View photos of the Buccaneers' preseason Week 2 game against the Tennessee Titans.
Winston's on fire
The Bucs scored 17 points in the second quarter. Quarterback Jameis Winston played the entire second quarter. Coincidence? Nope. Winston was on fire for each scoring drive he led, hitting veteran targets, rookie receivers and spreading the ball out to the running backs as well. His first drive saw a 38-yard completion to veteran Mike Evans, where Evans manhandled his way to the ball and stayed in bounds to set up what was eventually an easy field goal for kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Fans finally got a glimpse of Winston's long ball connection with DeSean Jackson as the two synced up for a 54-yard completion from the Tampa Bay goal line as the first play of the next drive. It led to a bizarre sequence of events and Bucs penalties (more on those later) that concluded with an even more bizarre, yet extremely athletic play. On third-down and five, Winston shook off multiple defenders and after seeing a flag thrown in front of him, chucked the ball up to the end zone as he was being pulled down, where second-year receiver Chris Godwin unbelievably came down with the score. Winston finished the night 13-18 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and a whopping 151.4 passer rating.
The fourth running back spot is completely up for grabs
Dare Ogunbowale and Shaun Wilson got some significant reps in the game as they fight for a fourth backer spot. Each got five carries, Wilson managed 17 yards on the ground with that work and Ogunbowale managed just four, but the latter got most of his yards through the air. Ogunbowale had two catches for 40 yards, including a long 38-yard grab from quarterback Ryan Griffin that put the Bucs just outside the red zone. The drive would result in a 21-yard touchdown pass to rookie Sergio Bailey and put the Bucs out of reach of the Titans to secure the game. Each got a lot of work on special teams as well, both acting as kick returners in the game, which could help each of their cases. If Scott Smith is the driver of the Shaun Wilson Bandwagon, consider me your Ogunbowale Chauffeur. All aboard.
Vinny Curry is… the inside man
Ok so defensive end Vinny Curry still started the game on the outside, but he got quite a few looks rubbing shoulders with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on the interior. It wasn't in an obvious running situation but it was in third down that it was noticeable. The Titans were facing third-and-21 after an offensive holding penalty and a tackle for loss by Kwon Alexander backed them up. Tennessee was able to gain 16 yards on the next play which was a pass from quarterback Blaine Gabbert to receiver Jonnu Smith and ironically, it was Curry who made the tackle. He may have started on the inside but somehow managed to make the tackle on the receiver, proving just how versatile the big man is.
Cat is consistent
Kicker Chandler Catanzaro can kick… consistently. The Cat Man was a perfect 3-3 in field goal attempts. His long was a 48-yarder in the fourth quarter on a drive set up by quarterback Ryan Griffin. He easily nailed each one of his point after attempts – three in all – and I no longer hold my breath when the Bucs have to kick.
Bucs got backed up
Remember when I said we'll get to the penalties later? It's later. The glaring blemish on the Bucs' solid victory over the Titans was some sloppy play on both sides of the ball. Both teams committed 10 or more penalties leading to over 100 penalty yards but in Tampa Bay's case, many of those penalties came with the first-team, particularly on Winston's second drive of the night. The first penalty called was offensive holding on tight end O.J. Howard, which, okay, he's been working on his blocking this offseason and what offensive lineman or extension of the offensive line doesn't hold? The killer on that drive was another offensive holding penalty that negated a touchdown by rookie Brad Seaton, who was in for veteran Demar Dotson. Rookie mistake, ok. The next one was the real kicker – and I mean that almost literally. On what would have been a 39-yard field goal for Catanzaro, right guard Caleb Benenoch was called for illegal formation. Catanzaro was thankfully good from 44 yards but the whole drive wasn't the Bucs' best. Then, on the next series, the Bucs' defense got called on illegal contact – twice. Once by linebacker Kwon Alexander and the next by defensive end Will Gholston. It may be preseason, but you can be sure those veteran guys will be hearing it after watching the tape from their coaches.