Brad Johnson found Tim Brown early and often to the delight of the partisan crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Johnson and Brown will not see action past the first quarter in Houston so Saturday was the last chance to see how far the Bucs have come since off-season workouts began.
The roster will be trimmed to 65 players on Tuesday. This means 23 players will be out of a job. Former Gator Earnest Graham is in danger of being on this list of 23, despite being the team's leading rusher on Saturday. He also tacked on a touchdown to make the call for the coaching staff that much harder. Jamel White has been impressive enough to make himself a virtual lock to make the squad. The fact is the Bucs are not going to take four running backs. If Graham is not cut this week, he will be the week after.
The glimpse into the regular season was not all peaches and cream. Martin Gramatica missed another pair of field goals bringing back terrible memories from a year ago. When kickers lose it they lose it fast. Gramatica will not have as much leeway this year. Early struggles this year will force Jon Gruden to find another kicker in mid season.
The receiver race is always hotly contested. Frank Murphy, Mark Jones and Charles Lee will make it past Tuesday, but after that at least one of them will be cut. Murphy has caught the coaches' eyes with improved hands to compliment his blazing speed. He is still the number one kick returner according to the depth chart. Mark Jones brings a great deal of energy, but his lack of size will be his undoing. Lee is talented, but has not played a single down in the pre-season. He does not play special teams so a close call might not end up going his way. Danny Farmer will be cut Tuesday.
The near future looks bright. When the offensive line comes together Johnson will be able to drive the team with even greater efficiency than he did against the Dolphins. The biggest pre season game for the starters is over, but the fourth game will decide the fate of the bubble players.
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