Even if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers choose to start the 2010 preseason finale with their first-teamers on the field, there will be some changes to the starting lineup.
That's because five of the team's 75 players remained in Tampa when the team flew to Houston on Wednesday afternoon. The Buccaneers will take on the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on Thursday evening, with kickoff scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.
The five players who did not travel with the team, mostly due to minor injuries, are guard Davin Joseph, safety Sabby Piscitelli, wide receiver Maurice Stovall, guard Keydrick Vincent and tight end Kellen Winslow. Joseph, Stovall, Vincent and Winslow are all listed as starters on the Buccaneers' depth chart, though Stovall has not played since suffering an ankle injury in the preseason opener at Miami.
The Bucs do not expect any of those players to miss the regular-season opener against Cleveland on September 12.
Jeremy Zuttah and Marc Dile are listed as the primary reserves at guard and should see quite a bit of playing time on Thursday night. Jerramy Stevens is second on the depth chart to Winslow and Sammie Stroughter, who started last weekend against Jacksonville is next behind Stovall.
The Buccaneers had reduced their roster from 78 to 75 players on Tuesday, releasing wide receiver Terrence Nunn and running back Derrick Ward and placing linebacker Jon Alston on injured reserve. Thus, they still brought 70 men with them to Houston, and it's likely that all or most of them will see action against the Texans.
After playing some of their starters into the third quarter against Jacksonville last Saturday, the Buccaneers will follow the typical NFL preseason pattern and devote almost all of the playing time in the finale to reserves. Thursday's game is one final opportunity for Buccaneers management to evaluate its remaining players before the roster cut from 75 to 53 on Saturday.
Buccaneers.com will provide a pregame report from Reliant Stadium approximately 90 minutes before kickoff, complete with available information on lineup changes.