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Buccaneers vs. Dolphins final score: Bucs defense beats down Miami

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won their fourth preseason game, beating the Miami Dolphins 22-17 in a battle of the backups on both sides of the ball. The Bucs are now 2-2 in this preseason -- an improvement over last year's 1-3 outing. Hopefully that improvement carries over into the regular season, as the Bucs take on the Tennessee Titans in their first game on Sunday, September 13.

The Bucs defense looked pretty good in the first half, picking off McLeod Bethel-Thompson and generally stifling the Dolphins offense, outside of one touchdown drive where the run defense completely collapsed for some weird reason. In the second half the defense was a lot less stout, allowing the Dolphins to drive down the field -- but a 98-yard Khaseem Greene pick six made up for that.  Turnovers like that are

Meanwhile, Mike Glennon and the offense really struggled. The offensive line couldn't open up any holes in the running game, while Glennon threw two bad interceptions -- both poor throws and poor reads, finishing the first half completing 11 of 20 passes for 141 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Adam Humphries was the big star with four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown there, with Rannell Hall making a couple of big catches as well.

As the second-string made way for the third-string and the third-string made way for the fourth-string, both the Bucs' and the Dolphins' players on the roster bubble got some opportunities to shine, with several players taking advantage, hoping to survive Saturday's cuts down to a 53-man roster. Surprisingly, it seemed like Josh Freeman of all people would beat the Bucs, but two(!) last-minute Keith Tandy interceptions preserved the win for Tampa Bay.

Here are the main takeaways from tonight's game.

Bruce Carter lost the strongside competition, too

The Bucs brought in Bruce Carter to be their starting middle linebacker, a job he swiftly lost to Kwon Alexander. He then competed at strongside linebacker, a competition he's also lost: Carter started at middle linebacker with the backups today, while Danny Lansanah didn't get on the field. A sure sign Lansanah's a starter, while Carter is now a backup at two positions. Not a good look for someone being paid $4 million this year.

Charles Sims is a receiving back only

The Bucs have given Charles Sims plenty of chances to earn some carries this perseason, and he simply hasn't taken that opportunity. He looks slightly better as a runner than he did last year, but he's been clearly outshone by Doug Martin and even Mike James in that area. Today he managed to get 0 yards on five carries, which is pretty awful even with the useless blocking he got.

That said, he still is a capable receiving/third-down back and that will be his main job for the Bucs this year.

Kyle Brindza is your new kicker

Kyle Brindza clearly won the kicking job after the Bucs traded Tim Wright for him. He hit a touchback on his first kickoff, got his first point as a Buccaneer with a flawless PAT, then hit his second kickoff seven yards deep into the endzone, which the returner decided to take out anyway in rather masochistic fashion. To seal the deal, he hit a 57-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 55-yarder in the second quarter. From there it really didn't matter what anyone else did.

The one downside was that three of his kickoffs were returned in the first half, but that was primarily because players competing for  jobs decided to bring out some really deep kickoffs. Brindza wasn't really doing anything wrong. That also means the Bucs don't need to ask Jacob Schum to handle kickoffs. He can concentrate on punting, which he did pretty well today.

What's going on in the defensive backfield?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put their backups on the field at basically every position, except for one: the defensive backfield. Alterraun Verner, Johnthan Banks, Mike Jenkins, D.J. Swearinger, Major Wright and Chris Conte all got playing time there early in the game. Which is interesting, given that Verner's definitely starting while one of Swearinger, Wright and Conte are too. And McDougald couldn't play because he was injured. Also notable: Keith Tandy got into the action on the third series, so he's probably making the roster too.

We know that Verner and Banks will start at cornerback, and we know that McDougald will too. But why were they getting playing time? And who's going to be the second starting safety? The fact that Keith Tandy and Chris Conte got playing time with the third-string defense too might be telling, but we don't really know! Nobody knows!

