The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have four running backs and one fullback under contract right now. Doug Martin is obviously guaranteed a roster spot, while Erik Lorig is extremely likely to hang on to his as well. Brian Leonard appears to have cemented himself as the backup running back, while Mike James has looked pretty good too.
That leaves Peyton Hillis. The running back gets some fan support and comparisons to Mike Alstott for somewhat obvious but largely misplaced reasons. He hasn't looked bad this preseason, but he hasn't looked particularly good either. But what really hurts Hillis is what he doesn't do: block and play special teams. He's a runner, and not much else at this point of his career. He'll have to show up in a big way for the Bucs to overlook that and keep him on the roster.
Offseason hype maestro Chris Owusu is in danger of getting cut. He looked pretty bad in the first game of the season, dropping numerous passing, muffing a punt and running the wrong route on at least one occasion. That was not a good debut, and to make matters worse he suffered an injury late in the game and has missed the subsequent two games.
Will he play tonight? We don't really know, yet. If he's going to be held out I don't know how he'll make the roster, though perhaps he's shown enough in the offseason to stick regardless of his participation. But a productive performance today would certainly help.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to cut at least one draftee on roster cutdown day. They just have too many quality defensive ends. Adrian Clayborn, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (with his fully guaranteed contract) and Da'Quan Bowers are guaranteed roster spots. Trevor Scott seems to be playing himself into one rather quickly, as the only defensive end besides Clayborn to put up a consistent pass rush.
That's four defensive ends, which would usually be plenty. But the Bucs can add at least one more, given the fact that Bowers and Te'o-Nesheim can play three-technique, at least in theory. That fifth defensive end is likely to be Steven Means, who has received more first-team playing time than Gholston (who didn't see any) and has looked decent, if raw.
So that leaves William Gholston, who could get cut. It's never pretty when you have to cut a fourth-round pick in his first year, but sometimes it has to be done. Not that Gholston has been bad, really, but he hasn't made an impact either. And unless he can make an impact today, that could lead to his hitting the waiver wire.
Fourth defensive tackle
Will the Buccaneers even keep a fourth defensive tackle? And if they do, who will it be? Gerald McCoy, Akeem Spence and Gary Gibson are probably guaranteed a roster spot. Derek Landri is closest to making it to the roster, as the only other defensive tackle to have done anything this offseason. Will Matthew Masifilio and Andre Neblett be able to threaten any of those players?
The Buccaneers have three safeties who will make the roster: Mark Barron, Dashon Goldson and Ahmad Black. They're going to keep a fourth, at least, and maybe a fifth. But who will that be? I don't give Sean Baker much of a shot, though he could always make a surprise run at it. But Cody Grimm and Keith Tandy will have to earn their roster spots tonight, with neither player having done much this preseason.
We have some really good position battles among the specialists, too. Derek Dimke has done well as a kicker this preseason, but Rian Lindell didn't miss any of his opportunities last week. Michael Koenen has looked good -- but the Bucs could save a whopping $2 million if Chas Henry beats him out. And then there's old veteran Andrew Economos and the much younger Andrew DePaola at longsnapper. Both players have looked pretty good. Who will win?
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