The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play their final preseason game of the year on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys. Then, over the weekend the roster will be trimmed.
It’s the last time some of these Bucs will have a chance to make cutting them a hard thing to do, so let’s get set to watch the guys with the biggest chances of doing so.
TIGHT END, TANNER HUDSON
Low-hanging fruit, maybe, but Tanner Hudson has been a player worth watching all preseason. At this point, I don’t know if it’s possible for the Buccaneers to sneak him onto the practice squad, but has he done enough to land on the active roster to start the season?
He certainly has ball skills and the ability to sort through traffic to find open spaces for his quarterback. This much is known.
What isn’t known is whether or not his blocking and special teams contributions are going to be enough to keep him on the team.
So while we’ll all be watching to see the next great catch or next big gain from Hudson, it’s special teams and blocking that are ultimately going to solidify his spot, or raise questions about his retainability.
CORNERBACK, MAZZI WILKINS
Mazzi Wilkins was always a long shot to make the Buccaneers roster. Vernon Hargreaves III, Carlton Davis III, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean were all penned onto the roster from the jump. Ryan Smith is a special teams stud who has flashed some improved coverage ability, so despite his suspension to start the year, he isn’t likely going to be leaving the team anytime soon.
M.J. Stewart was originally moved to safety this off-season but has apparently moved back to cornerback, although his spot on the team may not be as secure as others.
Still, Wilkins is going to have to make some splash plays against the Cowboys if he’s going to replace one of these guys, and even then, he may be auditioning for other teams more than he is fighting for a Bucs roster spot.
As a local product though, many people who watch the Bucs have been keeping one eye on Wilkins, so even if he plays his way onto another roster there’s a high probability Tampa Bay fans will be watching.
GUARD, ZACH BAILEY
Zach Bailey was an early dark horse favorite for Buccaneers.com Editor and Senior Writer, Scott Smith to make the roster as an undrafted free-agent.
Given the struggles of the second-team offensive line, it’s going to be hard to justify keeping any of the depth pieces at this point, but we know the Bucs are going to have to keep one or two of them.
So, for guys like Bailey, this final game is an opportunity to show they’re the bright spot on a dark unit.
It’s hard sometimes not to watch the ball as a fan observing your favorite team. But for those truly worried about the offensive line, especially in depth, lookout for No. 61 this Thursday night.
SAFETY, JUSTIN EVANS
It’s been a little bit since we saw Justin Evans suit up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, and even longer since we saw him do so healthy.
Evans has been cleared to practice and hopes to play against the Dallas Cowboys. Earlier this year Arians’ comments on Evans were blunt and to the point as the safety had yet to show the staff anything they could use to determine if he was a fit for their system.
The comments were taken a certain kind of way, and the Evans’ status with the team was brought into question shortly afterwards.
Then, the emergence of rookie Mike Edwards clouded things. Jordan Whitehead’s solid performance this preseason has crowded the depth charts, the signing of Darian Stewart has complicated things, and the performance of Kentrell Brice is going to make this safety group hard to sort out.
At this point Evans has only his past to support his position on the roster and with the team. Thursday - if he gets on the field - will be his best opportunity to show Todd Bowles and Arians that he can be a featured member of their defense in 2019 and beyond.
Those are my players to watch, but I need one more. Who are you watching when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 of the NFL Preseason?
Who is our fifth player to watch against the Dallas Cowboys?
This poll is closed
QB, Vinny Testaverde, Jr.
DL, Terry Beckner, Jr.
LB, Jack Cichy
RB, Bruce Anderson