In their 34-3 preseason loss to the Titans Saturday night, the Buccaneers were evaluating the players fighting for roster spots. Some performed well, many others did not.
Head coach Bruce Arians didn’t hide his disappointment following the game, but did make sure to acknowledge those that did play well.
“Too many dropped passes to start ball games – that kills drives,” Arians said. “Defensively, I thought we had a really good start to the game in the trenches and then as the reserves started coming in we misfit a couple runs. Overall, you grade the tape. You either get exposed or exposure. Some guys really stepped up. Pat O’Connor showed, Grant [Stuard] showed a little bit, Dee Delaney showed a little bit. Not too many guys offensively. Cyril [Grayson] showed up a little bit having been hurt all week with an injury. We’ll grade the tape and see who really played on special teams.”
He saw the game live from the sidelines, but when Arians evaluates the tape he will see the drops from several players once again. One of those being tight end O.J. Howard.
Howard is looking to return to full form this season after missing nearly all of 2020 due to an Achilles injury. However, despite the drops during their 34-3 loss, Arians says he isn’t concerned with Howard but acknowledges that the young tight end has a lot of rust he is trying to shake off.
“O.J [Howard] stays on the JUGS machine so that’s not helping him. The JUGS is just more confidence building for when you’re standing still and catching a ball. It’s not what you’re doing when you are playing, it’s running and catching a ball. You just have to make the plays. Like I said, if it was Mike [Evans], Chris [Godwin], [Antonio Brown] then I would worry about it. O.J’s shaking off a hell of a lot rust.”
Preseason is a time to ensure any rust is removed. Unfortunately, there’s just one game left to iron out any issues and time is certainly against those trying to make the roster — or catch the football.