By Tom Krasniqi
One more preseason game to go. Thank goodness for that. Most of the starting jobs are accounted for. Tomorrow night’s preseason finale against the Redskins at Raymond James Stadium provides one final opportunity for the fringe players to make a lasting impression.
For guys like defensive backs Keith Tandy and Rashaan Melvin, they need to make their snaps count if they want to make this roster. Tandy’s versatility and special teams prowess gives him a fighting chance to stick. He may have to open some eyes tomorrow night. Same goes for Melvin, who has shined during training camp but hasn’t made many splash plays during the preseason. He could be a practice squad candidate.
While fans and media immediately dismiss the final preseason game, the coaching staff takes it seriously. It gives head coach Greg Schiano a final look at players trying to make the roster. “Oh it [final preseason game] will have a factor, sure,” says Schiano. “I think that and the practice squad as well.”
There is a battle still going on at strongside linebacker. Dekoda Watson and Jonathan Casillas are running neck-and-neck for the job. Watson was the unquestioned starter at the beginning of camp but Casillas is making a strong push for the job. The feeling here is no matter who gets the starting job, both players will see playing time.
There are other positions that have yet to be determined. For instance, the starting tight end debate between Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree. Schiano says both players will play a lot when the regular season begins but a defined starter hasn’t been determined yet. The #3 receiver position is up for grabs between Kevin Ogletree and Tiquan Underwood. Veteran Rian Lindell and unproven but impressive youngster Derek Dimke are vying for the kicking job.
Most of the starters will not play so you may not recognize the many faces who will be wearing pewter and red Thursday night at Ray Jay. On Saturday, the Bucs must trim their roster from 75 to 53. That means many of the players you see against the Redskins will be gone next week when the real season begins.
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