The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been in training camp for three weeks. As the grind of training camp rolls on, teams tire of hitting one another and hitting their teammates in practice every day.
Tonight that will change as the Buccaneers take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the first preseason game of 2021.
Bruce Arians said that everyone is going to play. That means we will see Tom Brady for a series or two with the first-string offense.
All 11 defensive starters should start the game and play a series or two. Then it will be time to focus on the free agents and rookies.
Arians will be looking for those players that can help on special teams. It will be tough to break into the top 44 unless there is an injury.
In his press conference Thursday, Arians talked about the special teams’ impact. He said that you might not be one of the top six wide receivers or top linebackers. But if you can add value to special teams, you can earn yourself a roster spot on game day.
Special teams’ play, especially the return game, has been awful for the Bucs the last few years. Jaydon Mickens was so-so in the return game last year, but this year has some good competition.
Mickens is the number one returner on the depth chart for the first preseason game, with Darden right behind him at number two.
I am excited to see the rookie from North Texas, Jaelon Darden, get his chances tonight in the return game. He was electric in the punt return game at North Texas as he has a knack for making that first guy miss.
Darden will also get some looks as the slot receiver. Darden ran a 4.46 on his pro day and can pick up significant amounts of yards after the catch. He is also outstanding in crossing patterns and will get behind defenders quickly.
Quarterback Kyle Trask is excited to see his first NFL action tonight. According to Arians, Trask has performed well in camp, getting the offense lined up correctly, not jumping before the snap, and getting in and out of the huddle efficiently.
These are some things that Arians will be looking for tonight from Kyle Trask.
Blaine Gabbert, the number two quarterback, will come in after Brady, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be the third quarterback against the Bengals.
The team has already seen Ryan Griffin and knows what he can do and how he handles the offense. They have not seen that from Trask in a game situation. I would expect Trask to be number three tonight, possibly starting the second half.
Linebacker Joe Tryon, who has made some plays in practice, will get on the field after the first-team defense is done for the night. Tryon is second on the depth chart behind Shaq Barrett.
This will be the first live-action for Tryon since January of 2020, as he opted out of the 2020 season at Washington to prepare for the NFL draft.
One other key note about the depth chart for tonight’s game, Ronald Jones is the number one at running back.
Jones and Fournette are in a heated battle for who will be named the starter, with Giovanni Bernard and KeShawn Vaughan rounding out the top four spots.