5 Things To Watch In Tonight’s Preseason Finale

August 31st, 2017

Don’t think tonight’s game matters? Don’t tell that to Russell Shepard and Adam Humphries, guys like them found an NFL career after strong success in the meaningless Game 4 of the preseason. 

Here are five reasons to watch tonight — or head to the game and drink overpriced beer and scream like a maniac for your beloved Bucs.

Fumbles – Remember what happened to Kenny Bell last year? He got one kickoff to catch in the preseason. He fumbled it, and that was the end of his Tampa Bay career. Dirk Koetter will not tolerate bad ball security and, to date, the Bucs’ skill position players have been great this preseason. Bubble guys like Bernard Reedy or Josh Huff or Jeremy McNichols or Alan Cross could see their livelihoods crushed with bad fumbles tonight.

Leonard Wester – Starting for Demar Dotson on Saturday, Wester looked pretty darn solid. Undrafted last year out of Division II Missouri Western, the 6-6, 305-pound Wester made the most of his chances last year and did enough to stick around. A good game tonight and Joe’s not so sure the Bucs are willing to toss Wester aside, given Dotson’s age and groin issue, plus questions surrounding Caleb Benenoch.

Ryan Smith – The Bucs’ roller coaster second-year cornerback, who the Bucs thought was a safety last year, is always going to be in the spotlight. One minute he sucks, the next minute it’s obvious what the Bucs see in him. Smith will get a load of reps tonight, as he has all preseason. Joe doesn’t think Smith is playing for a job, but he might be playing to keep general manager Jason Licht from signing the first halfway decent cornerback to get released this weekend. And no, Joe Haden was not fit here. Stop that.

Justin Evans – Can we please give this guy a real shot at winning the full-time kick returner job? Dirk Koetter can say all day long that there’s not a lot of value in the position. Let’s see if that’s the case on opening day in Miami. Dolphins returner Kenyan Drake averaged 30.5 yards a return last year, with nine of 13 returns more than 20 yards. In all, the Dolphins had 20 kick returns of 20+ yards last season. The Bucs had five.

Sackless George Johnson – The Bucs need to find a spark in their edge pass rush. Johnson has no regular-season sacks since joining the Bucs in 2015. But somebody at One Buc must respect this guy, and the six sacks he had with Detroit in 2014. If Johnson goes wild tonight against future furniture movers, P.E. teachers, grad students and Wall Street interns, might he actually stick around?

28 Responses to “5 Things To Watch In Tonight’s Preseason Finale”

  1. Casey Morgan Says:

    I’d add running backs– Good chance that Jeremy McNichols doesn’t make the team. Could Russell Hansborough sneak into the 53?

  2. Mexican Buc Says:

    McNichols last chance to show Koetter why he was drafted

  3. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    McNichols better become the McWeapon, or he will be gone.

  4. BigDirk Says:

    McWeapon about to work at McDonalds.

  5. SCBucsFan Says:

    McNichols will at least be here until Dougie returns. If he’s still clueless after game 3 then off he goes.

  6. Ralphie Says:


  7. iamtheone Says:

    Is it that McNichols is just not studying enough?
    I’ve always been in the camp that smart can fix skill, but skill wont make ya smart enough.

  8. Brandon Says:

    I think Bernard Reedy makes a claim to WR spot #5. He’s decent as a WR, has shown speed and run after catch ability… but his punt returning alone is what sets him apart. He is clearly our most explosive punt returner since Clifton Smith was back there for us. I’m not overly concerned about who we have back to down our kickoffs in the endzone, but Reedy has consistently flipped the field as a punt returner. That is huge.

    I don’t see a big chance of Hansborough making the final 53. McNichols plays okay on special teams, which is what he will be asked to do as RB4 anyways. Hansborough had a nice gain late against Cleveland but made a rookie mistake by running out of bounds during the 4 minute offense. McNichols has much greater upside. I hope to see him get many opportunities tonight and make the most of them.

    I’d like to see what Justin Evans and Riley Bullough has. Neither have made it onto the field before 3rd stringers get called in. Evans couldn’t tackle to save his life in college and I wonder if he’s improved. Considering he’s a 2nd round pick and hasn’t cracked the 2 deep lineup, it’s highly doubtful. Riley has played well when in there, just missing on a few big plays that would have sealed the game…but is he just a step slow?

    I’m also anxious to see Sefo make an extended appearance. His college tape looked pretty good, he looked like a poor man’s Jameis Winston. He’s barely played in the preseason but he looks like a possible practice squad edition and backup QB of the future.

  9. Easy Denman Says:

    I’m looking at corner depth

  10. Casual Observer Says:

    Agree with Evans as a kick returner. Let’s see.

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Some of these guys better show us something. I can’t say that I paid much attention to Wester, but it’s clear that we need depth at that position. Heck, at a lot of positions. I’m crossing my fingers that Ryan Smith pans out.
    And good ‘ol “he’s going to make us forget Doug Martin”! He needs to step up or the only thing he’ll be remembered for is being from Martin’s alma matter (sp)!

  12. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Wow. I actually forgot the game was tonight…guess that means I have to work faster to get stuff done earlier.

  13. BigDirk Says:

    McWeapon seems about as intelligent as a small box of hammers so far…hopefully he learns the offense and how to pass protect a bit soon. He looks fluid while running…

  14. EA Says:

    Smoking pot with Uncle Snoop has damaged his brain cells.

  15. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    McWeapon about to work at McDonalds.

    Wow BigDirk and Ralphie…lucky for the Dolphins you’re not their GM.

    Ajayi…McWeapons fellow BSU alum saw action in only nine games rushing for 187 yards his rookie year. Last year he followed that up with over 1200 yards.

    Guys here would have cut him his rookie season because he was a bust. LOL

  16. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    This is evolving of course, and we’ll have a clearer picture after this game so far as the backups go, but here is my 2nd Roster Prediction:

    Quarterback: Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Left Tackle: Donovan Smith, Leonard Wester

    Left Guard: Kevin Pamphile, Josh Allen

    Center: Ali Marpet, Joe Hawley

    Right Guard: J.R. Sweezy, Evan Smith

    Right Tackle: Demar Dotson, Caleb Benenoch

    Wide Reciever 1: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin

    Wide Reciever 2: DeSean Jackson, Freddie Martino, Josh Huff

    Wide Reciever 3: Adam Humphries, Donteea Dye

    Tight End: Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard, Luke Stocker, Alan Cross

    Running Back: Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, Peyton Barber, Jeremy McNichols (I think they keep him at least until Martin returns)

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Left Defensive End: Robert Ayers, Noah Spence

    Right Defensive End: William Gholston, DaVonte Lambert

    Left Defensive Tackle: Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald

    Right Defensive Tackle: Chris Baker, Sealver Siliga, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu

    Strongside Linebacker: Devante Bond, Kendell Beckwith

    Middle Linebacker: Kwon Alexander, Riley Bullough

    Weakside Linebacker: Lavonte David, Cameron Lynch

    Cornerback: Brent Grimes, Javien Elliott

    Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves, Robert McClain

    Safety: Chris Conte, Justin Evans

    Safety: Keith Tandy, J.J. Wilcox

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Punter: Bryan Anger

    Kicker: Nick Folk

    Long Snapper: Garrison Sanborn

    Punt Returner: Adam Humphries
    Kick Returner: Josh Huff or Justin Evans

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Total: 53

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Suspended: Doug Martin (Until Game 4)

    Injured Reserve: Justin Trattou (DE)

    Physically Unable to Perform: Jacquies Smith (DE)

    Note: As I said, this is evolving. Right now, I have defense running a little low…but I think that is because the offense is going to have more players this year. Jeremy McNichols might make it to after game 3 when Martin returns. Maybe. But I’m going on the assumption he will be there opening day.

    The other wildcards I listed are Josh Huff and Riley Bullough. Huff did well on returns in the Preseason…that’s the only reason I have him there. Riley Bullough all depends on whether they want a backup for Kwon, and whether or not they are happy with Kendell Beckwith as a swing backup. I hope Riley makes the team personally.

    I’m probably wrong on about 6 guys, but that’s the fun of it!

  17. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    On tonight’s game, I’m looking forward to seeing:

    QB Sefo Liufau play. We only saw him briefly in the preseason, but during the few snaps he looked great in the game. I’m not expecting him to compete for a spot, of course, but I’m curious as to whether he can earn a practice squad spot. If so, we just might have to call him up if Winston goes down…because we’ll get sick of Fitz pretty darn fast.

    Also, who will claim those 5th and 6th WR spots? (I think they keep 6)
    While I am hoping for Derel Walker to make the team, I have a feeling I will have to eat crow on my prediction for him, because they barely played him in the preseason. He does qualify for the Practice Squad I think, so we shall see.

    More likely, those two spots will be between Freddie Martino, Josh Huff and Donteea Dye. At first I thought it would be Martino for the 5th spot, but Dye has come on strong and Martino seems to have taken a step back.

    Assuming Dye gets the 5th spot means Josh Huff and Freddie Martino will duke it out for the final spot. Huff has a slight edge because of his kick returns. Only slightly though.

