Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What to Look for: Buccaneers vs. Dolphins

A few storylines to follow when the Buccaneers take on the Dolphins on Thursday night.


1. The kicking battle.
The Bucs have three kickers on their roster, but by this time next week it's likely only one will remain. The team is required to cut their roster down from 75 players to 53 on Saturday, and it's not common to see a team retain more than one kicker. Patrick Murray, the team's starter from a year ago, has missed two field goals so far this season while Connor Barth, who was signed last week, missed his only attempt in a Buccaneer uniform on Saturday night against the Browns. The third kicker competing for a spot is Kyle Brindza, a rookie free agent out of Notre Dame, whom the Bucs traded for on Monday. Keep an eye when the Bucs' punters take the field; Jacob Schum is the projected starter but Brindza is a dual-threat.

2. Rookie wide receivers.
The Bucs' top three receivers are Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy, according to the team's depth chart. After them, there are five rookies battling for a position on the 53-man roster – Rannell Hall, Kaelin Clay, Donteea Dye, Adam Humphries and Kenny Bell. Clay and Bell, who might miss Thursday's game with injuries, were both draft picks while Hall was a priority free agent and Dye and Humphries both earned a spot on the Bucs' training camp roster through tryouts. Those five are battling for three roster spots, at the most, with Russell Shepard and Tavarres King. Special teams will be instrumental in whether or not those players make the squad.

3. The holder.
Punter Michael Koenen had served as the Bucs' holder, but he was released by the team Tuesday morning. Stepping in his place, according to the team's depth chart, is Mike Glennon. It will be interesting to see if another player gets reps with the kickers as well.

4. Forcing takeaways.
For a player trying to make an impression on defense, an interception is the ultimate splash play. The Bucs didn't force a turnover against the Browns last weekend, something that Head Coach Lovie Smith expressed disappointment with. Who will create a turnover for the Buccaneers on Thursday? Keep an eye on safety Chris Hackett and cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah.

5. One final impression.
Thursday's game is the last opportunity players have to make an impression on the Bucs' coaching staff before final cuts on Saturday. Coach Smith insisted that, in his years coaching, there have been players who propelled themselves onto the roster with a strong performance in the final preseason game. With an extended number of snaps, several backups will have a prolonged opportunity to show the coaches what they can do before the 53-man roster is set.

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