The Buccaneers were just as fruitful against a slow-witted Kansas City Chiefs side. This will surely be a contest of stout contenders against hopeful youth.
As the Buccaneers take another stride towards becoming a playoff team, it will pay dividends to learn from a team in the know. There is no better team to glean playoff swagger from than the New England Patriots.
Let's delve into the finer points of Thursday's matchup.
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST
Watch: Games is Blacked-Out in Tampa Area, WBZ-TV Boston; online at NFL.com (must pay $19.99 for league-wide package), live look-ins on NFL Network; game replay: 11 p.m. EST Thursday, NFL Network.
Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub Boston, Sirius 93, 94
Patriots Key Addition
There are a few additions to this star-studded roster that will be mentioned, but there are only two that you will care to hear.
Albert Haynesworth is the biggest question mark as we head into Week 2 of the preseason. Fat Albert has not been in the best shape at camp, but he is certainly on his best behavior.
You can bet that we will see him and Chad Ochocinco on the field soon. Whether they make the team depends on vital snaps in the next couple weeks.
Buccaneers Key Addition
The Buccaneers lacked fire on the defensive line last season. Raheem Morris has a pit bull in Adrian Clayborn, and he has so far been satisfied with the results.
Clayborn will continue to prove that he deserves vital snaps at defensive end for this team on the rise.
Patriots Biggest Loss
The Patriots haven't lost much in the offseason. They shored up their needs where they were demanded to do so and signed the free agents that would be missed. Kevin Faulk being one of the most key examples.
They may feel the loss of depth at safety as Jarrad Page leaves the squad as a free agent. Other than that, this team is deep, and they have shown as much early in the preseason.
Buccaneers Biggest Loss
The Bucs are using temperance and fiscal responsibility as they grow. That means they lose one defender that anchored their tackling needs.
Tampa Bay will no doubt miss the sight of Barrett Ruud bringing down running backs and cutting receivers. Look for a young Buc to come in and shine in his stead.
What They're Saying
Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune highlights the state of mind of Buccaneers quarterback, Josh Freeman. Last year's success story is not happy with being good, he wants to be great. He will be taking notes if Tom Brady decides to suit up.
Sean Deveney of the SportingNews reports Chad Ochocinco is looking very much in tune with Tom Brady in practice. He is also winning over teammates left and right. This is one gamble that may work in the Patriots' favor.
Patriots' Player to Watch
There are just too many that pique the interest. It remains to be seen if Haynesworth will make it into the game. He has so far not been active in practice. With that in doubt, we turn to the biggest star there is.
Tom Brady is expected to finally take some snaps. This will be the first look at a player that will once again challenge for the MVP.
Buccaneers' Player to Watch
Gerald McCoy looks ready to finally take some reps at defensive tackle this week. The first signs of how a very young line will do revolves how well he can bounce back from injury.
Look for head coach Raheem Morris to be biting his nails as McCoy takes the field.
Matchup to Watch
The Patriots 4-3 defense versus the Buccaneers offensive line. The Patriots showed the new-look defense last week and swallowed up the Jaguars.
I am very interested to see how much more they get out of it with Vince Wilfork finally in tow. He should be on the field, and the Bucs will have their work cut out.
Patriots' Position Battle
There is a tug and pull all over the field. After last week's game though, we will all be ready to see who is ready to win the job as Tom Brady's understudy.
Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer both showed brilliant arms and poised personas. Both gentleman give reasons to actually watch all of this preseason game.
Buccaneers' Position Battle
James Lee and Jeremy Trueblood continue to battle for the right tackle position. Trueblood has the inside track as of now, but that can all change in the form of one brilliant game.
We will see a very invigorated James Lee on Thursday.
Youth versus Stewardship.
It is almost depressing that this is a preseason game. The two teams could not be better suited to provide high drama. That makes it a shame we will see their first-string in for one a couple drives at most.
With that being said, the underlying theme remains. The Patriots are the blueprint you follow if you want NFL success. They have been here before, as Super Bowl contenders.
For Tampa Bay, they can only hope to have the same type of consistency on a yearly basis. For now, they will build on a surprising season in 2010.
Ahead of schedule, the Buccaneers looked like they were ready to make a statement to the rest of the NFL that they are ready for prime time in the postseason. Perhaps that statement was a mere season early.
Prediction: Patriots, 27-24
For more coverage on your favorite team's first preseason game, visit the Bleacher Report NFL Page.
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