Starters Barely Play
Once again, we can't say anything meaningful on the starters. Most of them barely got into the game, with 8 snaps for the starting offense. They got 13 snaps last week. It's even sillier on defense, where Gerald McCoy has a combined 18 preseason snaps and Lavonte David has 16. No wonder the starters are getting outplayed -- they're just not having a big impact on the game, and the quality players are being subbed out after just a handful of plays, presumably to avoid injury.
Two interesting notes on the starting lineup, though: Daniel Te'o-Nesheim got the start over Da'Quan Bowers, although Bowers was rotated in early on and both received a similar number of snaps (29 vs 28). Mike Remmers was the other name that stood out: the offensive lineman got the start at left guard, and received 50 snaps throughout the game
Backups Making An Impact
With Chris Owusu out, a few receivers got some more snaps -- but none more so than David Douglas, who took 49 snaps, more than any other skill player. Sadly, his production lagged behind his snap count, with just 16 receiving yards. That was still more than most of his competition, though, who did very little to make an impact. The Bucs gave the bottom of their receiving corps a lot of opportunities in this game, but they just couldn't get it going.
At running back, of course, Mike James had a very good game. With 15 carries for 81 yards and another 3 receptions for 23 yards he outplayed Peyton Hillis. But what really stood out to me was not really his running, though that was good, but the work he got in pass protection with Brian Leonard -- and the quality job he did there. The Bucs are likely to keep just three running backs, and James' versatility on offense and on special teams (8 snaps) are likely to guarantee him a roster spot.
Tiquan Underwood seems to be rapidly falling behind Kevin Ogletree, but both received an equal number of snaps. Tom Crabtree got significantly more work than Luke Stocker with 21 snaps versus 11 for Stocker, but that may just be due to Stocker's recovery from an injury, who barely featured on special teams either. Danny Noble got some extensive playing time with 29 snaps, though.
On defensive the Bucs are clearly looking to see who stands out among the backups. Steven Means' 34 snaps topped the defensive line list, with William Gholston's 33 not far behind. Rashaan Melvin got an extended look with 30 snaps and the additional 15 special teams snaps tell me he's nearly certain to make the roster.
Backups with little playing time are likely to get cut. Backups with little playing time and few special teams plays are guaranteed to get cut. On defense, defensive tackle Andre Neblett, defensive end Markus White, free safety Troy Nolan and linebacker Joe Holland are not getting enough playing time to show they can stick in the NFL. They seem to be thoroughly out of any position battles they may have been in at some point.
On offense, WR Terrian Crump, WR Chris Denton and G Adam Smith are getting the short end of the stick. None as much as Michael Smith, though. Remember that explosive kick return? That was one of two total plays he was in on during the game. No one who took at least one snap had fewer snaps. At this point, he's almost certain to get cut.
The flip side is that there are a few players who got more snaps than one would expect. Tight end/wide receiver Tim Wright is one of those players, as he received a whopping 25 snaps on offense and another 9 on special teams. He seems to be doing well in a roster battle, although he has some decent competition for his roster spot. Like WR Carlton Mitchell who got 25 snaps to prove himself, but is a non-factor on special teams, which is likely to hurt him come cut day.
A few other core special teams players include Steven Means, Najee Goode and Michael Adams. Those three appear to be locks for a roster spot, and Rashaan Melvin's rapidly joining that group with 30 snaps on defense and 15 on special teams. Keith Tandy isn't far behind.
Two players may make it as special teamers only: linebackers Jacob Cutrera and Dom Decicco both got a lot of special teams snaps but few defensive snaps to go along with it. Core special teamers usually make up the final few roster spots, and they could fill that role if necessary.
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