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Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense improves after slow start

Bucs linebacker Quincy Black sacks Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel during the second quarter for a 10-yard loss on third and 2.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs linebacker Quincy Black sacks Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel during the second quarter for a 10-yard loss on third and 2.

TAMPA — The Bucs' defense had a roller-coaster night Saturday against the Chiefs.

It had rough moments in the first quarter, including an eight-play Chiefs drive (sparked by starting field position on the Bucs' 47-yard line) that ended with Jeremy Horne's 6-yard touchdown catch. Also, the Chiefs were able to run the ball early and controlled possession for nearly 10 of the first 18 minutes.

But the defense bounced back and settled in, including getting a solid performance from the second unit. It forced the Chiefs to end a lengthy second-quarter drive with just a field goal.

"I think we came out and played fast but had a couple of missed assignments that led to (Kansas City) scoring," S Tanard Jackson said. "I think we rebounded well."

Tampa Bay had some big plays, including a fumble recovery by LB Geno Hayes (forced by DL Kyle Moore) to end the Chiefs' first possession. LB Quincy Black picked up a sack in the second quarter, dropping QB Matt Cassel to force a punt by rushing up the middle on a blitz.

The Bucs also finally got to see first-round draft pick DT Gerald McCoy and second-round pick DT Brian Price line up alongside each other. Price, who missed the first preseason game against the Dolphins due to a hamstring injury, entered in the second quarter.

McCoy had a nice night, including stuffing Cassel for a 1-yard gain early in the second quarter to force a punt as Moore, who also played well, sealed off the pocket.

BACK IT UP? RB Derrick Ward, who had a disappointing game against Miami (20 yards on 12 carries with two fumbles), guaranteed he'd have a "great game" against the Chiefs.

It turned out to be anything. Ward rushed for 11 yards on five carries and left in the third quarter with a head injury. His status had not been determined.

RB Kareem Huggins continued to impress. The Bucs wanted to get a better look at him by getting him some reps with the first-team offense. And Huggins responded with 44 yards on eight carries. Huggins, a second-year pro who went undrafted out of Hofstra, rushed for 55 yards on eight carries against Miami.

MEDICAL MATTERS: WR Maurice Stovall (ankle) sitting out was expected. But the absences of KR Clifton Smith and T Demar Dotson were surprising.

Smith has a hamstring injury but practiced during the week. Dotson's injury was unclear.

TE Kellen Winslow, recovering from offseason knee surgery, warmed up before the game but did not suit up.

LOCAL Guys: Saturday marked a homecoming of sorts for Chiefs KR Javier Arenas (Tampa's Robinson High) and RB/WR Dexter McCluster (Largo High).

Arenas had a 54-yard kickoff return to the Bucs' 47 to help set up a touchdown. He also returned one punt for 1 yard. McCluster lost a yard on his only carry and caught one pass for 17 yards.

MISCELLANY: DE Michael Bennett lined up at defensive tackle during the second quarter. … CB E.J. Biggers was the first defensive back to appear at nickel corner, ahead of CB Elbert Mack, with whom he is competing. … LB Adam Hayward got some snaps at fullback in some non-short-yardage situations during the third quarter.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

fast facts

Remaining preseason games

Aug. 28: Jags, 7:30, Ch. 8 *

Sept. 2: at Texans, 8, Ch. 8

* Subject to blackout

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense improves after slow start 08/21/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 28, 2010 6:10pm]
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