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Arians focusing on depth, practice squad battles

The Buccaneers head coach gave plenty of updates in his second post-game media session of the preseason.

NFL: AUG 21 Preseason - Titans at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While fan discussion is likely to drift toward Tampa’s overall poor performance in the team’s 34-3 defeat against the Tennessee Titans Saturday, Bruce Arians kept his sights forward.

Buccaneers head coach provided some more insights as the last preseason game, as well as final cuts, creep closer.

  • Arians commented quite a bit on the offensive line depth, as he did acknowledge Aaron Stinnie nipping at Alex Cappa for the starting right guard spot but squashed any talk of it being a serious competition.

““Yeah, I mean it’s closer than you might think. [Aaron] Stinnie played really well in the playoffs. And [Alex] Cappa, he needs to play some because he missed all that time. It’s a nice thing to have. It’s a good situation. It’s a great competition. Yeah, there’s a little bit of a battle but it’s Cap’s job to lose.”

Furthermore, singled out a few names as the battle for the last OL backup spots reach their conclusion.

“Well, I think the top three guys – [Aaron] Stinnie, Josh Wells and Nick [Leverett] all showed what they could do. Brad Seaton played better. He played better and played right and left [tackle]. [I’d] like to get [John] Molchon back out there; he was doing really well before he got injured. We know what Earl [Watford] is. So everybody else, they’re still fighting. Those guys showed me last night that we have good solid depth there.”

Leverett, who has earned praise throughout training camp, earned praise for the versatility he has displayed.

“It’s a great thing to be that position-flexible, especially if you want to dress on Sunday. One thing about Nick, he’s a tremendous effort player, a very smart player. Yeah, if you can play five positions you’ve got a great chance to dress on Sundays.”

  • Arians talked about how the most recent round of cuts didn’t pose much trouble, but the coaching staff is preparing itself for harder decisions ahead.

“Not really,” Arians said when asked if any cuts were difficult. “They had great opportunities last night to show what they can do. So, no. The next ones the hardest. When you release that many guys, then you hold your breath to hopefully get some of them back on our practice squad. Our practice squad is a lot of the jobs that are up for grabs, and those guys played a lot for us last year, being able to elevate them on game day with those new rules. So our practice squad is extremely important to us.”

  • Arians commented further on the battles for special teams and the practice squad.

“There’s some good battles that are going to go into next week. Like I [said], the battles for this practice squad are getting really rough. And we leaned on our practice squad last year helping us, so that’s where most of the jobs are right now.”

  • Todd Bowles received kudos for getting first rounder Joe Tryon-Shoyinka involved in the edge rusher rotation ahead of the season. Tryon-Shoyinka has flashed tremendously throughout training camp and the first two preseason games.

“Yeah [Defensive Coordinator] Todd [Bowles] has done a great job of creating plays and creating matchups. The game will depend. If it’s a running game, a running team, maybe not as much. If it’s a passing situation he’s going to play a bunch. There’s situations where I could see in the future, down the road, where we have all three of them (Tryon-Shoyinka, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Shaq Barrett) out there.”

  • Arians offered strong praise for this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, linebacker Grant Stuard. Stuard finished with 6 tackles and a sack.

“He made a nice move. He was very, very productive in that ballgame. He aligned himself better to be more successful. Grant is a very bright guy, so he takes coaching extremely well. We’ll do some things to help on special teams, but I like the way he plays the game.”

  • With the first-team offense expected to see significant snaps in the last preseason game with the Houston Texans, Arians talked about what he expects out of them in their tuneup ahead of the regular season opener.

“I just want to see game speed, real game speed, which we haven’t really had yet. Six plays doesn’t get it for you. But those practices were game speed, as much as practice can be. It’s still practice; nobody’s hitting you or those type of things. We need to go out there and play game speed and play to our potential, which I haven’t seen, especially the first quarter. I want to see us get off to better starts.”