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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Things We Learned from the Preseason

A few takeaways from the Buccaneers' four preseason games.

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

1. It doesn't matter who "starts" on the defensive line.
The Buccaneers have a base defense with Will Gholston and Robert Ayers on the edge and Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald at tackle. That unit usually lines on up first and second down. Those players will technically be considered the "starters" but throughout the preseason, the Buccaneers had success using several different combinations along the defensive line. Don't be surprised to see Jacquies Smith, Noah Spence or Howard Jones working in often at defensive end or Akeem Spence getting a significant number of reps at defensive tackle.

]( There still isn't a clear-cut return man.
In the Bucs' final preseason game, Bernard Reedy handled almost all of the Bucs' kickoff and punt returns. But the Buccaneers have used several players to return kicks throughout the preseason and even after the fourth game, Head Coach Dirk Koetter hadn't decided who will handle the responsibility. He listed Ryan Smith, Charles Sims and Adam Humphries as possible candidates.  


Pictures of Buccaneers' Cheerleaders during Training Camp 2016.

  1. Mike Smith's defense can get after the quarterback.**
    Throughout the Bucs' four preseason games, they were the best team in the league in getting after the quarterback. Tampa Bay recorded 16 sacks, which were the most of any team. Leading the way was Jacquies Smith, who recorded a team-high four sacks. The Broncos had the second-most with 15. The total number of sacks might not tell the full story, either. The Buccaneers were credited with 16 sacks but had pressure on opposing quarterbacks often.

4. The Bucs are deep along the offensive line.
The Buccaneers returned four of their starting five offensive linemen from a year ago, a group that helped Doug Martin finish with the second-most rushing yards in the league. The team could have a handful of starting-caliber players on the bench, with Evan Smith projected to be the No. 2 center and backup guard. Kevin Pamphile will be working as the starting left guard while J.R. Sweezy recovers from an injury. Both Smith and Pamphile are versatile; Smith has played center and guard and Pamphile can play almost every position along the line.

5. Kwon Alexander is taking the next step.
In just his second year, Alexander is emerging as a leader on the Buccaneers' defense. As the MIKE linebacker, he is responsible for calling in the team's plays. Alexander meets with Coach Smith every morning, though it's not required, to ensure that he's able to handle the responsibility and gain a firm grasp on the Bucs' new defensive system. As the preseason carried on, Alexander didn't appear to have lost a step, despite learning his second scheme in as many seasons.

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