Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' second-tier offense struggles in rainy preseason finale

TAMPA — On a night the Bucs had hoped to evaluate their options for backup receivers, their offense struggled mightily under steady rain, barely able to complete a first-half pass.

Midway through the second quarter Wednesday against Washington, the Bucs had negative yards in offense. Starting QB Mike Glennon went 1-for-5, his only completion a 1-yard loss to TE Brandon Myers. Ryan Griffin replaced him and had his first pass tipped and intercepted.

The wet weather made for slippery, sloppy football. Glennon had the ball slip out of his hands before one throw, and he fell on the loose ball for a 15-yard loss. Peyton Barber lost a fumble that backup C Ben Gottschalk fell on to avoid a turnover.

Punt returner Bernard Reedy had a muff and a fumble on the same play, though officials ruled his forward progress had been stopped after initially signaling a Washington touchdown.

The Bucs' only first down in their first four drives came on a Washington penalty, so a hearty cheer rose from the sparse crowd when Griffin connected with WR Kenny Bell for 13 yards and a first down in the second quarter.

Even when the Bucs got to midfield with 35 seconds left in the half, Griffin had the ball slip out of his hands as he tried to pass, and he fell on the loose ball to end the half.

NICE TOUCH: Between kickoff being moved up 24 hours and steady rain, attendance was understandably meager. The Bucs allowed fans with seats in the upper deck to move down to empty seats in the lower levels. The rain was steady enough that the 25 Bucs players who were held out of the game — including 21 of 22 starters on offense and defense — weren't on the sideline watching.

HUMBLING: Bucs CB Johnthan Banks, far removed from his days as starter, played extensively on defense and was on the field for the opening kickoff. He did have an important pass breakup as Washington went for it on fourth down in Bucs territory late in the first half. Banks and Josh Robinson are competing for the fifth, and likely final, cornerback spot on the roster.

THIS AND THAT: Bell, who had one catch for 13 yards, left the game in the second half and was diagnosed with a concussion. … Rookie S Ryan Smith left the game with a hand injury but returned. He led the Bucs with six tackles after three quarters. … P Bryan Anger had a busy first half, with six punts and a 49.7-yard average. … With the Bucs' top three running backs not dressed, two rookies had an opportunity to make a case for at least a practice-squad job: Barber had seven carries for 10 yards in the first half, and Russell Hansbrough had three carries for 1 yard.

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