With the preseason coming to an end, there are still a lot of things to look out for in the third and final week of exhibition games against the Colts. Todd Bowles told the media earlier this week that everyone who is healthy will play in this game so expect to see a lot of the starters in this dress rehearsal so let’s get into some players to keep an eye on Saturday night.
Ahhh yes, of course Brady has to be on this list because he has been the talk of camp. After an 11-day hiatus from the team, Brady returned to practice on Monday and will be starting the game in Indy. All eyes will be on him and how he gels with his receivers as well as the re-shaped offensive line that includes two inexperienced players in center Robert Hainsey and guard Luke Goedeke.
The stat sheet doesn’t really matter with a guy like Brady, but it will be nice to see him in action for the first time since the 2021-22 season ended especially after the crazy offseason he had.
Just as much as Brady needs to gel with his receivers, a player like Jones will benefit from gelling with his new quarterback. One of the biggest downsides to having Brady absent for a few practices was that he was missing valuable reps with a player like Julio Jones. Jones has had his issues with injuries over the past few seasons, but now looks finally healthy and Bucs fans will get their first look at Jones in action and in a Bucs uniform on Saturday night.
In what could be his last game as a Buccaneer, this could very well be Miller’s final chance to show that he belongs on the roster because right now he is firmly on the bubble. It’s a shame because it’s not all Miller’s fault. A lot of it is the nature of the beast and this is the price to pay to have as good depth at receiver that Tampa Bay does. Miller has talent and could fill a nice role on a team, but is that team the Buccaneers? Tyler Johnson has seemingly locked down the fifth receiver spot with a stellar camp and preseason and Jaelon Darden is only entering year two, so Miller could very well be the odd man out unless he can make some big plays vs the Colts.
Fatukasi has been one of the standouts on the defensive side of the ball in camp and that success has translated into the preseason games. The undrafted rookie linebacker has led the team in tackles in both preseason games thus far. He is really making a strong case to make the roster and it will be interesting to see how he plays on Saturday as well as how much he plays. Fatukasi has had a great few weeks, let’s see if he can end the preseason on another high note.
Another undrafted rookie, safety Nolan Turner has flashed at times in camp, making splash plays and even picking off Tom Brady in practice but he could be facing an uphill battle to make the roster because of the numbers game. Tampa Bay essentially has four safeties locked into roster spots with Antoine Winfield Jr, Mike Edwards and newcomers Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal. It is up to Turner to shine on Saturday night to force the coaching staff to keep five safeties on the roster. If Turner does not make the final 53, he could be a candidate for the practice squad.
Real football that counts is right around the corner, folks. Todd Bowles did not say how long the starters would be playing on Saturday night, but they will be out there one last time before heading to Dallas for a clash with the Cowboys. The biggest goal for these preseason games should be to stay as healthy as possible, but it would be nice to see the starters have some success against another quality football team.