Photo Credit: Chris Kasak / WDAE
BY: Dory LeBlanc / 620wdae.com
“I’m actually not going to play Thursday night. There are a number of guys, starters, who’ve already moved on and started prep for the New York Jets.”
That’s what Bucs’ signal caller Josh Freeman told the media after Wednesday’s practice, so don’t expect to see many week one starters play tonight in the preseason finale against the Redskins.
The game does give several position groups one final opportunity to impress the Buccaneers' coaching staff before impending final roster cuts taking place this Saturday, in particular the corner backs.
Head Coach Greg Schiano announced Tuesday that CBs Anthony Gaitor will miss the season with a torn ACL and Danny Gorrer is sidelined after having groin surgery, which leaves the secondary on thin ice to start the season.
The star of free agency, Darrelle Revis, hasn’t played a down in pewter and red, but rehab from his ACL injury suffered last September is progressing on-schedule. Barring any last minute setbacks, the four-time Pro Bowler should be on the field when the whistle blows in the season-opener against the Jets at MetLife Stadium next week.
Tampa Bay's first pick (second round) in this past April's draft, Johnthan Banks, has performed well both in training camp and the first three preseason games. Banks should line up opposite Revis in Week one against the Jets.
Five players currently on the 75-man roster remain to battle it out for the final three roster slots at the position – possibly four, going by last year’s final 53.
Leonard Johnson, who started six games in 2012, should be a lock to make the team as is Michael Adams. Adams was a free agency signing who spent his first six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
That leaves three rookies, Deveron Carr, Rashaan Melvin, and Mason Robinson, vying for one or possibly two spots.
The cornerback to watch this week is Melvin. The lengthy Melvin played at Northern Illinois and went undrafted, despite standing at 6-2 and possessing a long reach and great ball skills. Melvin wowed the masses at training camp and has held his own in all three preseason games.
After practice Tuesday, Melvin said losing Gorrer for the short term and Gaitor for the entire season opened up some opportunities for other guys, but it’s tough when those opportunities come at the expense of members of the group.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Melvin said. “We’re all out here trying to get a job, trying to earn a job. We just all come in in meeting rooms, working together. When those guys went down – it’s always bittersweet. The thing is, the next guy in has to step up and take advantage of the opportunity.”
Taking advantage of every opportunity is exactly what the current corners have to do against Washington.
Just less than 48 hours after kickoff, the Bucs’ staff will be trimming 22 names off the roster to meet the NFL guidelines; but so will 31 other teams as well.
Tonight is the last chance many players have to make an impression; they're not just playing for a job in Tampa, for some of them, they're playing for their careers.