NFL Preseason 2014 Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Bills
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hit the road for their third preseason game to take on the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Buccaneers are entering the game with a 0-2 record in the preseason, but showed improvement from the first game to the next. Meanwhile, the Bills are coming off a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and currently hold record of 0-2 in the preseason.
Injuries have been a major issue for the Buccaneers throughout the preseason. Alterraun Verner, one of the team’s prized free agent signings, has yet to play this preseason after injuring his hamstring early in training camp. Fellow cornerback Mike Jenkins has also missed time with a hamstring injury. Rookie running back Charles Sims will be out for a prolonged period of time after suffering an ankle injury.
The one positive to come away from all these injuries is it gave the Buccaneers a chance to observe some of their young talent. Second-year cornerback Johnthan Banks has emerged in Verner and Jenkins’ absences, and should enter the season as one of the starters at cornerback. Sims’ injury opens the door for Jeff Demps and fullback Jorvorskie Lane to possibly stick on the final roster.
For the Bills, the development of E.J. Manuel will continue to be an important storyline to follow. The Bill have done a nice job of surrounding the former first-round pick with talented playmakers, including rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins, wideout Mike Williams, and yet another running back in Bryce Brown.
One of those weapons the team will look to get more out of is Robert Woods. The second-year wide receiver played a big role in the offense last season, but his struggles this preseason have been well documented. With the additions of Watkins and Williams, Woods has started to fall down the depth chart. He is not in any danger of being cut, but as a player entering his second season, the team expected him to take a leap and become a bigger part of the offense.
These next couple of preseason games will go a long way in determining Woods’ role for this upcoming season. With Watkins a bit banged up at the moment, Woods should get ample opportunity to prove himself against the Buccaneers.
As is the case with every preseason game, the outcome does not really matter. This week’s game will just be another part in the evaluation process for each team, as they both look to have a bounce-back season.