Exhibition Game 1: What to Watch For

I can't stand the hyping of exhibition games, for the most part they are meaningless and are boring to watch. It's criminal that teams charge fans full regular season price for preseason game tickets. Even the term "preseason" is misleading since it implies these games have some value approaching that of a regular season or even postseason game.

That being written, there are some things to watch for tonight. It is always interesting to see how rookies will do during a full game speed situation. Additionally, these preseason games decide closely fought position battles. So here's what to watch for....

  • Rookies: The Bucs have a number of rookies to watch on the defense but the only rookie who will be starting tonight will be playing offense. Guard Aaron Sears is the latest addition in Gruden and company's attempts to rebuild the line, and it will be interesting to see how Sears plays with left tackle Anthony Davis.
  • Other Rookies: Highly touted defensive end Gaines Adams is supposed to be the savior for the franchise but even with Simeon Rice cut from the team Adams is second on the depth chart behind Patrick Chuckwurah. Which means Adams will likely be playing against the Pat's second stringers, so take any plays he makes with a grain of salt.
  • More Other Rookies: Rookie safeties Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson both have a realisitc shot at ursurping Jermaine Phillips and Will Allen. Allen was shaky at times last season and Phillips was downright pitiful to watch. Despite battling injuries Sabby has played well during training camp and if he plays well in the exhibition games will likely surpass Phillips on the deoth chart.
  • Position Battles: Despite what the analysts on SportsCenter are declaring at this very moment Jeff Garcia has a stranglehold on the starting quarterback position. His only realistic competition, Chris Simms, has struggled in training camp. Instead the position battle to watch is for the flanker receiver spot between Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall. Despite playing in just his second year Stovall has surpassed Clayton on the depth chart. Considering how depleted the Pats secondary is at the moment we could see some fireworks from the receivers as they attempt to outdo each other.

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