Friday, August 11, 2006

Bucs look solid in Pre-Seas Opener

It was nice to have a night off from the stress of the pennant race with a good ole' meaningless pre-season NFL game. The Bucs (or at least a reasonable facsimile of the team) took on the NY J-E-T-S, who actually seemed to take the game seriously for a quarter and 1/2 or so. I mean, they played Chad Pennington into the second quarter, and I think Laverneus Coles had more receptions than he had in his first season with the Redskins.

But even though Chad and the Jets were treating the game as if their jobs were on the line (oh, wait a minute, they were), they could not penetrate the Bucs Red Zone defense. The Jets marched straight down the field on their opening drive, but after getting to the TB 36 yd line, they had to settle for a punt. Too bad the Bucs first drive was amnemic, featuring a false start penalty on Michael Clayton and a personal foul facemask call on rookie stud OL Davin Joseph.They didn't make it past their own 26, and that was all we would see from the first string. Well, we didn't see ANY of Cadillac or Galloway , so take what you will from that drive.

But the next drive produced the first points of the game, as backup wannabe Tim Rattay drove the team 73 yds in 15 plays leading to a Matt Bryant 25-yd FG and a 3-0 lead.

By now things were starting to get pretty dull, but luckily my buddy JT has sweet seats 5 rows from the field, so we had something to take our mind off the actual game:

When action resumed, the Bucs second & third stringers were in the game, and they actually performed fairly well. QB Bruce Gradkowski more than held his own against the Jets garbage-timers, going 11-13, 104 yds & 2 TDs. 2006 draft pick WR Maurice Stovall (3 recs, 21 yds, 1TD) looked good, and 2005 pre-season phenom Ernest Graham ran for 69 yds and had 37 yds receiving; the Bucs outgained New York on the ground, 167- 44.

All in all a decent showing for the preseason; Simms and the starting O didn't do much, but draft picks Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood and Stovall all held played well, especially with Joseph & Trueblood getting the surprise starts and leading the rushing attack (Joseph also recovered 2 fumbles by Happy Feet Pittman). Graham made another push for more carries in the regular season, and A-Train, who was relgated to being the player on a preseason ticket, ran hard in his cameo. Just your typical meaningless preseason game, unless you're an NFL coach, Fantasy Football geek, 3rd-stringer or degenerate gambler.

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