Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gerald McCoy and No. 1 defense shine

TAMPA — The first-team defense stayed only five plays into the second quarter, but Gerald McCoy continued his dominant play, getting a sack and forced fumble to set up a touchdown Saturday night.

McCoy had three tackles — two for losses —- and a quarterback hurry in his limited action, but came up with the first splash play of the preseason. He got to QB Ryan Tannehill and forced a fumble that DE Michael Johnson recovered at the Miami 25.

"Our job is to get the ball out. That's what Coach (Lovie Smith) has been preaching, so that's what happened," McCoy said. "It makes it so much easier on the offense. You put them on a short field. The offense and defense are supposed to complement each other. … We're just trying to work together."

The short field set up a touchdown from Josh McCown to WR Vincent Jackson for the Bucs' first lead of the preseason. McCoy also dropped RB Damien Williams for a 5-yard loss, giving him three tackles for loss in two games. In seven possessions, the No. 1 defense has allowed just three points this preseason — Miami got a field goal in the first quarter of Saturday's game.

INJURIES PILE UP: Several Bucs left the game with injuries — the most serious looked to be backup LB Brandon Magee, who had to be carted off the field at the half after injuring his right ankle.

Starting CB Rashaan Melvin (ankle), DE Will Gholston (shoulder) and S Major Wright (back) all left, though the severity was unknown. RB Mike James also left with a shoulder injury.

Gholston had his right arm immobilized under a jacket in the locker room after the game, while Magee had his right foot in a boot. Melvin said he aggravated his ankle on the opening drive but was optimistic he could play next weekend; Wright said he was "okay" after the game.

IMPROVED PLAY: After struggling in the opener, the starting offensive line showed improvement, giving McCown more time with Patrick Omameh inserted into the lineup at right guard.

McCown was officially sacked for no gain on a third-down play, but the line helped starting RB Doug Martin rush for 24 yards on his six carries.

"We definitely played better," left guard Oniel Cousins said. "I feel like we took that step. The communication was on point. It's never going to be perfect, but we'll continue to work to get better."

The second-string line wasn't as fortunate. Veteran lineman Jamon Meredith, demoted from first-string guard to second-string left tackle last week, drew a false-start penalty in the second quarter. The line gave up a sack and fumble by Mike Glennon, with rookie guard Kadeem Edwards flagged on the play.

The Bucs gave up five sacks on the night —- two each for backup Glennon and Mike Kafka.

THIS AND THAT: With rookie RB Charles Sims out three months after ankle surgery, the Bucs relied on Martin and Bobby Rainey in the first half. Mike James took over in the third quarter, but fumbled (C Jason Foster recovered for the Bucs) and was sidelined with a shoulder injury on the same possession. … Former Chargers first-round pick Larry English, signed last week, saw action off the bench at defensive end in the second quarter. ... Solomon Patton, the undrafted rookie from Florida, showed a spark on returns, averaging 30.3 yards on three kickoffs and 10.7 yards on three punt returns.

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