Tampa Bay Preseason Week 4August 29, 2018
Dirk Koetter Press Conference, Aug. 28
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished practice on Tuesday at noon, following a typical Friday schedule because it was two days before their preseason finale against Jacksonville on Thursday. A group of offensive and defensive linemen voluntarily ran some gassers after that, some players worked on their hands using the Jugs gun and a few others were stopped for interviews on the way in.
Still, after about 20 minutes later, the field was clear except for one small group of players working under the direction of Quarterbacks Coach Mike Bajakian. Rookie quarterback Austin Allen was joined by wide receiver Donteea Dye, tight end Matt Weiser and running back Devine Redding as the four tried to memorize, at walk-through speed, where they were supposed to go on a variety of plays on Bajakian’s sheet.
This was an unusual practice field scene entirely created by what is annually a pretty unusual game. As is now common practice across the league (but wasn’t until about a dozen years ago), the last week of preseason games is played almost exclusively by rookies and young players on the back end of the depth chart. Allen has all of nine NFL preseason passes under his belt and none of the other three in his post-practice group was on Tampa Bay’s roster as recently as eight days ago, but all four are likely to see significant playing time on Thursday. First things first, they need to make sure they know what they’re supposed to do when the ball is snapped.
The Buccaneers will have two days after Thursday night’s meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars to trim their roster from 91 players to 53 for the regular season. Obviously, the four players noted above face steeper odds than some; that’s true of Dye, Weiser and Redding simply because of the short amount of time they’ve been with the team, while Allen is behind three experienced quarterbacks who have had outstanding preseasons. But was noted on Monday, every player who takes the field on Thursday night will be given an opportunity to create tape for 31 other teams.
And, despite the odds, some of those players could still win roster spots on Thursday night, or increase their chances of landing on the practice squad. This is most likely to occur at the positions where the depth of talent has created a competition that is still uncertain heading into these last few days of the preseason. Head Coach Dirk Koetter noted a few in particular after Tuesday’s practice.
“Yeah, linebacker…offensive line, mainly because of attrition, and running back,” said Koetter. “Who’s going to be that last running back spot?”