Take away two carries away from Thomas Jones and the Buccaneers defensive line looked like a well-tuned unit, perhaps even elite. Kansas City managed only 86 yards rushing (26 of that belonging to Jones) and the Bucs D-Line accumulated 4.5 sacks and three tackles for loss. First-round pick Adrian Clayborn showed plenty of motor, often diving into tackles and following plays across the field. Clayborn had a pair of solo tackles, including a solid stop at the line of scrimmage. Da'Quan Bowers, the Bucs second-round pick, made a solid stop in run defense. Third-year pro Michael Bennett, who is starting ahead of Bowers at left end, flashed some good moves and got a half sack along with linebacker Dekoda Watson for a safety in the second quarter. Al Woods forced a fumble and seemed to be in the pile often, finishing with three tackles. Most of the starters were out by the midway point of the second period except for Clayborn, who showed a consistent level of intensity. Even Kyle Moore, who has zero career sacks in two seasons with the Bucs, got two QB takedowns in the game and proved that he may still have a spot on Tampa Bay’s roster. One preseason game in and the squad still has a ways to go, but it was a very impressive performance by a unit that produced a measly 15 sacks last season.
Middle linebacker of the future Mason Foster took little time to make an impact, recovering a missed center-quarterback exchange on the Chiefs second drive. Much like Clayborn, Foster seemed to fly around the field. Quincy Black, who finished with two tackles, and Geno Hayes were much the same, making the plays they’re supposed to make. Black did over pursue on one of Jones’ big runs, something that he should improve upon as players get a little more action under their belts. Second-teamer Dekoda Watson was the game’s defensive star, finishing with a safety, 1.5 sacks and three tackles. Watson, Adam Hayward, and Tyrone McKenzie looked stellar in second team duty. Rookie Simoni Lawrence looked like the most talented player on the field in the game’s closing moments as he is fighting for a roster spot.
Ronde Barber looked…like Ronde Barber. The ageless veteran nailed second-year running back Dexter McCluster for a two-yard loss on a corner blitz on Kansas City’s second offensive play. With Aqib Talib still on the sideline, Elbert Mack and E.J. Biggers took most of the playing time. Mack was targeted only a pair of times, neither which of were completions. Biggers gave up one reception but looked much more comfortable than he did at times last season. Corners DJ Johnson and Anthony Gaitor saw a lot of action in the middle quarters against the consistent pass looks of the Chiefs. Johnson finished with two tackles and Gaitor had one. Larry Asante delivered the hit of the game on Chiefs receiver Jeremy Horne and looked good at times. Safety Sean Jones had his head in much of the game’s initial action, including a fumble recovery on the game’s third drive. Although it was against two backup QBs, the Bucs held Kansas City to just 8-of-16 passing for a pedestrian 68 yards, and looked good doing it.
Flawless. Free agent acquisition Michael Koenen knocked his only punt of the game dead at the 10-yard line. Conner Barth showed why he was so clutch last season and hit a pair of field goals from 25 and 40 yards out. Preston Parker looked unyielding as a return man. But the real action came from the position backups. Rookie returner Jock Sanders showed flashes of excitement on a pair of nice returns. He did mistakenly field one punt at the five-yard line, though. Backup kicker Jake Rogers knocked home a 46-yard field goal and all of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Second-string punter Robert Malone averaged 47.8 yards on his five punts. It was a promising start for a unit that lost longtime coordinator Rich Bisaccia in the offseason.
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