Football is back! Well…sort of. The Buccaneers preseason kicks off on Friday as they travel to Cincinnati. And while these games don’t really count, there will still be plenty of action worth watching. Here’s some of the things I’ll be watching for as the Bucs take on the Bengals:

Martin

  • The Bengals have a great defensive line. It will be a good test for the Bucs offensive line which is one of the biggest question marks going into the season.
  • Jameis Winston needs to improve his deep ball accuracy; that was the point of signing DeSean Jackson. I’m hoping to see Winston take a few shots down field to see if he’s improved in this area over the last few months.
  • I really want to see Vernon Hargreaves matched up on A.J. Green. Green is one of the best receivers in the game and if Hargreaves can show well against him then it could be a very good sign of his development going into his second year.
  • O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin have received raving reviews as rookies in training camp. They’ll both likely see action with the second unit and I’m hoping to see them thrive, if not dominate.
  • I’m not sure what to expect with the running back rotation. Doug Martin is likely to still be the team’s featured back in 2017, but Jacquizz Rodgers will be the lead back for the first three games while Martin is suspended. I’ll be interested to see how those carries are split. The same goes for how the work will be divided between the two receiving backs, Charles Sims and Jeremy McNichols.
  • The rookie defenders all have something to prove. Justin Evans needs to show he can tackle at the NFL level. Kendell Beckwith need to show he’s healthy and able to play at full speed. Stevie Tu’ikolovatu is battling for a spot in the defensive tackle rotation and needs to impress to really solidify his place on the roster.
  • The kicking competition between Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk will be worth keeping an eye on as the job will be won and lost in preseason game action.
  • The competition for the fifth wide receiver spot is wide open. Someone, preferably someone with special teams value, needs to step up and impress. Personally, I hope it’s either Josh Huff or Bernard Reedy.
  • Noah Spence has reported to camp in excellent shape and seems primed for a big second season. I’m anxious to see how he looks in game action.
  • I’m not sold on any of the linebackers outside of David, Alexander and to a small degree Beckwith. The race is wide open for who the second unit will be. Someone, anyone, needs to step up and show he can fill in when called upon.
  • More than anything, I just want everyone to stay healthy. In the end, these games don’t really matter. Preseason success doesn’t translate at all to the regular season. After all the 0-16 Lions team went undefeated in the preseason. Just a little perspective to keep in mind.

About The Author J.T. Olson

J.T. is a Michigan native who's always been better at watching football than playing it. J.T. is a Buccaneers writer at Cover32.com and also covers Fantasy Football for CleatGeeks.com. He is a long time NFL Draft enthusiast who will cover the Buccaneers for Breaking Football.