The first-team offensive line
This will be the first game the Bucs should have the entire starting offensive line playing together. Donovan Smith, Logan Mankins, Evan Smith, Ali Marpet and Gosder Cherilus are all healthy and ready to go -- though the latter will be replaced by Demar Dotson at some point this season. That's good news, because any offensive line needs time together to learn to play well with each other. That's especially important on blitz pickup and responding to pass-rush games -- something the Bucs struggled with last game, and a major reason for most of the pressure Jameis Winston had to face.
The offensive linemen took a few big steps from game one to game two in their individual performance. Hopefully we can see them take some steps in their collective performance.
The Bucs hope Austin Seferian-Jenkins can turn into a key player on offense, but so far that hasn't happened. Seferian-Jenkins has struggled making contested catches, but that's exactly what he needs to do to earn a big role and prevent snaps from going to mediocre veterans like Brandon Myers. Today will be his last chance in preseason to show that he deserves the trust of the coaching staff as well as Jameis Winston -- if he can't, we may not see him on the field as much as we'd hope during the regular season.
Garrett Gilkey vs. Kadeem Edwards
From most-maligned player on the roster to starting right guard to roster bubble. Gilkey's had a weird preseason. His presence on the roster is far from secure, given that he's now repeatedly shown that he just can't be trusted to snap a ball -- or really block anyone after doing so. His play at offensive guard has undoubtedly improved, but so has Kadeem Edwards' -- and he's a former draft pick. The best bet Gilkey had at staying on the roster was to be versatile enough to be a swing interior lineman, but that boat seems to have sailed. He now needs to straight-up beat out Edwards -- and that's going to be a lot more difficult.
The Bucs are bringing in new specialists every week, and it's an actual roster battle now. Surprisingly, no one's really emerged as a winner. Karl Schmitz and Michael Koenen have both looked mediocre, so the team added Jacob Schum to that list this week. Patrick Murray has missed an extra point and two kicks this preseason, which led the team to re-sign Connor Barth.
The key to all of this won't necessarily be these players' performances as kickers and as punters, but as kickoff specialists. We know Michael Koenen can handle those duties, and we know Connor Barth has always struggled to do so. The other three players could surprise and take over kickoffs. The Bucs need to come out of these preseason games with a punter and a kicker, one of whom can handle kickoffs. It doesn't really matter which one -- and that's where this battle will be decided.
Bobby Rainey vs. Mike James
This may be the most intriguing position battle on the roster. By now, Doug Martin has earned has clearly earned a starting role and the team seems to really like Charles Sims as a rotational and third-down back. That leaves Bobby Rainey and Mike James fighting for the remaining touches. Last week, that meant nine carries for James versus one for Rainey, as James got the first- and second-down carries with the first team, while Rainey came in on third downs to work the passing game. Can either of the two clearly beat out the other and save the Bucs a roster spot, or are they going to go into the season with four running backs?