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BACKUPS HIT FIELD FOR CHANCE TO SHINE

Next stop, the regular season.

For anyone dissatisfied with the performance of the Bucs' first-team offense during the preseason, the unit didn't get a chance to change opinions Friday night.

Just one offensive starter - FB B.J. Askew - saw the field in a game where avoiding injury was of chief concern. The regular season starts Sept. 13 against Dallas.

Among the offensive starters were C Rob Bruggeman, TE Jason Pociask and T Anthony Alabi.

On defense, the starting unit - minus S Jermaine Phillips - began the game but played precisely two snaps before the Texans' Anthony Hill fumbled and Bucs SS Sabby Piscitelli recovered. The defense was scheduled to play one series, which lasted one minute and two seconds.

NICKEL'S WORTH: The Bucs continued to test their "nickel rush" package, a personnel grouping that uses different defensive linemen in the team's nickel defense.

DE Kyle Moore, sliding over to defensive tackle as usual, used a bull rush to stampede G Kasey Studdard and sack Dan Orlovsky.

The idea of the nickel rush is to use the speediest linemen for likely passing situations.

TALIB UPDATE: CB Torrie Cox and injured LB Angelo Crowell were identified by Assistant State Attorney Richard Ripplinger as having been in the cab with CB Aqib Talib when he was arrested Aug. 19 and accused of simple battery and resisting arrest without violence.

Ripplinger said his office plans to meet with Cox and Crowell - who is on injured reserve with torn biceps - next week before deciding on whether to move forward in the case against Talib.

Talib was booked into the Pinellas County Jail early on Aug. 20 after the Florida Highway Patrol said he punched a cab driver in the neck and ear while riding from a St. Petersburg club to a Tampa hotel. Talib, 23, posted $300 bail that day and was released. Both charges are misdemeanors.

FULL BACKFIELD: FBs Askew and Jameel Cook got some rare touches. In a couple of instances, the two lined up together in the backfield, with Cook serving as a lead blocker for Askew, a former Michigan running back. Askew got eight carries, netting 1 yard. Cook caught a pass for an 8-yard gain.

WELCOME HOME: Two Texans with Florida connections had notable performances. Former Gators QB Rex Grossman threw for two touchdowns, including an 87-yarder to Jacoby Jones in the second quarter. On that play, it appeared S Tanard Jackson might have bit on play-action just enough to allow the speedy Jones to run free. Grossman's second TD was 11 yards to TE James Casey. Grossman is contending for the No. 3 QB job behind starter Matt Schaub and Orlovsky.

St. Petersburg native and USF alum Andre Hall scored on a 1-yard dive set up by an interception. Hall is considered a long shot to make the final roster today. He entered with just seven preseason carries for 16 yards.

FULTON HURT: Fifth-round pick Xavier Fulton hurt his knee in the second quarter and was taken to the locker room on a cart. If his injury is severe, that will deal another blow to the depth along the offensive line. Fulton has been playing tackle. The Bucs have had a great deal of turnover on the line this week, releasing G/CSean Mahan and acquiring two new interior linemen from the Raiders, Marcus Johnson and Jonathan Compas.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com

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