Things got off to a less than exciting start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their second preseason game of the year as they hosted the Miami Dolphins on a sloppy, rain soaked field at Raymond James Stadium.
Prior to the game we identified five players to watch, and Bucs Nations readers voted on a sixth to watch. Let’s take a look at all six and review their first home game of the 2019 NFL year.
RIGHT GUARD, ALEX CAPPA
For what it’s worth, Alex Cappa’s name won’t be grabbing a whole lot of headlines this weekend. And that’s a big win for the team.
Right guard was a huge question mark entering the off-season, and it didn’t really get answered all that clearly entering training camp. Since then however, Cappa has appeared to solidify his claim on the starting job.
He only got one drive on the field, but it’s all the first-team offense needed after a solid week of practice against these same Dolphins.
The important part was they got off healthy, meaning we’ll get a third week of Cappa as your starting right guard for the Bucs.
SAFETY, DARIAN STEWART
Sooner or later we’ll get a picture of Darian Stewart in a Tampa Bay uniform. For now though, we’ll settle for what we have.
What we got out of Stewart this week was more than anybody likely expected. One tackle and two quarterback hits doesn’t sound like much, but this guy has only been on the team since Tuesday. Seriously, I’ve been to more Buccaneers practices than he has.
When I asked him on Wednesday if he thought he’d play Friday night, he said he thought he would play a couple of series. Then, it was reported later he didn’t think he’d play at all.
In the end, he played. And he played a lot. And he played well, especially given how little time he’s had to pick up the language of the defense.
It’s a promising beginning for Stewart who will likely start challenging fellow safety Kentrell Brice, at least until Mike Edwards and/or Justin Evans returns from their respective injuries.
RUNNING BACK, DARE OGUNBOWALE
Dare Ogunbowale finished the team’s first preseason game as the leading rusher, and scored a touchdown as well.
In practice this past week, he’s been working extensively on his pass catching and pass blocking. While his blocking hasn’t caught up with his catching just yet, both are getting better.
On Friday night, Ogunbowale was at it again and finished with 88 all-purpose yards on sixteen touches. And this is without the big play he had negated by a ‘holding’ penalty.
He didn’t get into the end zone this week, but he certainly got into the hearts and minds of Buccaneers fans. Oh, and he probably caught even more attention from his coaches.
Andre Ellington got on the field before Ogunbowale, but following a fumble by the veteran, it was Dare who showed more on the field. Hard to think this team won’t be taking Ogunbowale into the regular season at this point.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN, RAKEEM NUNEZ-ROCHES
There was some concern about the depth along the defensive front not too long ago. But now, some of those worries can be put to rest.
Rakeem Nunez-Roches has not only taken his increased opportunity and done good work with it, he got himself on the field with the first-team defense Friday night.
If you needed more evidence this player is making waves, that should be enough. If not, go back and watch the game again. Nunez-Roches ate blocks, controlled gaps and got penetration throughout the evening when on the field.
The stat sheet will say he got one tackle. The film will say he was a big reason for the team’s success in this match-up.
KICKER, MATT GAY
All smiles as Bucs rookie kicker Matt Gay comes off the field after hitting a game-winner from 48 with 0:03 left. pic.twitter.com/5FzUvBMMHL— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 17, 2019
Matt Gay hit the longest field goal in Heinz Field history last week - or tied it - I’ve heard it both ways.
This week, he nailed his first game-winning field goal of his career.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, you have yourself a kicker.
FAN VOTED: OUTSIDE LINEBACKER, NOAH SPENCE
Noah Spence impressed with his performance in the first week of the preseason. In Week 2, the first team defense stayed on a little longer than expected and Spence came up with an assist on a tackle.
Fans hoping to see even more from the fourth year player are going to have to wait until preseason Week 3, and perhaps even into the regular season depending on just how much Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers choose to put on film against Cleveland next week.
Bottom line is, Spence is much better suited to play in this defensive system than he was in Mike Smith’s. He may not have leaped off the television screen or shown up big on the stat sheet, but Spence is in line for a solid 2019 if he can stay healthy.
BONUS REVIEW: TIGHT END, TANNER HUDSON
We didn’t get to see a whole lot out of Cappa and Spence, so I decided to throw in a bonus Bucs player who we saw plenty of.
Tanner Hudson might be the second-most popular player in Tampa right now, only because Matt Gay drilled a game winning field goal in a kicker starved town.
As the leading receiver for the home team, Hudson brough in six catches on seven targets and amassed 93-yards and a touchdown.
He and Ryan Griffin connected on the last Tampa Bay possession of the night twice to set up Gay’s game winning 48-yard field goal.
To echo the words of Bucs Nation’s own Bailey Adams,
“He has played himself into the TE3 role. Easily.”
What stood out to you in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Week 2 preseason win over the Miami Dolphins, and what are you hoping to see out of the team in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns?