The last of the bunch has arrived. With the regular season less than a week away, the Texans will travel over to Tampa to take on the Bucs. The fourth preseason game is typically filled with backups, has-beens, might bes, and never will bes type of players. This is the game where the bottom 25% of the roster are fighting for their jobs, or trying to do enough on tape to get a team to give them a look. With the Bucs coming off of a low scoring home loss, look for them to finish the preseason on a high note.
Let's take a look at our abbreviated preview
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. ET - Friday, September 4, 2009
Location: Raymond James Stadium (65,890)
TV: WFLA-TV (NBC affiliate in Tampa Bay area). Channel 8 (Brighthouse/Verizon). High Def Feed Channel 608/508 (Brighthosue/Verizon)
Radio: US 103.5, flagship station (103.5 FM, 620 AM)
With the regular season and roster cut day just around the corner, a lot of guys will either play a series or just sit out. Most, if not all of the starters are going to be given the night off. However, you'll also see some of the lower level guys not playing. This is due to the injury settlement rule. If a player is injured during the game, the team must pay his contract or reach an injury settlement. So if a guy is going to be cut, often times teams won't play that player to ensure they aren't on the hook for his salary.
Quarterbacks for both sides still have something to prove. Dan Orlovsky of the Texans is still trying to live down his end zone escape against Minnesota last year. The Texans will probably give him some good game time with Schaub being the starter, and not being able to make it through a full season. The Bucs will turn it over to the Josh's, to give Freeman some reps (and it looks like the start) and to see what JJ can do and determine if he will be on the final 53 man roster.
The Bucs have an interesting dilemma at running back. Who do they play in this final showdown? I think Huggins gets a lot of time, but with Caddy, Graham, and Ward all being paid a good price, and the injury factor looming, I can't see them seeing many reps. Clifton could get some time, as well as Askew. Probably a tough decision to play any of these guys and risk them getting hurt. Arian Foster and possibly Ryan Moats will be toting the ball for the Texans.
Wide receiver battles typically come down to the last game. With AB and Clayton being healthy, but being held back, Stovall, Clark, Stroughter, Urrutia, Hankton, Maxwell, and Carter will all be battling. The last four ar eprobably fighting for one roster spot, so keep an eye both on their receiver plays and special teams plays. Jacoby Jones for the Texans seems to light it up in the preseason, let's see if he continues that this year.
The lines on both sides for both teams will be all about finding that depth. The starters are probably already determined, but finding that 3rd end or tackle that can rotate in is important. I would expect Kyle Moore and Dre Moore to see alot of time, along with the Bradwell's of the world. These spots are up for grabs as depth is HUGE at these positions.
I'm a little dismayed with the linebacking position right now. I feel like our starters need some time on the field, but know they won't see it. The Texans have their starting trio locked up, but again, a good time to discover some depth. The seconday for the Bucs will see some extensive work as we are still searching for a nickel corner, maybe a #2 corner for a few games and some much needed depth at safety.
The special teams guys are all set. Dont expect to see Matt Bryant on the field either Friday night, or any time this year in a Bucs jersey barring injury. Having played zero games and been to under 5 practices (as an active player), the writing is on the wall here. Return jobs are always fluctuating, so any one who can make a play may play his way onto the team.
I fully expect a fairly sloppy game with a good amount of mistakes as rookies and lower level guys are on the field. Truth be told, it's game most people don't watch. But keep an eye on it, sometimes you get to see th future of a team, or it may be the last time you get to see your favorite player suit up for your home town team.
Prediction: The Bucs will walk out with their first home win, 24-20. Nothing like trying to predict how the future UPS workers will fare against the future waiters.