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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Decisions Still Await for Buccaneers on Quarterback, Kicker

With one game to go on the preseason slate, Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers have not yet chosen to announce decisions in the Baker Mayfield-Kyle Trask and Chase McLaughlin-Rodrigo Blankenship competitions


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have played two-thirds of their preseason schedule and are nine days away from having to reduce their roster from 90 players to 53 for the regular season. They still have two very significant decisions to make: Who is the starting quarterback, and who is the kicker?

Head Coach Todd Bowles declined to make either announcement on Sunday as he met with the media regarding the Buccaneers' 13-6 win over the New York Jets on Saturday. Whether or not he and his staff have made either decision, or at least narrowed in on the answers, it is not yet time to name the winners of the one-on-one battles at both positions.

"We don't have a timetable on it," said Bowles of the naming of a starting quarterback between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. "We'll name it when we name it. We feel comfortable with where we're at, so we'll go from there."

Mayfield started the Buccaneers' preseason opener against Pittsburgh and led four drives, exiting midway through the second quarter. One of those drives ended in a touchdown pass to rookie WR Trey Palmer; two were killed by failed short-yardage runs, including an opening possession that featured three runs and a punt. He finished the game with eight completions in nine attempts for 63 yards, a touchdown, no interceptions and a 132.9 passer rating. Trask relieved him in the second quarter and also directed four drives, the first of which ended in an interception.

Trask opened Saturday's game in New Jersey and played the entire first half, ending in a two-minute drill that got the team in range for a long field goal try that it didn't quite get off before the clock ran out. Third-string quarterback John Wolford then came on to start the second half.

"It was all about whether we were going to keep the offensive line in the ballgame," Bowles explained. "We really wanted to see Kyle in a two-minute situation, so once we got to the two-minute situation and Kyle got that in, we really didn't want to play Baker in the second half because we were changing the line up. We wanted John to get some of the work so we left [Mayfield] out."

The Bucs intended to let Wolford finish the game but he had to be taken off the field on a cart and transported to a nearby hospital after suffering a neck injury with a minute left in the third quarter. Bowles reported on Monday that tests on Wolford came out well and that the quarterback did fly back to Tampa with the team. Trask went back into the game and played the final quarter, eventually finishing with 20 completions in 28 attempts for 218 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 106.0 passer rating. He also threw a touchdown pass to Palmer.

"Poise," said Bowles of what stood out about Trask's performance. "Poise in the pocket. A lot more athleticism – he used his legs when he had to and he was very successful at that. He threw the ball where he was supposed to throw it – he threw some pinpoint passes. He'd like to have a few plays back but overall, I saw a lot of poise and a lot of growth. I thought he did well."

Bowles indicated on both Saturday evening and Sunday morning that both Mayfield and Trask would play in the final preseason game next weekend against Baltimore. Wolford's availability for that contest is obviously a major question mark, so the team may not have any other options barring an outside addition. One more warmup outing would give both quarterbacks a chance to show they have command of the playbook and the huddle.

"Just continuing to master the offense – that's really all it is – mastering the offense," said Bowles of what the quarterbacks could gain from one more outing. "It's new for everybody. Everybody is getting a good feel for what they can do right now – running the offense and driving the car."

Through two games the Buccaneers have followed a strict pattern in the usage of the two kickers vying to replace Ryan Succop. Chase McLaughlin and Rodrigo Blankenship have alternated kicks, whether they were field goals or extra points. Against the Jets, that led to one of each type of kick for McLaughlin, who hit them both, including a 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Blankenship ended up with three field goal attempts, hitting from 35 yards but pushing a 55-yard attempt a little to the right and hitting the left upright from 32 yards out late in the fourth quarter.

The game against the Ravens at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night will offer the final allotment of evidence in that competition before the team must trim its roster down by the following Tuesday.

"I'll look at the tape," said Bowles. "You've got to make them to be in it. You've seen what you've seen but we've got one more game and we'll go from there."

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