Imagine Arians as he looks for answers

by Gary Shelton on August 28, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Arians looks to finish off his roster./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

Imagine watching this as a fan.

You watch until the first punt. You see what's on Netflix. You make a sandwich. Is it still the first quarter? You take a walk. You tell the dog its lucky you don't have a backup dog. You play with your IPhone. You check out the Rays' game. You go to the refrigerator. You see what's on Hulu. You debate whether Jameis Winston is any better or not. You look for Ronald Jones II on the sideline. You make your list of the best 20 songs by Bruce Springsteen.

You check your watch. Is it still the first quarter?

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Now, imagine watching this game through the eyes of Bruce Arians. Arians is checking out this receiver. He is contemplating the linebackers. He is looking for the last 10 or so slots on his roster.

He has work to do.

It is always this way. No one cares about the fourth preseason game but the coaches, and sometimes, not even them. Coaches have held starters out of the preseason all summer long, as if they were providing the league reasons to think about an 18-game regular season.

So where will Arians be looking?

Quarterback: Not much to see here. Quarterback Vinnie Testaverde, signed this week, will get a lot of the playing time. But even if he's phenomenal, he's kind of late to the party. Ryan Griffin will exit early, lest he get hurt, too.

Running back: The first three backs seem set: Peyton Barber, Ron Jones and Dare Ogunbowale. Andre Elllington will play and try to convince Arians to keep four, but even if he does,  is Ellington the guy? Or might the Bucs pick up a back from another team's cutdowns?

Wide receiver: The key is here is Scottie Miller. Has he done enough to dislodge Justin Watson or Bobo Wilson? Watson has generally been the fourth receiver, and Wilson looks like the team's best returner. The guess is they cut Miller and try to sign him to the practice squad; heck, does another team want a draft pick who barely practiced?

Tight end: Arians will look closely at camp sensation Tanner Hudson, whose receiving abilities are better than his blocking abilities. The thing is, the Bucs need blocking at that spot. It says here the Bucs hang onto Hudson, but again, they could shop around the waiver wire.

Offensive line: The problem isn't the guys the Bucs will cut. It's the guys the Bucs will keep. Last week was a minefield, with the team getting overwhelmed by the Browns. There is too much money thrown at this line for that. Look for Zac Bailey and Earl Watford to earn spots on this line.

Defensive line: The Bucs have shown a decent pass rush so far with their new alignment. I'm not sure Noah Spence will hold onto his starting position at outside linebacker, especially with Shaq Barnett closing the gap. If I was Arians, I'd like to see a little more of Anthony Nelson.

Inside linebacker: Devin White will eventually show up. If I'm Arians, I'm thinking about that as I watch Jack Cichy make this team.

Secondary: The Bucs have at least been competitive this summer, which was a relief after last year. But they're young. If I'm Arians, I'm looking at the final corner position. With the quarterbacks this team will face, he might have downs he wants to play nine at a time.

Kicker: I watch Carlos Santos and hope he pulls something. I'd love to keep him around as an insurance policy for Matt Gay.



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