The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will give their starters an extended tune-up for the regular season on Saturday night in Miami, though there will be some individualized arrangements worked into the overall design.
"There won't be any wholesale plan," said Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano after his team's arrival at Sun Life Stadium. "Every guy has an individual plan – some of them will come out. A lot of them will come out after the half and maybe get a series or two. Some won't. We'll just keep that under the vest right now, but it's not going to be anything that's out of the norm. Just a couple guys might get pulled a little early."
In other words, it's a typical approach to the third week of the preseason, when starting units get their most extended playing time before a fourth game that is devoted almost solely to players battling for roster spots. Though some established vets may get to hang up the cleats before halftime, the starters will likely stay in for the beginning of the second quarter to simulate the experience of making halftime adjustments.
For the Buccaneers, those starters will include Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph, who hasn't played since suffering a season-ending knee injury exactly one year ago. Joseph went down in the third week of the 2012 preseason (on August 24, 2012) but his return from corrective surgery has been methodical and successful every step of the way. Joseph returned to full practice action at the start of this week and will suit up with the starting offense on Saturday night.
In contrast, the Buccaneers have chosen to hold All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis out of action, though that is not due to any set-back. Head Coach Greg Schiano has said repeatedly that he does not believe Revis needs any preseason work in order to be ready for the regular-season opener on September 8, and the team has been satisfied with the recent increase in the veteran cornerback's efforts on the practice field.
"We all know the level of player we're talking about here," said Schiano. "He worked with the one-unit defense and in the latter part of the week took every rep with the ones. So that's a good step and we're excited about his progress. We'll take it one day at a time but it looks like things are going in the direction we want them to. We've built in some wiggle room but we haven't had to use it yet. We just need to stick to that and not get anxious, but things look good."
Approximately 70-80 men will suit up for the Buccaneers tonight, including the offensive backfield trio of Brian Leonard, Peyton Hillis and Mike James. Leonard is expected to see a significant amount of action and the the Bucs need tonight's game tape to make some decision in the backfield. No matter who is on the field, Schiano would like to see the offense operate with greater efficiency on Saturday night..
"Like it is every week – [our goal is to] go out and execute, take care of the football, run the Buc offense," said Schiano. "The good thing is, we'll see more of them. I think sometimes when guys know they're only going to play eight, 10, 12 plays, they try to get a game's worth in eight to 10 plays. Let's go out and execute with patience and understanding and run the Buc offense. That's what I'm looking for."
There are no official inactives during the preseason. However, in addition to Revis and Martin the Buccaneers intend to sit K Lawrence Tynes, RB Michael Smith, CB Danny Gorrer, FB Erik Lorig, G Carl Nicks, WR Chris Owusu, TE Zach Miller and DE Aaron Morgan. The majority of the team's starters will suit up on Saturday night, however, and get a chance to stretch their legs a little bit in preparation for the upcoming start of the regular season. Schiano expects it to go well.
"It's been a good week," he said. "The guys have prepared hard and I think they're starting to get their legs back a little bit. I'm anxious to see us play."