The first preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins has shown us a few glimpses of players. With many new players on the roster and several older players needing to show improvement, the first game was an important one for a lot of different players. Let's go through a couple of position battles and the respective winners and losers.
Starting running back: Legarrette Blount or Doug Martin
This is the most obvious position battle on the team: will the more experienced but slightly limited player take the starting role, or will the versatile, highly-drafted rookie take the crown? We can call Sunday's game a clear win for Legarrette Blount, who displayed much improved running ability, had a good pickup on a blitz, and at least caught a ball. Blount was decisive and powerful with his running, and was consistently productive. His biggest problem in the past may have been inconsistency and indecisiveness, which led to too many negative runs, with a few big runs to offset those. The new, improved Blount looked like a much more capable runner, and one on which the team could build an offense.
That's not to say that Martin looked bad: he was quick, but a little less productive than Blount. He looked good in pass protection, and looked much more natural catching the ball, which means he's likely to win the third-down job. But it's clear that if he wants to be the starter, he has his work cut out for him.Starting tight end: Luke Stocker or Dallas Clark
This isn't a battle that has been given a lot of publicity so far, but it's certainly an important one. In a run-heavy offense, the tight end is very important as a blocker, and Stocker did a very good job against the Dolphins in that capacity. In addition, the second-year tight end caught one pass in traffic over the middle for 14 yards, which is more than he's done at any point previously. With Clark sidelined for no clear reason, Stocker took the lead in this position battle - especially so because Clark isn't all that productive as a runblocker in the first place.
Backup strong safety: Larry Asante or Cody Grimm
All throughout training camp it looked like Cody Grimm was on the bubble to make the team, running with the third-team defense at strong safety and seeing Larry Asante take the second-team reps. However, during Friday's game Mark Barron was sidelined, and Grimm took the starting job over Asante. Unfortunately for him, he may have given it away just as quickly: he missed two tackles and didn't look as explosive as a run defender as he looked during his first season. Meanwhile, Asante looked solid, if unspectacular, and didn't miss a single tackle. Grimm appears to be losing this battle, and may be losing his hold on a roster spot.