The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face their new friends the New England Patriots this evening. Unfortunately the game is blacked out locally, but will be rebroadcast late tonight at 11:35 on WTSP-TV. If you can't catch that one it will be shown tomorrow at 9:00am on WTSP's digital weather channel or Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on the NFL Network.
If you're one of the lucky 25,000 going to the game tonight here are ten things to keep an eye out for:
1. Can Josh Freeman finally get some type of connection going with the newly acquired Vincent Jackson?
- Although Freeman and Jackson seemed to be on the same page during training camp, the connection hasn't really manifested itself in the first two preseason games. Look for these two to hook up on a long pass attempt or two tonight with extended play by the first team offense.
2. Will Myron Lewis continue to be unimpressive?
- Myron Lewis was the talk of training camp this year. Thus far his two game performances have been less than stellar. Will we finally see what all the hype was about tonight?
3. Will Cody Grimm continue his free fall down the depth chart?
- At this point it seems that Larry Asante is clearly the favorite over Grimm for the back up strong safety position. Grimm has looked outmatched thus far in the preseason. If his poor play continues, it's fairly likely that Grimm could find himself cut on Monday. Strange to say that about a player that was almost universally praised in his first two seasons.
4. Will Demar Dotson truly push Jeremy Trueblood for the starting right tackle position?
- At this point everyone knows what the Buccaneers have in Trueblood. A player that is solid in run blocking, semi-adequate at pass blocking, and loses focus way too often, thus incurring penalties. It's great that he and Davin Joseph and are so buddy-buddy, but if Dotson can play equally as well as Trueblood after the ball is snapped, he is a better and much cheaper option.
5. How will the young linebackers hold up against the New England tight ends?
- Lavonte David and Mason Foster will be put to the test tonight as they will no doubt be asked to routinely cover two of the best tight ends in the game.
6. Will Doug Martin continue to surge forward as the team's best rushing option?
- Doug Martin has looked impressive thus far in the preseason, flashing both speed and decisiveness. If he could manage to break a long run or two tonight he may be able to cement his position as the number one back and officially pass up Blount on the depth chart.
7. How will Legarrette Blount look after his injury last week?
- Can a first round rookie draft pick breathing down your neck motivate you to come back from an injury a little quicker than you normally would? I think so. We're curious to see how Blount looks on that injured groin tonight if he does play.
8. Will Gary Gibson or Frank Okam distinguish themselves and lock up the spot behind Roy Miller.
- If either of these guys could show something promising, I think Buc fans everywhere would breathe a sigh of relief.
9. Will the Buccaneers defense exhibit any type of pass rush whatsoever?
- The Bucs have one sack during the preseason, and it didn't come from the defensive line, actually coming courtesy of pass rush specialist Dekoda Watson. If they can get to any of the Patriots quarterbacks tonight against a superb pass protecting offensive line, consider it a win.
10. Will Greg Schiano and Bill Belichick hug each other after the game, or just shake hands?
- Okay, I ran out of things to watch for after nine, but ten has such a better ring to it.