Having done the standouts and disappointing players on offense, we now move on to the standouts on defense. In general the Bucs' defense looked fairly impressive. They managed to hold the Kansas City Chiefs to just 86 yards on 24 carries, 68 yards on 16 passes adding 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 recovered fumbles. Granted, this was basically all against backups, but it looks good nonetheless. So who stood out individually?
DE Adrian Clayborn
The Bucs first-round draft pick showed up as a very good run-stopper. Clayborn was stout in the run game, very active and fired-up overall. He recorded two tackles, both for a loss, and was constantly active. He was very hard to move in the run game and consistently shed his blocker to impact the play. His impact in the passing game wasn't nearly as great, although he did manage to force Tyler Palko to scramble once. Clayborn also got a lot of snaps, playing more than any other starter by my estimation. He even got a snap as a defensive tackle on a passing down. Overall, a promising start for the rookie.
LB Mason Foster
Foster didn't play many downs, but was impressive when he did. He played fast and hard, hitting the hole downhill. He may be overaggressive at times, but he was committed to stuffing the run. Surprisingly, he was inserted on a couple of passing downs, and got a big hit on QB Tyler Palko after a scramble. Mason Foster seemed to be in the right position, playing hard, fast and physical, showing good sideline to sideline range. Foster could be very good, and he just needs to get the playbook down.
DT Frank Okam
With Gerald McCoy out, Frank Okam was inserted as the 3-technique. And surprisingly, the biggest man on the roster at 350 lbs looked disruptive as a 3-technique. He used his power and some real quickness to get into the backfield. He was also a force against the run, which is no surprise with his size, but managed to look good against the pass as well. While Okam won't be starting, this gives the Bucs some good depth along the defensive line.
CB Anthony Gaitor
The seventh-round pick out of Florida International had an impressive start to his career as a Buccaneer. With one pass defensed (slapped out of the hands of a receiver on third down) and a sack, the rookie showed up on the stat sheet, but he showed up on the field as well with solid coverage. Gaitor won't challenge for the nickel or even dime job, but he's someone who will get on the field in the future.
DE Michael Bennett
This last spot was close, as I wanted to give some love to Dekoda Watson and Kyle Moore too. Both players showed up on third down as pass rushers. Ultimately, though, the most disruptive pass rusher on the Bucs' side was Michael Bennett, who made every right tackle he played against look silly. He was also the first man to Tyler Palko in the endzone for the safety. Bennett frequently got chipped or even double-teamed, but made an impact despite that.
Bennett looked destructive as a pass rusher, but he won't be a starter on Sundays for one reason: run defense. He was consistently the weak link in run defense, getting pushed around a little and taking himself out of other plays with his aggressive upfield rush. Instead, look for Da'Quan Bowers to start at left end, as the rookie looked very solid in run defense, while being more or less invisible as a pass rusher.