The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play their fourth preseason game tonight, when they face the Washington Redskins. The Bucs aren't expected to trot out many (if any) starters, which will make this game mostly meaningless. The only real value: to find out who will stick and who won't stick on the roster. So, let's take a look at five players who could be on the bubble today:
Two years ago, Cody Grimm looked like a valuable player - a force in the run game who worked best as a deep safety coming down into the box. Then, he broke his leg - and he hasn't looked like the same player since. As a result, Grimm is currently third on the depth chart and struggling to make the team. The fact that his competition has been pretty lackluster helps him, but Grimm needs a good day on the field and on special teams to make the roster.
LB Najee Goode
Goode was the Bucs' fifth-round draft pick this year, but has done devastatingly little so far. Goode hasn't stood out on special teams, and looks like nothing more than a one-dimensional run-stopper on the field. The fact that he's one of Schiano's draft picks should help him, but he's been outplayed by almost every linebacker on the roster. He needs to start showing up on film, or he won't be with the team for long.
Shipley was completely invisible last game despite being a highly-touted waiver claim. The slot receiver will have to show he still has some explosive ability and, more importantly, that he can be reliable and productive as a punt returner. He's competing with Sammie Stroughter for a roster spot - and whoever shines most may just make the team. There's also a tiny chance that both of them make the team, bumping Preston Parker off the roster.
RB Mossis Madu
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have three running backs who will make the team: Doug Martin, Legarrette Blount and Michael Smith. The first two primarily because of their ability as running backs, while Smith will also contribute as a kickoff returner. That leaves Mossis Madu as the odd man out, and he could easily be cut if the team thinks it can survive the season with three running backs.
Gilberry looked great in the first preseason game, stunting inside from the left defensive end spot and getting consistent penetration. Since then, he's disappeared and he has to be on the bubble now. Helping him is the fact that he can play both end and tackle, and his competition for the tackle spot hasn't exactly been stellar: neither Gary Gibson nor Frank Okam has shown up during games. Hurting him: E.J. Wilson has shown up, and he's a swing lineman just like Gilberry. Wilson has been so good, in fact, that I'm fairly confident he's going to make the team regardless. Gilberry, though? He needs a good game.