin injury. He caught his first pass in the preseason opener at Miami — an 11-yarder — but is hungry for more.
"It feels real good. I told the guys I feel a lot more ready to play with the way we've practiced, playing up-tempo," the 5-foot-9 Jackson said. "Now that I'm learning more of the offense, it's been a lot of fun just to go out there and play."
Despite his lofty draft status, Jackson never caught more than 33 passes in a season in college. And comparisons are inevitable with DeSean Jackson, the Eagles' 5-10 second-round pick from Cal whose 12 catches for 122 yards rank first and third, respectively, in the NFL.
The Bucs' D-Jax isn't nearly as polished as a receiver but can become the big-play threat the Bucs need to develop.
"The big thing for the first game was to get a lot of the guys who put in work some playing time," Jackson said. "If you make mistakes during practice, you're going to have limited reps. So (tonight), I'm going to have a bigger role, I assume. And when I get in, just make the best of it."
Brian's song: Coach Jon Gruden has been singing the praises of quarterback Brian Griese, who will start tonight. If he performs the way he did against the Dolphins (10-of-14 for 59 yards and a touchdown), Griese could have the edge over Luke McCown for the No. 2 spot.
McCown has the best arm and most athletic ability of any quarterback on the roster. But he has had a few mental meltdowns that give Gruden cause for pause. Griese thrived in the Bucs' system before, and Gruden trusts him more. Especially early in the season, Griese might get the call from the bullpen.
Talib gives D options: Rookie Aqib Talib has already secured the nickel cornerback spot with his rangy coverage skills and open-field tackling ability. He will even press starter Phillip Buchanon for playing time.
But what Talib brings to the defense is options for Monte Kiffin.
The defensive coordinator can really mix up coverage and be more aggressive on third down.
"We're still evaluating the whole thing," Kiffin said. "We always adapt to our personnel, whether it be a Warren Sapp or John Lynch, whoever it is. What it is right now, I couldn't tell you for sure what we're going to do.
"You've got to evaluate players. We might even call some schemes just to see how we hold up. It's still the second game. You're getting ready for the season. These games are tough. You want to win, but you don't want to show everything, too."