TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 18: Running back LeGarrette Blount #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs the ball against the New England Patriots during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 18, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
This is not your normal preseason. In previous years, the Bucs would play their starters for a handful of snaps before pulling them and allowing the backups to fight it out for roster spots. But in the two preseason games so far, the starters played well into the second quarter. And that's not going to change for the third preseason game this year, as Josh Freeman expects to play the starters for at least the entire first half, and maybe longer.
Last week, the Bucs played very poorly in all phases of the game. There were few standouts, and it was a very ugly game for many different reasons. Some of this was blamed on a lack of gameplanning, but if that happens again that excuse won't hold up. While Freeman claims it will still be pretty basic, the breakdowns in protection and in run defense were fundamental breakdowns that should be very easy to fix. If they aren't fixed in the next game, we can really start worrying.
One thing that will at least help the offense is that Arrelious Benn and Kellen Winslow are both expected to play against the Dolphins. Both players have sat out the first two weeks of the first preseason, which struggled without them. With Luke Stocker available as well the Bucs should finally be able to practice with a fully healthy offense.