Besides the obvious standouts in preseason weeks 1 and 2 there have been a few unheralded players that should be pointed out. There are also a few players who should be called out to step up their game. Of course, Tanner Hudson, Ryan Griffen, and Spencer Schnell (in one game against the Steelers) are the obvious standouts. Without the coaches film it is very difficult, if not impossible, to rate the defensive secondary or the wide receivers. Actually, it is a crap shoot to rate anybody without the coaches film. With that being said, here are some players who have made an impact for explosive plays or doing really well for the few snaps they have gotten.
ILB #51 Kevin Minter had a fantastic game against Miami in week 2. He was all over the place making plays. His blitz where he met the RB at the hand-off was beautiful. Too bad it was called back on a holding penalty. The penalty could have been the cause for his ability to come rushing in untouched but, besides that play, he made a bevy of other plays which put him on this list.
ILB #59 Devonte Bond showed up in a big way during the Miami game in preseason week 2. He had a batted down pass after blowing by the LT which was a work of art. The defensive scheme against Miami showcased the linebackers and Bond made the most out of it.
OLB #58 Shaquil Barrett has made plenty of noise. Every game I have watched with Shaquil Barrett as a starter he made at least one spectacular play. I think Buc fans should be excited about him on the team. If the preseason is any indication, we got a steal for him in the offseason.
OLB #46 David Kenney. He has an interesting story line as to how he has made it this far in his quest to become an NFL player. He has spent many years training to be a premier pass rusher. From the few plays that he has been in, all late in the game, his practice seems to have paid off. He is a pure pass rusher with a toolbox of moves. In his own words, Kenney is not that great in coverage. It is something new for him and he has yet to get the hang of it. He cost the Bucs 8 points due to a coverage breakdown against Miami. His bread and butter seems to be pass rushing and that is where he excels. Granted, he has only gone up against the 3rd and 4th stringers but what he has shown is very promising. I would very much like to see him get a chance with the 2nd or even 1st stringers. There is a good chance that he does not make the team unfortunately. Coach Arians likes guys who are versatile and Kenny is kind of a one trick pony. A very good pony though. If we cut him, expect another team to snatch him up quick. He will not make it to our practice squad.
CB #37 Mazzi Wilkins. This guy is a play-maker. He is always around the ball. I think he has been involved in every tackle on special teams. He has a unique tackling style, too, which I find interesting. It incorporates a baseball slide with a shoestring tackle. A number of times I thought for sure that the runner would be able to get out of his hold but once he grabs on he appears to have an iron grip. Small, skinny guy but he has a great deal of heart and tenacity.
DE #56 Rakeem Nunez-Roches (aka Nacho). While not exactly as strong and athletic as Vita Vea, Nacho is a force to be reckond with. He plays with an aggressive attitude and has no problem throwing blockers around. He is going to be a quality rotational player for our defensive line.
DE #78 Jeremiah Ledbetter. Ledbetter (I always think of Pearl Jam when I see his name) has played very well, making some outstanding plays while making no mistakes. This is what you want to see in your backups. I was semi-worried about depth at our defensive line to start the year but with guys like Ledbetter and Nacho showing up on tape I am no longer concerned.
CB #35 Jamel Dean. With only playing in the Miami game due to injury, I would have to say that he is the real deal. He had one interception that turned the game around and almost had another one earlier in the game that he dropped. I don’t think he made any mistakes but without the all-22 available for preseason I cannot say that for sure. I don’t think his receivers ever caught a ball.
RG #65 Alex Cappa. Last year the right guard position was a mess. All year long there was a rotation at RG first between Evan Smith and Caleb Benenoch with Smith playing a couple of series and Benenoch playing a couple of series and then back to Smith and then back to Benenoch until Smith got injured mid season. Then they decide to rotate snaps with Benenoch and Cappa. This continued until the end of the year. Very weird thing to do. It did give us a chance to see Cappa play at RG and, honestly, I was of the opinion that he was capable. During the past two preseason games he has shown that he is more than capable. I have not seen him give up a block yet. And he has been helpful to other players on the line, especially Dotson. We have found our RG.
PK #9 Matt Gay. What can I say? Gay is making his kicks and winning games. That is what you want in a kicker.
S #27 Darian Stewart. After being signed only a few days before the second preseason game against Miami, Stewart showed up with some big plays against the Dolphins. He appears to be an aggressive player that likes to be involved in the action.
RB #44 Dare Ogunbowale. Pronouncing his name is half the battle. The announcers practiced saying his name before the games so they got it right and it has paid off because they have had to say his name quite a bit. His two screen plays against Miami were big time plays (one called back for a BS penalty) and his run out of the 3 TE set against our goal line got us out of a bind. I like him as our 2nd or 3rd RB.
Now for the guys that have shown up on tape for all of the wrong reasons.
LT #76 Donovan Smith. Come on dude. You got a huge payday in the off-season, mainly for never getting injured, but your performance so far has been minimum wage worthy. Smith has been on the ground for about 30% of his snaps. He has had plays where he forgets to block anybody. He has given up sacks and hits at a bad pace. This cannot continue through the year. I was not happy about his big signing and I am hoping that I am wrong but it appears, so far, that he was not worth it. Maybe playing behind someone else for a while will help him get his head on straight.
RB #32 Andre Ellington. At the beginning of the year I was sure that he was a lock for the team. After the past two preseason games I am sure he is a lock for getting cut. The guy cannot pass protect at all it appears. And the fumble last week against Miami was the nail in the coffin for him. Unless he comes out and plays well above average for the next two games (if he even sees the field), he is probably looking at hitting the streets before September.
WR #85 Bobo Wilson. With 13 receivers on the roster this is a crowded field that is very competitive. There are only a few roster spots for the taking at WR so everyone that wants to play is going to have to play well when they get a chance. Bobo has not. Dropped balls, bad blocking, and a general ho-hum performance overall has knocked him down the roster. He has a legitimate chance of not making this team if any of the other WRs behind him step it up. As it stands now there are only two WR spots available that 10 guys are fighting for. Bobo is going to have to do more than he has to make the team.
OLB #95 Farrington Huguenin. Huguenin who? Exactly. With the likes of Carl Nassib, Noah Spence, Shaquil Barrett and David Kenney playing good hard football, Huguenin’s performance is less than optimal. He has not made a single play and has actually made mistakes, especially in the running game. Honestly, it looks to me like the guy does not even want to be out there.
CB #26 Sean Murphy-Bunting. Not as advertised so far. He got a great deal of press and mentions during training camp but got burned bad during the Steelers game preseason week one. It was to the point that Coach Arians commented that he did not think Murphy-Bunting was even on the field. He is a young guy and a relatively high draft pick so he will probably make the team but he is not going to be a starter for sure.
RT #72 Brock Ruble. Great name but he is not ready to be a starter yet. If Dotson goes down, hopefully it will not be Ruble that we have to put in his place. He needs a lot more work.
LT #64 Cole Boozer. Boozer! Another great name but not a great lineman. Between Brock Ruble and Cole Boozer you have the makings of a good action movie in name. However, these two are getting beat consistently by backups that the movie would have to be more of a slapstick comedy. I can see the promotional material now: “Brock and Boozer star in the slapstick comedy Bad Blocking”. Boozer needs a great deal more work. It is not like he is slouching or taking plays off, he is getting beat by technique. Of course, against Miami he was going up against one of their starting Defensive Ends in #90 Charles Harris, who beat Boozer silly all game, but that is only a small glimpse as to how bad it would be if he went up against starters in the NFL. He is not ready by a long shot.