Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Storylines to Follow at Joint Practices

A few things to keep an eye on when the Browns travel to Tampa for joint training camp practices with the Bucs.

A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' preseason game against the Jaguars.

1. A new look for the Bucs' defensive line.
In the Bucs' preseason opener against the Eagles, the defensive line was dominant. The unit picked up four sacks and was applying pressure consistently. During joint training camp practices in Jacksonville last week, the Bucs' defensive linemen performed well and appeared poised for another big game. But on game day, the Bucs recorded just one sack, and it was a linebacker who took down the quarterback. It's worth noting, though, that Gerald McCoy did not play against Jacksonville. It will be interesting to see how the unit performs against the Browns in practice and how, or if, that carries over into the game on Friday. 

2. A different style quarterback.
Although Jameis Winston tied a Buccaneer record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback last season, he's not considered a dual-threat quarterback. Blake Bortles, who the Bucs faced a week ago, can move the chains with his feet, but neither he nor Sam Bradford, who the Bucs faced in Week 1 of the preseason, present the challenges that Cleveland quarterback Robert Griffin III does. The Buccaneers have Cam Newton on their schedule twice, along with Russell Wilson and Alex Smith, all of whom are excellent runners. Keep an eye on how the Bucs' defense responds to the Browns' dual-threat quarterback, who has three rushes for 36 yards so far this preseason.

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  1. Guarding Josh Gordon and the Browns' receivers.**
    The Browns have an interesting group of wide receivers with Gordon, Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman. Although Gordon is listed at the bottom of the depth chart, he has reportedly been taking reps with the first-team offense. Coleman was a player who many considered to be the best wide receiver in this year's draft while Pryor, a quarterback-turned-receiver, has been one of the most productive pass-catchers in the league this preseason. In two games, Pryor is averaging 35.7 yards per reception, including hauling in a 50-yard touchdown from Griffin. There's no question that the Bucs' defensive backs will be in for a challenge.

4. The health of the Bucs' offensive line.
On Monday, the Buccaneers signed rookie offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson to add some depth to a position group that Head Coach Dirk Koetter referred to as being, "banged up." While the Bucs' starting five offensive linemen have remained fairly healthy, the team has been without J.R. Sweezy and draft pick Calab Benenoch, for the majority of camp. Time is ticking for the Buccaneers to narrow their 90-man roster down to 53. It will be interesting to see when these players return and how their being sidelined affects which players make the final roster.

5. Mike Evans vs. Joe Haden.
This will be one of the marquee matchups during both joint practices and during Friday's game. Haden is a two-time Pro Bowler and former second-team All-Pro, while Evans set a Buccaneer record for receiving touchdowns as a rookie and has recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Evans has had success against Haden and the Browns in the past. In their 2014 matchup, Evans caught seven passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Keep an eye on whether or not Haden follows Evans during practice or if he plays exclusively on one side of the field.

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