Bucs-Jags Preview

The Bucs play their first home game of the preseason tonight at 7:30 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The question on everyone's mind is how much of Carnell Williams will we see tonight? Most likely not that much.

Williams will not see a lot of action tonight for several reasons. First, Williams is going to be the starter when the season rolls around. He'll split time with Pittman at the beginning of the season, while Williams improves his pass blocking. But a team doesn't take a runningback with the fifth overall pick and then sit him on the bench for the season.

Second, Williams was injury prone while he was at Auburn and the last thing Gruden wants to do is lose his prize rookie in a meaningless game. The offensive line is missing some of its regular season starters (Anthony Davis, Matt Stinchcomb) and until the regular season starts there is no point risking Williams' health. Third, the Bucs have a lot of other runningbacks on their roster right now (Earnest Graham, Derek Watson, and Ian Smart) and the coaches need to evaluate which of these guys are worth keeping and which will get cut in the upcoming weeks. Anyway, here are some things to look for after Williams leaves the game:
  • This will be the first game for rookies Rick Razzano (fullback) and Larry Brackins (receiver). Razzano looks like he can be the true blocking fullback the Bucs have been looking for. Brackins is the physically talented athlete out of Pearl River Community College who is fighting for the fourth or fifth receiver position on the team.
  • The offensive line looked impressive last week, with 169 rushing yards. A team with one of the worst running games last season, the Bucs look to continue to establish a more dominant running attack this week and it starts with the offensive line. If the Bucs can rack up more rushing yards this week against a more talented Jaguars defense, it will be step in the right direction.
  • Speaking of the Jaguars, all Jacksonvillite's (or is it Jacksonvillian's?) eyes will be on their own much heralded rookie, Matt Jones. Jones played quarterback at Arkansas, but he has been converted into a receiver by the Jaguars, who desperately need offensive help. Jones has a unique blend of size and speed (6 foot 6, 242 pounds), and was considered one of the best athletes in the NFL draft.
  • The Jaguars depended heavily on their eleventh ranked defense last season, while the offense struggled to put points on the board. There will be even more pressure on quarterback Byron Leftwich this season to turn the offense around. Runningback Fred Taylor is one hit away from another season ending groin injury, and none of his backups have proven they can carry the starting load.

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