Garrett Gilkey is probably gone -- to injured reserve

The Bucs ran with Edawn Coughman, Matthew Masifilo, Jeremiah Warren, Kadeem Edwards and Reid Fragel. Notice any names missing? Garrett Gilkey and Patrick Omameh, who both actually started games last year, were not with that group. Which strongly implies that they're going to be among the cuts this Saturday. As for the rest of that line, it's likely that two of the interior linemen make the roster, in addition to either Coughman or Fragel. That's how the numbers work out.

It wasn't looking good for Garrett Gilkey to begin with, and then he had to be carted off the field with a leg injury in the second quarter as well, which basically ended his diminishing chances of making the roster. To injured reserve he goes, or possibly to being released with an injury settlement.

Adam Humphries probably earned a roster spot

Adam Humphries got a lot of playing time early in the game. He was given a lot of opportunities to stand out both as a receiver and a punt returner, and he did reasonably well with the opportunities he was given. The Bucs have room for a sixth receiver on the roster, if he can also be useful on special teams. Humphries managed four catches for a whopping 62 yards and a touchdown, consistently beating defenders from the slot and looking decent as a punt and kick returner.

With Humphries also being a diminutive guy he brings something new to the Bucs receiving corps. Of course, carrying six receivers may be a little overambitious, and the Bucs don't appear willing to cut the currently injured Kenny Bell, but they don't have a good alternative beyond Humphries. Especially given the fact that Kaelin Clay has looked pretty awful this preseason.

Helping Humphries is the fact that Rannell Hall struggled to get open and catch the ball early, while Donteea Dye didn't get onto the field until later in the game. They still gave him a run for his money, though, managing two catches for 36 yards in the first half, while Donteea Dye added two for 36 yards. Still, Humphries was undoubtedly the star of the first half. Hall did put up a few more catches in the second half, though, including a big 26-yard back-shoulder catch to start the third quarter.

Bobby Rainey slid ahead of Mike James

The second back to get carries today was Bobby Rainey and not Mike James. That's a little surprising, given that James got into the game ahead of Rainey consistently the past few games. Charles Sims couldn't get anything going, leaving the game with 0 yards after five carries. Rainey wasn't explosive, but he did at least gain some yards: 19 on eight carries. Meanwhile, Mike James managed six yards on three carries in the first half -- though he did pop off a 25-yarder in the second half. It was not a good night for the team's run blocking, as you may be able to tell.

More injuries at defensive end

Another hit to the team's pass rush: T.J. Fatinikun, who's missed most of the preseason with injury too, had to leave the game with a shoulder injury, and his return was quickly ruled out. He was projected to be the first defensive end off the bench before the preseason, but these injuries have to throw even his presence on the roster into question. Which is good news for Lawrence Sidbury Jr. and William Gholston, both of whom looked solid again this game.

In the third quarter, Larry English went down with what seemed to be a major injury on a cut block. He wasn't overly likely to make the roster anyway, but it looks like he may be headed to injured reserve -- which hurts the Bucs' pass rush, if only because they have fewer options now.

Mike Glennon showed why he's not starting

Jameis Winston has been uneven this preseason, which led to some people calling for Mike Glennon to start. We know what he is after all: mediocre. I think today probably ended all that talk. Glennon threw two terrible interceptions in the first half, and basically couldn't complete a pass that wasn't to Adam Humphries -- and that wasn't because really because his receivers weren't helping him. Glennon's better than what he showed today, but he's also not the better option between him and Winston.

Khaseem Greene made a case for himself

Linebacker Khaseem Greene was picked up off waivers this offseason but has been an afterthought during the preseason. He made a terrific play in the third quarter with a 98-yard pick touchdown off a beautiful diving interception. In a previous game he had a big forced fumble to prevent a touchdown as well, and splash plays like that get you recognized. He may be the team's fifth or sixth linebacker, as he's competing for those spots with Jason Williams. Special teams is usually the deciding factor at that position, but big plays certainly help.