Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preseason: Week 2 Stock Report
The preseason is now half over for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and with eight quarters of game time under their belt, the Bucs are starting to see certain players rise to the occasion.
The Bucs are seeing some strong performances so far in training camp, as the cream rises to the top and competition for roster spots brings out the best in certain players.
At the same time, some players have struggled to make a positive impression so far, leaving their status in jeopardy as the first round of preseason cuts looms on the calendar.
Who has their arrow pointing up or down for the Bucs through two weeks of preseason action?
Stock Up: WR Russell Shepard
There's a tight competition going on for the last couple of receiver spots, and after his performance Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, Russell Shepard is making one of the strongest cases.
The do-it-all former quarterback from LSU is already one of the better special teams aces in the entire league, but he's starting to make a bigger impact as a receiver, as well. Russell hauled in two passes for 44 yards in the Bucs' 25-11 home win over Cincinnati—including a 22-yard touchdown from Mike Glennon—and added 12 yards on the ground.
Versatility is valuable when it comes to the last few roster spots, and Shepard has it by the truckload. If he continues to play at this level, he'll be a lock to make the team and should have a significant impact on both offense and special teams in 2015.
Stock Down: OL Garrett Gilkey
It's no secret among Bucs fans that Garrett Gilkey had an awful season in 2014, from costly penalties to errant snaps.
Unfortunately, 2015 hasn't started much better for the former Cleveland Brown, who has continued to struggle through the team's first two preseason games. He got the first crack at the starting right guard job, but rookie second-rounder Ali Marpet has easily outplayed him, and the errant snaps have popped up in both games when he's moved inside to center.
If the Bucs were any deeper along the offensive line, they would have already cut Gilkey. He has versatility on paper, but it's still not translating to the field on game day, and it may be too late for him to turn it around.
Stock Up: RB Doug Martin
One of the most encouraging sights for Bucs fans so far this preseason has been the rebirth of Doug Martin, who looks to have regained the form that led him to a Pro Bowl berth as a rookie in 2012.
The former first-round pick has been impressive throughout training camp, and he's delivered in both of the preseason games, as well. In Monday night's win over the Bengals, Martin helped spearhead an 80-yard touchdown drive by opening the game with a 30-yard run full of quality vision, broken tackles and change-of-direction ability.
Martin is averaging 7.1 yards per carry so far this preseason, showing off a slimmer frame and more explosiveness than fans have seen over the past two seasons. He's clearly the team's best back at the moment and looks primed for a bounce-back season in 2015.
Stock Down: WR Kenny Bell
The reason Kenny Bell finds himself on this list has less to do with the negatives in his performance than it does the high expectations he set with an impressive training camp.
Bell has looked like an absolute steal as a fifth-round pick during practice, making acrobatic catches and showing a strong chemistry with new quarterback Jameis Winston. But his practice prowess hasn't exactly translated to game situations so far this preseason, as Bell has suffered multiple dropped passes and hasn't looked as comfortable against live competition.
It's way too early to sound any alarms on Bell, who still has the potential to develop into an eventual starter for the Bucs. But it looks like it'll take more time than originally thought as he develops and adjusts to facing NFL talent.
Stock Up: LB Kwon Alexander
If you had to point out the most pleasant surprise so far this training camp and preseason, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more deserving candidate than Kwon Alexander.
The rookie fourth-rounder wasted no time in showing why the Bucs traded up in the fourth round to grab him, flashing the speed, range, instincts and explosiveness that make him a perfect fit in the Tampa 2 defense.
Alexander has looked so impressive he's already snatched the starting middle linebacker job away from veteran Bruce Carter, whom the Bucs just signed this offseason to a four-year deal worth over $20 million. Alexander's emergence gives Tampa Bay a promising young playmaker in the middle while improving the team's depth by moving Carter to the second team.