The Buccaneers preseason is officially underway as they dropped the first game to the Miami Dolphins by a score of 26-24. While it shows up as a loss, there were still more positives than negatives from Saturday night’s game. Let's get into who stood out in this one.
Quarterback, Kyle Trask
It was just a few days ago that I wrote about Trask needing to have a good preseason and show progress from year one to year two and he did just that vs Miami.
Overall, it was pretty encouraging what Trask showed on Saturday night as he made multiple timing and rhythm throws and even led a two minute drill to get them into field goal range for the potential game winner. The second year signal caller played all but the first two series of the game and ended the night going 25/33 for 258 yards with one touchdown along with an interception and a fumble. Despite the two turnovers, there was a lot more positive from Trask and let’s hope this performance is something that he can build on and continue to progress.
Wide Receiver, Tyler Johnson
Johnson started the game off hot and continued it with some nice contested catches and was able to pick up a few yards after the catch as well which was not something he always showcased.
It is an important camp and preseason for Johnson as the Bucs are going to face some tough decisions in the receiver room when final cuts need to be made. There is a good chance that Tampa Bay will have to let go of one or two notable names in that room but vs the Dolphins, Johnson showed why he should be a strong candidate to stick around. He managed to catch six passes for 73 yards and despite having one drop, really shined in this game as he looks to make the roster.
Wide Receiver, Jerreth Sterns
Another receiver who is looking to potentially make the final roster is an undrafted free agent rookie in Jerreth Sterns. Throughout the night, Sterns showed flashes but the highlight was a fantastic catch in the endzone for a touchdown. Sterns showed great concentration and hands on that play and he will need to make more plays like that to stick around either on the final roster or the practice squad. Sterns had 4 catches for 51 yards and one touchdown.
Linebacker, Olakunle Fatukasi
One more undrafted free agent rookie shined as Fatukasi led the team in tackles with 6 total. Fatukasi played a good bit of the second half and was in on a lot of plays. The rookie out of Rutgers flashed and showed some nice things. With Kevin Minter not returning, the Bucs could use some inside linebacker depth and Fatukasi could potentially be a pleasant surprise. Let’s see if this performance allows him to get more playing time in next week’s game against Tennessee. Regardless, an encouraging start for the young linebacker.
Linebacker, Anthony Nelson
The fourth year outside linebacker is expected to play a bigger role for Tampa Bay in 2022 with Jason Pierre-Paul not returning. Throughout his career, Nelson has shown steady improvement every year and he appears to be off to a good start to this campaign. He was able to make a nice tackle in the backfield for a loss of yards then just a few plays later came up with a sack on third down to force Miami to attempt a long field goal. If Nelson can continue to progress, that would go a long way in helping this team’s pass rush and his production in the preseason may lead to the team not needing to spend resources on a veteran pass rusher. So far, so good for Anthony Nelson.
There still is a lot of preseason and training camp to go and there were a couple more players that flashed, but when watching these were the guys that really stood out. Let’s see if any of these guys can make it on the list next week as the Bucs travel to Tennessee for joint practices with the Titans before playing them on Saturday night.