Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians didn’t mix words when talking about the status of his roster at this point in the preseason when he said, “It would be easy to cut down to 60 right now, for me. But, again, we’ve got the preseason games coming up and maybe guys can show up more when the lights come on than they have in practice.”
We aren’t going to list all thirty or so guys we feel are on the outside looking in, but we can go through and pick out a handful who will be fighting to climb up the list, or fighting to seal their spot in the top sixty.
RIGHT GUARD, ALEX CAPPA
I really expected this to be a bigger fight than it has been. Cappa ran with the first team against the Pittsburgh Steelers and nothing has changed heading into Week 2 against the Dolphins.
The offensive starters looked good in their only series last Friday, and if they look solid again in the first drive this week then we likely won’t see them much after that - if at all. And this is great for Cappa. He may not be a Pro Bowl caliber right guard, but he’s yet to look like a glaring weak spot, giving all of us the ability to shift our gaze elsewhere.
It’s easy to see Cappa is one of the sixty who would survive the Arians snap - in this version only 33% of the population (on the Bucs roster) disappears.
Another solid outing and we may be ready to crown Cappa as our starting right guard for the 2019 season.
SAFETY, DARIAN STEWART
If you see No. 27 running around on defense Friday night it’s not because the Bucs are trying out Ronald Jones at safety. New free-agent acquisition Darian Stewart has been wearing the same jersey number since his signing was made public on Tuesday morning.
The veteran comes to Tampa Bay after last being seen in a Broncos uniform, and something fans should feel good about is that Denver moved on from him because of money and a youth movement in their secondary, not talent.
In fact, Stewart was on the field with the second-team defense on Wednesday as the Bucs and Dolphins wrapped up their joint practices. Afterwards, he expressed to me that he felt good with the limited exposure he’s had in the system and with the team and does expect to play Friday, although obviously not as much as he likely will in Week 3 or even Week 4 leading up to the regular season.
With Justin Evans and Mike Edwards both sitting out practices all week with injuries, it was important for the team to stabilize the back end of their defense. Despite having just one day to study and watch his teammates on the field, Stewart looked confident and never looked out of place during practice on Wednesday. A good sign that this is a good fit.
RUNNING BACK, DARE OGUNBOWALE
Could the Bucs keep four running backs? Yes. Could they keep three? Yes. It’s up to Dare Ogunbowale to show the team he can bring value to the field worthy of keeping a fourth running back.
It’s not so much the depth at his position which is holding him up, but more so the depth across the offense. Coach Arians has gone on record already saying Ryan Griffin gives him reasons to keep a third quarterback on the active roster. There’s a lot of potential in the young wide receiver group and if any go to the practice squad they might get poached. Tanner Hudson is giving us a reason to look at four tight ends as a good idea. And the team will always need offensive line depth.
There are a lot of decisions to be made. Ogunbowale looked good against Pittsburgh and has looked solid for much of camp. He’s working feverishly on his pass blocking and looks improved as a receiver. A strong showing against Miami will start to make some of these depth decisions real difficult for the team,
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN, RAKEEM NUNEZ-ROCHES
Todd Bowles and his defensive scheme’s arrival to Tampa has been a blessing to many Buccaneers defenders. Rakeem Nunez-Roches is one of them.
This style of defensive play suits his talents much better than what he played in during the 2018 season after coming to the Bucs from Kansas City.
Nunez-Roches grabbed some attention in Pittsburgh for his solid play, and he carried the momentum into this week’s practices both against the Dolphins and before they arrived.
He put an exclamation mark on the last practice of the week before the game Friday night by bursting through the Miami offensive line and stopping their running back dead in his tracks during goal line drills.
This Friday night is another opportunity for this defensive lineman to show up and show out. Expect nothing less.
KICKER, MATT GAY
Our only repeat from last week is Tampa Bay Buccaneers fifth-round rookie kicker, Matt Gay.
You’ll have to forgive me. It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to write good things in consecutive weeks about a kicker on this team, so I’m going to take advantage.
Before arriving to training camp to see it for myself I heard tales of how powerful Gay’s leg really was. And I can now confirm, the stories are true.
Look, we don’t know what’s going to ultimately happen here, but I do know that unless Gay just suddenly forgets how to kick a football - which unfortunately happens sometimes - he isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Game situations are much different than practice. Even when you practice against an opponent it’s still practice and nobody is diving at your leg in practice.
In the game is the only way we can truly gauge whether or not Gay is what we think he might be. So of course, we’ll be watching.
Last week, Alex Cappa was our Bucs Nation selected sixth-man to watch earning 52% of the vote! He did well by his voters. So let’s see who you all pick for this week.
Who’s the sixth player we should be watching when the Buccaneers play the Dolphins?
This poll is closed
WR, Spencer Schnell
OLB, Noah Spence
TE, Antony Auclair
CB, Sean Murphy-Bunting
CB, Mazzi Wilkins