Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It Starts in Miami

Though official dates and times are still pending, the Bucs' 2010 preseason slate is set, beginning with a road contest against the Dolphins and once again ending in Houston...Kansas City and Jacksonville visit Raymond James Stadium in Weeks Two and Three

 

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 QB Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers will return to Miami, site of a very tight Bucs-Dolphins game last fall

The next game Josh Freeman plays will be at the same site in which he made his first NFL road start.

Freeman and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin their 2010 preseason slate with an away game against their traditional August rival, the Miami Dolphins. The NFL released its full, 65-game preseason schedule on Wednesday, and though only the nationally-televised games have specific dates and times attached to them at this point, the Bucs and Dolphins will square off at Sun Life Stadium between August 12-16.

The Buccaneers will then return home for their next two preseason games, playing host to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week Two (August 19-23) and the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week Three (August 26-29). The warmup games will conclude in Houston, as the Buccaneers and Texans finish their respective preseasons against each other for the ninth summer in a row.

The precise dates for the four games will likely be announced when the NFL releases the full-season schedule within the next few weeks. The Bucs most commonly play their first three preseason games on Saturday evenings, and all games in the fourth week are played on either Thursday or Friday. Since Tampa Bay is not included in any of the 11 nationally-televised preseason games, the four contests will once again be carried locally on WFLA-TV.

Tampa Bay's 2010 Preseason Opponents

Weekend Dates Opponent Network
Week 1 Aug. 12-16 at Miami WFLA-TV
Week 2 Aug. 19-23 KANSAS CITY WFLA-TV
Week 3 Aug. 26-29 JACKSONVILLE WFLA-TV
Week 4 Sept. 2-3 at Houston WFLA-TV

Most of the Bucs' preseason foes are quite familiar at this point. In addition to playing Houston every season since the Texans entered the NFL as an expansion team in 2002, Tampa Bay has also included Jacksonville on its schedule in each of those eight seasons and faced Miami every year dating back to 2000. Kansas City is the relative newcomer on the list; the Bucs and Chiefs haven't played each other in the preseason since 2000, in a game also held at Raymond James Stadium.

Obviously, a premium is placed on short trips in the preseason, which is why the Bucs and Dolphins have tested their instate rivalry 24 times over the past 34 years. That makes Miami, which leads the series 15-9, by far Tampa Bay's most common preseason opponent. The Bucs commonly agree to multi-year preseason arrangements with clubs like Miami, Jacksonville and Houston and then simply alternate home and away games from year to year.

Thus, last year's Bucs-Dolphins game was held at Raymond James Stadium, but Tampa Bay did head south later in the year for a regular season game. That proved to be the second start of Freeman's career, one week after he had won his NFL starting debut at home against the Green Bay Packers. Completing 16 of 28 passes for 196 yards, one touchdown and one interception, Freeman rallied the Bucs from a 13-point second-half deficit to a 23-22 lead before Miami came back with the game-winning field goal in the final seconds.

If usual substitution patterns hold for the preseason opener, Freeman will likely see only brief action in his second appearance at Sun Life Stadium along with the rest of the team's starters. However, the location will still serve as the official launching point for one of the most anticipated seasons ever for a Buccaneers quarterback.

Teams generally give their starters a larger helping of the action in the second and third weeks of the preseason, both of which will find the Buccaneers playing at home. The first 2010 game at Raymond James Stadium will feature the Chiefs, against whom Tampa Bay has won three of its four previous preseason matchups. The Bucs will try to stretch their preseason winning streak against Jacksonville to two games, though the Jaguars hold a 5-3 edge in the series overall.

Houston won at Raymond James Stadium for the first time ever last year (preseason or regular season) but Tampa Bay still leads that all-time summer series, 6-2.

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