TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 18: Running back Allen Bradford #38 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scores a touchdown as defender Niko Koutouvides #46 of the New England Patriots cannot stop him during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 18, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Here are five Buccaneers on offense who I'm going to be watching intently on tomorrow, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Miami Dolphins in their third preseason game.
T Jeremy Trueblood
The entire offensive line bears watching as they looked horrendous against the New England Patriots, but the player with the toughest challenge ahead of him is Jeremy Trueblood. The veteran tackle performed well against the Patriots, but he was the exception on the offensive line. He will face the worst kind of opponent for him this game: speed rushers. Whether Koa Misi or Cameron Wake will rush against him, he will have his work cut out for him.
Seeing Trueblood pass block against those kinds of players is important, because he has often failed miserably when facing speed rushers in the past. Trueblood is a slow-footed tackle, and he will get beaten easily by a good speed rushers, especially if the rushers uses frequent counter moves. If Trueblood can hold up against either Wake or Misi, the Bucs should feel a lot more secure about their protection. If he can't, expect to see a lot of running backs and tight ends helping Trueblood during the regular season.
WR Arrelious Benn
Arrelious Benn finally returns to action after spending the offseason rehabbing from an ACL injury. Benn had started making an impact toward the end of his rookie year, with a four-catch, 122 yard effort against the Redskin being the high point of his season. Unfortunately, he saw his rookie year end with an injury sustained against the Seattle Seahawks in week 16.
Benn has not participated in a game since, missing the Bucs' first two preseason games. However, he's expected to make his post-injury debut against the Miami Dolphins tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if Benn trusts his knee yet, and whether he can make his cuts at full speed. If so, he should have a much better season this year.
TE Luke Stocker
The Bucs' fourth-round pick is supposed to play a big role on offense, but he first has to show that he can handle the blocking and pass-catching load. His blocking skill will be especially crucial: if he can hold up at the point of attack, the Bucs will let him get on the field frequently throughout the regular season. Stocker has missed the first two preseason games with a hip injury, so this will be the first time we get to see him on the field in a Buccaneers uniform.
RB Allen Bradford
Bradford did not look good against the Kansas City Chiefs, but seemed to be the only running back capable of gaining any yards against the New England Patriots last week. If the rookie can continue to improve he could force himself onto the roster and get himself some extra touches. I wouldn't expect much out of him as a third-down back, so the key will be whether he can be a decisive, downhill runner.
TE Daniel Hardy
Daniel Hardy has looked decent as a pass-catching tight end these past games. With another good performance he could earn himself a roster spot. He can make it easier for himself to make the roster with some solid blocking, but Hardy is more of a receiving tight end and will really have to make his mark in the passing game. So far he has looked decent, but not special.