With the first preseason game in the books, we can start evaluating players. The offense looked sharp but not dominant yesterday, as the Bucs put up 23 points on the Chiefs' defense - the Bucs defense added 2 points on a safety. So who stood out for me on a first viewing?
T Jeremy Trueblood:
Trueblood looked very sharp, and this performance coupled with James Lee's very disappointing night all but guarantees him the starting spot on the offensive line. Trueblood looked his usual strong self as a run blocker, but did surprisingly well as a pass blocker, although he didn't face a real quality pass rusher. The starting offensive line as a whole stood out, pushing back the Chiefs' defensive line and giving Josh Freeman time to find the open man. Unless Trueblood regresses and Lee plays much better the next 3 games, Trueblood will start once the regular season begins.
QB Josh Johnson:
Johnson wants a chance at a starting job somewhere else, and this was a good audition for him. Johnson connected on 7 of his 12 attempts for 108 yards while adding 57 yards on 5 carries on the ground. Johnson did have 2 sacks, including one ugly sack he should have seen coming miles away, but was never flustered by the pressure and looked in control. That was missing when he started in 2009, as he panicked under pressure. In this game, Johnson generally made accurate throws with good velocity on the ball. He would certainly represent an upgrade for some teams (like the Cincinnati Bengals).
WR Dezmon Briscoe:
Briscoe was the main target in the Bucs' offense, catching 4 of 5 balls thrown his way for 60 yards. While the second-year wideout didn't show any special skills, he was consistently open and produced, which is a valuable trait for a wide receiver. This doesn't mean Briscoe will start during the regular season, and he will likely find himself stuck behind Williams, Benn, Winslow and third-down backs for targets, but he should be able to contribute on offense.
RB Armando Allen Jr:
Allen got a couple of carries near the end of the game, and looked pretty decent doing so despite playing behind a poorly performing offensive line. On 4 carries he gained 18 yards, which includes a 5-yard loss where the defender was in the backfield as soon as Allen got the ball. Allen did not look like a special running back, but he looked quick, shifty and decisive - qualities the other Bucs' running backs lack.
G Ted Larsen:
Larsen was a surprise and marginal rookie starter last season, but looks to have improved tremendously. He looked strong in the running game, and didn't get beat in the passing game. Larsen has reportedly had a good training camp and certainly looked like a much improved player.