HBO 'Hard Knocks' 2017: Best Episode 4 Buccaneers Storylines, Moments, Reaction

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2017

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 26: Quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers avoid a tackle by Defensive End Carl Nassib #94 of the Cleveland Browns during the game at Raymond James Stadium on August 26, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. The Browns defeated the Buccaneers 13 to 9. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

By all accounts, Jameis Winston has been sharp leading up to the start of the 2017 season.

That wasn't the case Saturday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sputtered throughout a 13-9 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 of exhibition play at Raymond James Stadium.

On the fourth episode of HBO's Hard Knocks, Winston's hiccups were spotlighted, as narrator Liev Schreiber noted an offense generally renowned for having "sync, swagger and success" struck out in all three departments as it failed to generate a touchdown in more than a half of work.

All told, Winston completed 17 of 27 passes for 200 yards and an interception that cut the Buccaneers' opening drive short.

Winston's week was also chronicled off the field.

During one segment, cameras followed the 23-year-old inside his Tampa-area home and offered a glimpse at his relationship with longtime girlfriend Breion Allen―a former Rice University basketball standout who gave Winston all he could handle during a playful game of pop-a-shot:

The jokes continued during the Bucs' rookie show, when several first-year players took aim at veteran defensive lineman Chris Baker, as Pewter Report and Casey Phillips of the team's official website noted:

Then again, Baker has made himself something of an easy target, as NFL Films documented:

The performance of rookie running back Jeremy McNichols was no laughing matter, though.

Following subpar showings in the Bucs' first two preseason games, the Boise State product was benched against the Browns when he missed a blitz pickup, per Pewter Report:

"He's gonna get one final chance to show what he can do," head coach Dirk Koetter later told reporters, according to ESPN.com's Jenna Laine.

Joining McNichols on the roster bubble this week was undrafted free-agent wide receiver Bobo Wilson, whose struggles to identify coverage in the film room with offensive coordinator Todd Monken were documented by Phillips:

Wilson proceeded to play just nine snaps against Cleveland and didn't record a catch or target in limited action.

The same couldn't be said of roster hopeful Donteea Dye, who worked his way back from an ankle injury to record two receptions for 18 yards. He also had a contested near-touchdown catch in traffic ruled out of bounds, much to the dismay of Bucs players and coaches on the sideline.

Dye, McNichols and Wilson should be back in the spotlight for Episode 5, when cutdown day will take center stage after the Buccaneers wrap up their preseason slate Thursday night at home against the Washington Redskins.

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