Patriots - Buccaneers: Five players to watch when the Bucs have the ball

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 12: Linebacker Eric Bakhtiari #66 of the Kansas City Chiefs sacks quarterback Josh Johnson #11 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half on August 12, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

The Bucs' second preseason game is coming up, and as always in preseason games the ultimate result doesn't really matter. Individual performances, however, do matter. There were a lot of positives and a few negatives to take away from the Bucs' first preseason game. Based on those observations, here are five players I'll be watching closely in the next game.

RB Legarrette Blount
Blount did not look all that different from last year, which isn't necessarily a problem. What is a problem is the fact that he missed at least one very big cut, leaving a lot of yards on the field. That's a problem he needs to fix, as it limited him last year. Blount was pretty good last season, but he can be much better, and I'll be watching to see if he can learn to make the right cuts. 

G Davin Joseph
Joseph got a big contract from the Bucs, and looked very good against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Bucs' first preseason game. He was very strong in the run game and didn't get beat in the passing game. But Joseph will face a bigger challenge on Thursday, playing against Vincent Wilfork, Shaun Ellis (placed on PUP) and perhaps Albert Haynesworth. Can he prove he's worth the big contract?

TE Collin Franklin
Franklin was a waiver wire pickup from the New York Jets and has supposedly looked pretty good the past days in training camp. With Luke Stocker still injured he will get a chance to show off his skills. It will be interesting to see whether he can separate from the other tight ends, who have been lackluster so far. 

WR Preston Parker
Parker conspicuously dropped a ball against the Chiefs and never actually caught one. Parker is battling for a roster spot and needs to perform to hang on. He hasn't done that so far, so I'll be looking to see if he stands out in any phase of the game - as a punt returner, kick returner or wide receiver. 

RB Armando Allen Jr
Allen showed a little wiggle and looked like perhaps the best running back against the Chiefs. He won't be a special player, but he's a kind of running back the Bucs don't have on the roster. If he can produce against the Patriots, he may just make a push to stay on the roster. 

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