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Grading out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Special Teams

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Special Teams always accounts for what the talking heads like to call "hidden yards."  Thursday night's game didn't feature many big special teams plays either for or against us.  Let's hop on over and look at the grades

Kick/Punt Return

No one took one all the way back, but Clifton Smith still showed he can move with the ball and create some plays.  He had two nice returns where he displayed his shiftiness and made guys miss.  You make one guy miss on a punt return, it could equal big yards.  Sammy Stroughter came back down to Earth, but as long as positive yards are taken on punt returns and we hit the 20 on kickoff returns, I can't argue.  Not a stellar night, but average.  Grade: C

Punter

I will continue to harp on Dirk Johnson until I see some consistency.  He's never had a regular season punt blocked, but that didn't stop him from getting a preseason punt blocked.  Granted, the line didn't protect, but ultimately, it falls on him.  I won't knock him too much for that.  He averaged 32 yards per punt.  That looks like an awful number but when you look at where he was punting (inside the 50), it's hard to achieve any distance.  He did generate one fair catch inside the 20, but I want to see some inside the 10.  He also half shanked a punt that went end over end.  We need consistency here.  Grade: C

Kicker

I'm almost tired of talking about this at this point.  Mike Nugent came on, displayed a little bit better power on kickoffs, getting a few to the endzone, but no touchbacks.  He was 2 out of 3 on field goals, with his miss coming on a 51 yard attempt.  This was after he made a 46 yarder whistled dead due to a penalty.  His misses have been from 46,51,51 so it at least he isn't missing chip shots, but right now he is 4 for 7 on the preseason.  Not all that impressive.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that he has no competition at this point.  Makes me wonder if Nugent will be the guy, or if they are just saving Bryant's leg at this point.  Grade: C+

Coverage Units

Kickoff returns were consistently taken outside the 30.  Punt returns were pretty well shut down.  Just no big plays and maintain field position.  That seems to be the MO here.  Grade: B