The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Jacksonville Jaguars tonight, and that should be a really good test for their defense. The Jaguars had an explosive albeit turnover-prone offense last year, and they've shown no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, the Bucs overhauled their struggling defense -- and they, too, looked good in their first preseason game.
Here are four players to watch in tonight's game.
DE Noah Spence
Spence had a field day last week, as he flashed repeatedly against the Phiadelphia Eagles. However, he wasn't lining up against the best talent in the world. The Jaguars don't have a dominant offensive line by any means, but they do have more talent than the Eagles. Spence in particular will be lining up against former top five pick Luke Joeckel -- and possibly free agent signing Kelvin Beachum as well. Neither of those is dominant, but they're certainly talented and should provide for an interesting challenge for the Bucs' second-round pick.
CB Vernon Hargreaves
Hargreaves had a largely non-descript debut for the Bucs, which isn't surprising: rookie defensive backs have a hard time adjusting to the NFL, let alone standing out in their first preseason game. Hargreaves should come on the field with the backups more than the starters, but he may see some time with the ones as a slot cornerback. Regardless, it's worth keeping an eye on him even when he doesn't get the ball thrown in his direction. How does he move, how does he mirror receivers, how does he break on the ball? Those are more relevant questions than whether he's making plays on the ball.
S Ryan Smith
The Bucs have been happy with Chris Conte so far, but according to Pewter Report, Bradley McDougald has been a disappointment for defensive coordinator Mike Smith. That may create some room for safety Ryan Smith, the team's fourth-round pick who played his college football at Coastal Carolina. He won't be ready to start at safety this year, but if McDougald disappoints, he sure could get a bunch of playing time anyway.
DT A.J. Francis
The Bucs could use some extra depth at defensive tackle, and Francis looked good in his first preseason game. If he can flash a couple of times, and hold up in run defense, he's got a good chance of making the roster. Also, he's not a rookie, so there's that -- watching rookies gets boring after a while.