Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs vs. Browns: What to watch Friday night

TAMPA — The Bucs play their first preseason home game of the season tonight against the Browns, unveiling huge new video boards at the heart of the renovations to Raymond James Stadium. • The end zone boards are four times as big as the old ones, with four "tower" video boards and a 6-foot tall ribbon going from end to end on both sides of the stadium. • Just in case you're also interested in what's happening on the field, here are five things to keep an eye on tonight.

1. The ongoing saga of Roberto Aguayo. The rookie kicker has had a rough two weeks, missing an extra point in the preseason opener, then two field goals last week at Jacksonville, so all eyes will be on the second-round pick out of Florida State. Aguayo's the only kicker on the Bucs' roster, so there's no way to hide him — he will be involved on kickoffs, at the very least. There's a little extra motivation as Patrick Murray, cut by the Bucs after Aguayo was drafted, is battling to become the Browns' kicker on the other sideline.

2. A chance for the Bucs defense to step up. Not only is the team ranked second in the league in total defense during preseason, allowing just 198 yards per game, but its five interceptions rank second in the league, behind only the Eagles (7).

What's more, the Browns have been rough on offense, ranking 30th in yards (207.5), 30th in third-down conversions (18.8 percent) and 28th in scoring (12.0). If you like seeing the Bucs offense on the field, you'll be happy to know the Browns rank last in the NFL in time of possession, at just 20:09, nearly doubled by their opponents.

3. A chance for improved passing by Bucs QBs. Their five interceptions (though only one by starter Jameis Winston, above) match the most in the league during preseason, and the Browns had plenty of picks in two joint practices this week. But Cleveland has been porous in its first two preseason games, allowing a league-worst 407 yards per game, literally twice what the Bucs have allowed.

Last week, the Falcons piled up 498 yards of offense, converting 11 third downs, and the Packers converted nine third downs in beating the Browns the week before.

4. Tall receivers to challenge those Bucs DBs. Much has been made of the Bucs' top three corners — Brent Grimes, Alterraun Verner and rookie Vernon Hargreaves — all being 5 feet 10. Coach Dirk Koetter says they're not going to grow, and the Browns will give them a good preview of the many tall receivers they'll face this season.

Keep an eye on newly reinstated WR Josh Gordon, who is 6-3, and converted Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is 6-4 — they'll present challenges to the secondary, much like Atlanta's Julio Jones will in the season opener in two more weeks.

5. Two guys from Ohio trying to make the Bucs' cut. In Donteea Dye and Jude Adjei-Barimah, the team have two players who made it on the field as undrafted rookies last season.

Both are from Ohio, but neither grew up Browns fans — Dye has a tattoo of "Cincinnati" across his chest with the Bengals and Reds logos, while Adjei-Barimah, who is from Columbus, grew up liking neither the Bengals or Browns.

"For some reason, I was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and everybody hated me for it," Adjei-Barimah said. "There's that big Cleveland-Pittsburgh rivalry. I'm from Ohio, so I realize how much the Browns and Bengals mean to the state. So I always kind of rooted for them against other teams. When that AFC North rivalry started, I was all Steelers."

Adjei-Barimah has worked at nickel and corner and is in good position to stick as the team's fourth cornerback, while Dye is trying to keep the kickoff return job, which will help him make the squad as a backup receiver.

Bucs vs. Browns: What to watch Friday night 08/25/16 [Last modified: Thursday, August 25, 2016 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support


    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)