In Rod We Trust: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preseason Edition
Tampa Bay Buccaneers featured columnist J.J. Rodriguez's "In Rod We Trust" is a new, weekly column that features anecdotes and musings pertaining to the Bucs and on occasion, the NFL.
Now that the extent of guard Davin Joseph's knee injury is known, I trust the Buccaneers will be actively scanning the waiver wire as NFL rosters are trimmed down to the regular-season requirement of 53-players by this upcoming Friday. Joseph's replacement, Ted Larsen, has some experience, tallying 14-career starts in two seasons with the Bucs. That said, if the front office is able to find a more-suitable replacement—or at the very least find someone who can add depth—you can bet a move will be made.
Receiver Vincent Jackson had his best outing of the preseason Friday night, hauling in three catches for 49 yards against New England. I trust many Bucs fans were encouraged to not only see the type of impact No. 83 can have on this offense, but also how much easier he can make quarterback Josh Freeman's job.
Speaking of Freeman, as many fans, I don't trust his ability to suddenly 'figure things out' between now and September 9, when the Bucs host the Panthers to start the regular season. Personally, the most frustrating thing about his play thus far in preseason—and most of last season—has been how wildly inconsistent he has been. He'll complete a few passes in a row and look decisive doing so. Only to turnaround and go entire drives where he doesn't resemble a starting quarterback at all.
After reviewing Friday's game vs. New England, I trust rookie safety Mark Barron can truly be a difference maker for this defense—this season and beyond. He showed incredible range and clearly has a nose for the football, returning an interception for a touchdown early in the contest. Not only that, but Barron is clearly an upgrade over, say, Cody Grimm or Larry Asante, both of whom provide valuable depth but do not possess nearly the same game-changing ability that Barron does.
With both home games this preseason blacked out, I don't trust the idea that enough fans will buy tickets to avoid regular season blackouts, even with the team deciding to lower their blackout threshold to 85 percent. Could it be, like some have suggested, that fans may be waiting for the regular season to purchase tickets rather than spend the same amount of money on otherwise meaningless games? Perhaps. But judging from the recent attendance struggles the cross-bay, playoff-contending Tampa Bay Rays have encountered, I'm not convinced the Bucs can sell 55,000-plus tickets on a consistent basis.
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