Having looked at the players on offense, it's now time to look at the players on defense. Who to watch when the Patriots try to dissect the Bucs' defense?
DT Gerald McCoy:
McCoy was absent with a minor shoulder injury against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he should play this week. Last season, McCoy failed to make an impact until late in the season before ending up on IR. He has supposedly attacked the weight room this offseason, improving his explosion, strength and understanding of what he needs to do. In addition, new coaches Grady Stretz and Keith Millard have turned the Bucs' defensive line into a more aggressive, upfield unit - which resulted in six team sacks against the Chiefs. It will be interesting to see whether Gerald McCoy can be the explosive, disruptive force he was drafted to be. He will at least see a good challenge, as the Patriots have one of the best and deepest offensive lines in the NFL.
LB Mason Foster:
Foster looked decent in the first game, but it was only a couple of snaps, and we didn't see enough of him to truly evaluate him. The key will be whether he understands the playbook and gets in position to make the play. I expect him to play more tomorrow.
DT Frank Okam:
Okam really looked good as a 3-technique against the Chiefs. It will be interesting to see how the Bucs play him against the Patriots, and whether they keep him there or move his big body to nose tackle with the injuries to Miller and Price there. Okam is likely to make the roster as a backup defensive tackle and will probably get significant snaps throughout the season.
LB Dekoda Watson:
Dekoda Watson looked very good as a pass rusher against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he wasn't playing against really good players. He will get a much bigger challenge against the Patriots, who have quality depth at offensive tackle. If he can continue to flash as a pass rusher, the Bucs could have a real weapon here.
CB Ashton Youboty:
Youboty is a recent addition to the team and the Bucs basically want to see what he has to add to the team. If he looks very good he could play himself into a roster spot - or he could play himself right out of one, too. He has more experience than all the other young cornerbacks on the roster, which could give him a leg up, especially with this shortened offseason.