Despite the result, there were still some positives to take away from the game against the New England Patriots. Who among the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stood out on defense?
DT Gerald McCoy
McCoy looked very impressive on defense. He looked explosive and disruptive, and fought his way into the backfield on many occasions. His first step was a real surprise, as he got a terrific jump on the ball. It wasn't all good, though - the Patriots took advantage of his aggression by trap blocking him on one play, which is to be expected with the way the Bucs play on the defensive line. And while McCoy was disruptive on many plays, he fell just short of actually making the play a number of times. But McCoy was easily the best player on defense, and looks to be the guy the Bucs thought they drafted with the third overall pick a year ago.
CB Elbert Mack
I've been a staunch critic of Elbert Mack, who I feel has held up poorly in coverage over the years, but he played well against the Patriots. He wasn't targeted much in coverage, and didn't really give up many plays either. Meanwhile, he picked off Ryan Mallett (admittedly an easy play) and defensed another pass. He flying around the field nd added 3 tackles to his totals. I don't think Mack makes the roster, but what he did on Thursday was impressive.
LB Dekoda Watson
Watson continues to push for playing time. He was active in the run game, looking fast and making five total tackles. But he may really earn playing time on third down, when he was on the field with the first team as a pass rusher. In fact, the first-team pass-rushing unit consisted of Dekoda Watson and Michael Bennett at defensive end, and Adrian Clayborn and Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle.
CB Anthony Gaitor
Anthony Gaitor had another strong showing, and is quickly becoming a certainty to make the roster. With 2 passes defensed and 4 total tackles he was active again, showing up constantly. It's very clear why the Bucs liked Gaitor so much: he shows up, he plays hard, and he has skills and talent. If Myron Lewis' injury continues to keep him off the field, Gaitor could win the dime job. Gaitor isn't the only defensive back at the bottom of the roster to show up, either. CB D.J. Johnson has been making his mark in pass defense as well, and S Larry Asante has shown up throughout the past two games as well.
S Cody Grimm
Whereas I thought he looked absent last week, I felt like he looked faster this week. He had one play on which he came flying up to fill a gap in the run game and make a strong tackle, and added another two tackles throughout the contest. He looked closer to the player he was last year than the injury-limited player he seemed to be last week. He didn't look 100% yet, but the progression is promising.