    So I’m hoping tonight will clarify this.

    And, of course, what will Antony Auclair do tonight? Will he at least earn a practice squad spot? A roster spot?

  18. Billy Buc N Brazil Says:

    Anyone know if Godwin will play tonight?

  19. Mo_Downs Says:

    I can’t believe the regular season is right around the corner. Been a really fast preseason. Too bad some campers will be gone before they got a real chance to perform up to their ability.

    Good luck to everyone.

    Go Bucs..!!

  20. Mo_Downs Says:

    The Skins are a hard hitting bunch.
    Stay healthy Bucs. We’ve got a rough schedule so let’s figure out how to score in the Red Zone before mid-season.

    Nothing wrong with scoring early and often, Dirk.

    Go Bucs…!!!

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    Wow Bonzai, I thought you were on a roll there … right up until WR, then you lost me. Do you really believe Koetter will keep 7 WRs but only 4 CBs & 4 DEs? (Smitty would go ballistic I bet). And why would we keep 5 DTs, especially when Siliga & Stevie T are essentially the same player? You’ve got 27 offense, 23 defense & 3 ST. Gut feel at this point is that Bucs will go 25-25-3, with an outside possibility it might end up 26-24-3 (very outside IMO).

    Doubt that Josh Allen makes the cut (Bucs don’t need 10 OLinemen; 9 is sufficient). Out of Martino, Huff & Dye, my guess is that they’ll keep Reedy (the other 3 will be available on the street if someone gets injured). Agree with ya on McWeapon … they’ll keep him for now, but only until Martin returns. Lambert might make it, but I’d put my $$$ on Russell before him. Riley won’t make the cut either (Bucs will keep Glanton before they keep Bullough). And we’ll keep at least 5 CBs (add in Josh Robinson who you didn’t list) and more than likely 6 (we’ll keep Ryan Smith who you also didn’t list). However, if an experienced CB hits the wire after the cutdowns, Bucs would be mighty tempted to add 1 & cut 1.

    Oh, and IMO Koetter & Licht already know which 53 they’ll be keeping … barring any injuries tonight of course.

  22. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Defense Rules, I agree with you one them knowing who they are keeping. You could tell on Hard Knocks that they’d had meetings about it.

    I think it will take bubble players really good results tonight to change anything.

    And I’m not going to say you are wrong on any of what you said, because none of us really know for sure.

    On the WRs, I meant to put:

    Wide Reciever 2: DeSean Jackson, Freddie Martino or Josh Huff

    Some tough calls coming this week on offense.

  23. gilhealy Says:

    I’m thinking they’ll keep Auclair. Koetter’s mentioned, and Juice also said, they’ve worked him out at WR. How cool would it be with O.J. spit wide with Brate and Auclair in 2 TE set. Ouch. I’d love to see Koetter’s been playing possum all pre season. If the line gives #3 time to set his feet and scan, this should without a doubt be a very lethal offense. Interested in seeing Auclair and McNichols tonight. Hey, maybe the kid got his mind right. Do or die. You want it or you don’t. With his skill set, I’d love for him to want it. The more the merrier. This is why all these coaches came when Dirk called. Let this dog run.

  24. tnew Says:

    Bonzai.. Unless he is IR, you have to account for Ryan Griffin. Don’t think they would have re upped him without intending him to be on the roster. Way to put it out there tho! I respect that tons. Most just say keep this guy and cut that one without concern to the 53 and how it affects the balance of the team. I started doing that when the Bucs cut Culpepper. I couldn’t find a way to keep him on the team. Making a 53 is way tougher than it sounds. Mine isn’t far from yours. I will finalize mine tomorrow after I watch the game a couple of times (love the <40 minute replays)

  25. I Bleed Red Says:

    JoeBucsFan are any of those players beside the obvious rookies like McNichols, or Cross eligible for the practice squad. Shepard, Humphries? Or do we just cut bait?

  26. orlbucfan Says:

    Get rid of Fitzgerald. He’s the backup to Fameis? Right. McClown Redux. It will be fun to watch this one. Is Godwin playing tonight? He’s a keeper. We’ve got a serious offense here in Buc world. That will be a first. Go Bucs!!

  27. GhostofSchiano Says:

    @Buccaneer Bonzai

    Agreed and Agreed.

    I would like to see Joe give a grade on this years preseason –

    Broken down by Offense – defense – special teams – draft picks

    I would enjoy reading that.

  28. Dave Says:

    Reedy or dye for wr #5
    The SU lb or Joe dirt.

    Those seem to be the two big questions