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Assessing which Bucs helped, or hurt, their case for a roster spot Saturday night

Former USF standout Deadrin Senat mostly shined in his quest to make the team.
Titans running back Hassan Haskins (25) is tackled by Bucs nose tackle Deadrin Senat (95) and linebacker Elijah Ponder (44) during Tennessee's 13-3 win Saturday in Nashville. A former USF standout, Senat is trying to make the team after being waived by the Falcons last November.
Titans running back Hassan Haskins (25) is tackled by Bucs nose tackle Deadrin Senat (95) and linebacker Elijah Ponder (44) during Tennessee's 13-3 win Saturday in Nashville. A former USF standout, Senat is trying to make the team after being waived by the Falcons last November. [ WADE PAYNE | AP ]
Published Aug. 21

Three weeks and nearly three-dozen roster cuts remain before things get real for the Bucs the night of Sept. 11 in Dallas.

Hence the reason Saturday’s dress rehearsal against the Titans held such significance for those trying to make it to that clash with the Cowboys. Each NFL roster must be trimmed by five more players — from 85 to 80 — by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

So who on the roster bubble helped their cause in Saturday night’s 13-3 loss in Nashville? Who didn’t? Here’s our take, based on what we observed.

Helped themselves

Bucs undrafted rookie linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi (53) had a team-best nine tackles in Saturday's 13-3 loss to the Titans in Nashville.
Bucs undrafted rookie linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi (53) had a team-best nine tackles in Saturday's 13-3 loss to the Titans in Nashville. [ JOHN AMIS | AP ]

ILB Olakunle Fatukasi

Afforded more preseason reps due to Grant Stuard’s injury, this rookie from Rutgers has been the team’s leading tackler (15) this preseason. On Saturday, he had nine tackles and 1½ sacks, including one of rookie quarterback Malik Willis on the Titans’ second possession. He just missed another with a near-shoestring tackle as Willis scrambled near the sideline.

“(Fatukasi) is flying around,” second-year edge rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka said. ”He’s a rookie flying around, making a lot of plays.”

NT Deadrin Senat

This former USF standout made his best case yet for the No. 3 nose tackle job behind Vita Vea and Rakeem Nunez-Roches. Waived by the Falcons last November, Senat finished with five tackles, teaming with Patrick O’Connor for a sack of Willis in the first quarter.

WR Deven Thompkins

On a grim night for the passing attack (118 yards), the roster’s smallest player (5-foot-8, 155 pounds) distinguished himself. An undrafted rookie from Utah State, Thompkins had both his catches on the second half’s opening drive, including a 34-yarder from Kyle Trask.

“He’s so athletic, so he’s got a big catch radius for a short guy,” former Bucs coach Bruce Arians said on the WFLA Channel 8 broadcast. “He’s got a catch radius of somebody who’s maybe 6-feet tall.”

Hindered themselves

After returning the opening kickoff out of the end zone to his own 25, Bucs second-year receiver Jaelon Darden picked up no yardage — either as a receiver or returner — in Saturday's 13-3 loss to the Titans.
After returning the opening kickoff out of the end zone to his own 25, Bucs second-year receiver Jaelon Darden picked up no yardage — either as a receiver or returner — in Saturday's 13-3 loss to the Titans. [ MARK ZALESKI | AP ]

WR Jaelon Darden

While this second-year speedster — by many accounts — has shined in training camp, he still must stand out on special teams to emerge from the logjam on the receiver depth chart. On Saturday, he didn’t. Darden mustered nothing on one punt return fielded at his 9-yard line and returned one kick out of the end zone to the Bucs 25. He also didn’t have a catch.

WR Kaylon Geiger

After a promising preseason opener (four catches, 52 yards), this undrafted rookie from Texas Tech had only two catches for 2 yards, fumbling after one reception (though the ball rolled out of bounds). He also mishandled a punt that rolled to the back of the end zone and got his hands on a deep Trask sideline throw but couldn’t bring it in.

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WR Scotty Miller

It’s still no guarantee that Miller, one of the team’s most prolific pass-catchers less than two years ago, makes this roster. He certainly didn’t cement anything Saturday, dropping arguably Trask’s best throw of the night — a deep ball down the right side — late in the first half. Miller finished with one reception, a 15-yarder over the middle on third-and-6.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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